Anglican, Roman Catholic bishops sceptical of preacher’s anti-gang comments – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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Anglican, Roman Catholic bishops sceptical of preacher’s anti-gang comments

A preacher's suggestion that Bermuda's churches should close down for a month and “knock on every door in Bermuda” instead to reach out to gang members has been met with scepticism from the Anglican and Catholic Bishops.

The recommendation was made yesterday by Scott Smith, a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the gang-blighted neighbourhood of Glebe Road, Pembroke.

He has reached out to many families affected by violence, but does not believe the wider church community is doing enough.

“The Christian churches are not doing half as much as they need to be doing,” said Mr Smith, 44, from Sandys. “Our message as a body of believers is to spread love. How can you spread love? The church needs to go out in the highways and byways.”

He believes gang members “just want to be loved and accepted” and the church should seek them out, rather than waiting for them to come.

However, reacting to the suggestion yesterday, Catholic Bishop Robert Kurtz said: “I would not be in favour of closing the church for a month. I can understand the intention but I don't think it's practical.

“I think the people in the churches who are in the neighbourhood are the best people to be in the community and getting involved. Simply symbolically closing the churches, I would not support.”

Asked if the churches are doing enough, he replied: “From my perspective, the churches have been struggling to try to respond to the needs of the neighbourhoods.”

He said valuable work has been done by St Theresa's Cathedral representatives in the surrounding north Hamilton area.

However, he said: “I remember some times in the past where the people of the neighbourhoods felt they didn't need outsiders walking through the neighourhoods to preach about gang violence.

“I think it's going to need a little more study and subtlety in dealing with the issues than closing the doors and everybody walking into the neighbourhoods. What would we do when we got there?”

Anglican Bishop Patrick White said: “I think as a symbolic gesture it's fine. It's obviously something that's not going to last for any long period of time. We might do it on a Sunday. I think he's [Mr Smith's] saying the churches should be out there and more involved in the neighbourhoods.

“That's what's going on in Pembroke with the shootings. Certainly Nicholas Dill [of St John's Church in Pembroke] and Musa Daba [of St Monica's Church] are. What he said struck me as rather surprising as that's what they are doing. I know my men are in there and are doing this.”

Asked if he felt churchgoers as well as the clergy should reach out to those involved in violence, he replied: “That's a more difficult one. I think certain people in the neighbourhood are intimidated by these guys. In some ways they are distancing themselves from them and their behaviour. In some ways it might be about being afraid of them or it may be simply that they disapprove of them because they are misbehaving.”

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Published March 31, 2011 at 10:15 am (Updated March 31, 2011 at 10:14 am)

Anglican, Roman Catholic bishops sceptical of preacher’s anti-gang comments

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