A ceremony at Kingston, Jamaica, last week at which all Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Churches of the Caribbean were represented marked the inauguration of the Caribbean Conference of Churches.
Dr. Philip A. Potter, a West Indian who heads the World Council of Churches with headquarters in Geneva, preached the inaugural sermon in St. Luke's Anglican Church.
Fourteen major churches in the region are founding members of the conference, but the list remains open so that other Churches may join in coming months. Delegates from the founding Churches made their "affirmation of acceptance" in the presence of the Chairman of the Continuation Committee, Archbishop Samuel Carter, S.J., of Kingston.
After saying the inaugural prayer he performed the act of inauguration. The inaugural statement was read by the General Secretary of the new Caribbean Conference, the Rev. Roy Ncehall, Presbyterian minister of Trinidad.
Speaking on the conference theme — "The Right Hand of God" (Psalm 9/4) — Dr. Potter recalled the history of the Caribbean Church from early post-slavery days to the present. "Where was God's right hand through centuries of hurricanes, floods, droughts, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes which have plagued these lands?" he asked.
Then, turning to the Churches themselves, he asked the pertinent question: "Where was God's right hand when Churches have been in competition with each other, full of fear, mistrust and animosity against each other, when they have done good for people but with so much severity and selfrighteousness, when they have by and large been so careful not to upset the status quo and have played safe, happy only when they had positions of power and prestige among the people?
"We as Churches are now under judgment both by events and by the fact that it has been the secular writers and politicians who have been the prophets of our time.
"Edward Blyden, Marcus Garvey. C. C. L. R. James, George Padmore, Aime Cesaire, Franz Fanon, Stokeley Carmichael, Malcolm X and others out of their Caribbean heritage have been prophets of black theology: they have given far more clear and powerful expression to the true meaning of the right hand of God than Churches as such."
Dr. Potter called on all groups represented to go forward together in the new venture of faith that is the Caribbean Conference of Churches "singing the new song of the Right Hand of God which is revealed in liberation, justice, trust and caring love."
He concluded: "Let us place ourselves in his hand that we may be strengthened and upheld to be His right hand in the Caribbean and in all the world."
The President of the Jamaica Council of Churches, the Rev. R. I. Nelson, presided at the service.
The Anglican Bishop of Jamaica, Dr. Cyril Swaby, pronounced the Benediction.
The founding Churches are: African Methodist Episcopal (I6th Episcopal District); Anglican Church in the Province of the West Indies; Antilles Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Church; Bahamas Baptist Union; Caribbean Synod of the Lutheran Church in America; Disciples of Christ in Jamaica; Jarnqicg Baptist Union; Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas; Moravian Church (Eastern West Indies Province); Presbyterian Church in Trinidad and Grenada; Presbytery of Guyana; Salvation Army in the Caribbean and Central America; United Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman, and the United Protestant Church of Curacao, Support for
South African on trial
Dr. Beyers Naude, Director of the Christian Institute of South Africa, who went on trial in Johannesburg last week, was sent a telegram of support by the Justice and Peace Commission of England and Wales. Mr. Erik Pearse, Secretary of the Commission, said Dr. Naude's refusal to submit to a political, as opposed to a judicial Inquiry was backed by the Catholic bishops and the Anglican Synod. The Archbishop of Canterbury, writing in 'The Times' this week, appealed for donations to support the work of the Institute. Mr. Pearse said: "Dr. Naude refused to testify before the political Schlebusch Commission, who are looking into antigovernment activities, officially trying to root out Communists." The decision not to testify before the Commission was made after the arrest of all black and white student leaders, he added.
The Christian Institute, with whose work a number of Catholic priests have been associated, has courageously tried to promote the cause of racial justice.