Wednesday, 25 January 2017

ON THE RECORD: NLPB Chairman, Dr. Stevenson Samuels, on reconciliation, intervention and that infamous ‘Moravian’ case

FINE COMPANY: Dr. Samuels speaking with VMBS' Georgia Beckford at Thursday's prayer breakfast.

For more than three decades, the National Leadership Breakfast Committee has stuck to its core objective of bringing together Jamaica’s leaders of church, state and civic life, on the third Thursday in January, to address the church’s concerns for national peace, justice, reconciliation and unity. In his capacity as Chairman of that committee, since 2013, Rev. Dr. Stevenson Samuels (New Testament Church of God) firmly believes that an unflinching commitment to the quest for national transformation is the way forward. At the recent well-attended event at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, he spoke with TALLAWAH. 

TALLAWAH: Today marks the 37th staging of the annual prayer breakfast. How do you feel about such a milestone observance? 
Dr. Stevenson Samuels (SS): I am very delighted to see how this 37th breakfast has gone. The messages were very relevant and well-delivered. 

TALLAWAH: The mission statement of the NLPB revolves around fostering greater unity in the nation, particularly among the leaders at all levels. How successful has this mission been to date? 
SS: One of the fundamental objectives of the breakfast is reconciliation. That’s what our message is to the nation, and I think, breakfast after breakfast, we have heralded that call. And we have seen in the nation, slowly but surely, that transformation towards reconciliation. Tribalism and political rivalry are of the past. Insulated society and communities, of the past. We’re moving now towards integration and reconciliation. Absolutely no murders in August Town for one entire year [2016]. That was the first time in over 20 years. We are moving towards reconciliation. The nation is changing. 

TALLAWAH: As Chairman, what is your role? 
SS: I am supposed to provide leadership to the council, the general committee, to ensure that this breakfast is executed in an efficient and excellent way, and also to champion the cause of reconciliation at the leadership level especially, and by extension, the rest of the nation. 
TALLAWAH: And it’s been almost five years since you’ve been in the post. Are you interested in serving for another half-a-decade or will someone soon succeed you? 
SS: I think we will find other persons, and there are other competent persons who are ready and willing to take over the driver’s seat. 

TALLAWAH: As a church leader, you must have been disappointed by that well-publicized news story involving the Moravian minister. 
SS: Well, I am disappointed in many ways. Sometimes I am a little saddened by the way in which the case has already been tried in the public, and the alleged perpetrator found guilty. I am saddened also that this kind of allegation could have come against a senior minister of the church. I am concerned about the state of our society and our relationship to children. 

TALLAWAH: That’s why this year’s NLPB theme – “God-empowered intervention for transformation” – is so crucial. 
SS: I believe that if there is going to be true transformation, there has to be some intervention in the society. A society cannot experience change unless there is intervention of new initiative. And we’re looking forward to this kind of supernatural new initiative in the nation for it to experience that real transformation that we’re looking for.

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