President David Granger (centre) is flanked by members of the Guyana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

…President encourages churches to use ‘moral authority’ to tackle violence, guide families

By Navendra Seoraj

VIOLENCE is unnatural and was invented by people who aim to achieve certain ends, but President David Granger believes it is time to get to the root of that invention in order to move into a violence-free future.

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“Violence is not a biological necessity, people invented violence to achieve certain ends… it is not natural, so don’t let us feel that violence in Guyana is here to stay… for several years we have been bedevilled by violence, so it is time we study violence separately,” said President Granger during his address to a congregation of Seventh-day Adventists during the celebration of the centennial of the Adventist Family Ministries at the Central Seventh-day Adventist Church on Saturday.

The President spoke extensively about the impact of violence on families, noting that family life is not immune from the public exhibition of violence, because when a child sees the exhibition of violence he or she tends to replicate it.

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Persons are more exposed to violence because of social media, and according to President Granger: “Nowadays you have devices that record violence and within a few minutes it goes viral… violence is then no longer a private matter, it becomes headline news and gets likes on social media.”

He, however, made it clear that there is nothing to “like” about domestic violence, homicide, femicide and other forms of violence.

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David Granger showcases a plaque which commemorated the centennial of the Family Ministries of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Looking on are Director of the Adventist Family Ministries of Guyana, Pastor Richard James (right) and other church members (Delano Williams photo)

The President singled out domestic violence as one of the most vicious crimes in Guyana, noting that domestic violence increased by 14 per cent between 2011 and 2017; females accounted for 80 per cent of the domestic violence cases.

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“We regarded domestic violence as a private matter 30-40 years ago…it was regarded as a family affair…things have since changed; interpersonal violence has become a public security concern,” said President Granger. He added that domestic violence can be found in the schools, the homes, the mining camps, the hinterland and other areas.

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Domestic violence has resulted in discord, division and even death. This form of violence is no longer isolated and that has resulted in it becoming more pervasive.

“As a result of this, we are experiencing the secondary impact of violence… children are growing up in communities where there is violence and they want to practise violence themselves,” said President Granger, adding that the lessons children get during the first 10 years of their lives will affect them for the rest of their lives.

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Problems such as child abuse and incest, which often go undetected, tend to have an impact on a child later in his/her life, said the President. He noting that attention must be placed on reducing conflict and violence in the home and at the level of the family.

MORAL AUTHORITY
President Granger said churches have the moral authority to ensure that there is reduced conflict and violence in the home and in the family. His belief is that a church is essential to building social cohesion and building families.

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The church promotes happiness by fostering family life and it is preordained with the task of ensuring that families are happy. The President said the church’s mission must be to proclaim, perfect and protect those institutions (families).

President Granger’s theory is that happy families will foster happy households, happy households will foster happy communities and happy communities will create a happy state.

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“Families are the cradle of life, a cradle of safety, a cradle of society and a classroom of culture… family is a divine creation,” said the president, adding that the United Nations (UN) had underscored the importance of a family, noting that it is the most important institution in shaping a child’s character.

The family has always had a traditional structure in which the father was identified as the provider and the enforcers of rules, while the mothers shared care, compassion and love. President Granger said a child is nurtured in such an environment, which is balanced between the one who makes the rules and the one who extends compassion and love. Such an environment has become a natural place for the well-being of children.

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Director of the Adventist Family Ministries of Guyana, Pastor Richard James, who spoke before President Granger, highlighted similar points; Pastor James noted that the family ministries’ aim is to build stronger families, promote stronger marriages and build strong churches for God.

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He said apart from the local chapter of the family ministries, the global branch has made vital contributions to strengthening families around the world. Pastor James said the ministry will continue to respond to the call to build healthy and strong families.
According to the website of the global Adventist Family Ministries, the over-arching objective of Family Ministries is to strengthen the family as a centre of discipline.

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The Family Ministries said the family was established by divine creation as the fundamental human institution. It is the primary setting in which values are learned and the capacity for close relationships with God and with other human beings is developed.

Family Ministries is a ministry of grace which acknowledges as normative, the biblical teachings relating to the family; it holds high, God’s ideals for family living. At the same time, it brings an understanding of the brokenness experienced by individuals and families in a fallen world.

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Thus, Family Ministries seeks to enable families to aspire to divine ideals, while at the same time ever extending the good news of God’s saving grace and the promise of growth possible through the in-dwelling Spirit.

Family Ministries focuses on people in relationships. It is a ministry that provides tools for couples, parents and children, single adults, and all members of the wider family circle as they pass through life’s predictable stages and confront unexpected changes in their lives.

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