Senior Minister Vance Amory (left) and Permanent Secretary Ton Dublin-Collins at Tuesday's meeting.

Basseterre, St. Kitts — Pastors and church leaders from Christian denominations met on Aug. 21 with senior government officials to discuss a number of matters, including grant project funding, the implementation of a School Chaplains programme, and the religious activities included as part of St. Kitts and Nevis’ 35 years of Independence.

The meeting was chaired by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs, Ron Dublin-Collins, and was attended by Senior Minister, the Honourable Vance Amory. The officials had very candid conversations with the 35 representatives from faith-based institutions, who assembled at the People’s Evangelistic Centre at Needsmust.

The grant funding for projects are a direct follow up to a one-day workshop in July organized for church representatives to enhance their capacities in project planning.

Senior Minister Amory said the ongoing and frequent interactions with religious leaders are part of the government’s strategy to engage social partners in policy development.

“The thrust has been for us to strengthen the relationship and the partnership between the government through the Ministry [of Ecclesiastical Affairs] and the churches, the pastors, the priests, deacons, whatever your function,” he said. “The purpose of that strengthening is … so that we can show that common purpose to get our people to be the best that they can be.”

Reflecting on the high number of juveniles that engage in anti-social activities, Senior Minister Amory said the challenge is one that must be tackled by all of society.

“We believe it behoves us as representatives of the church and government representatives to redouble our efforts and see that we are not at cross-purposes, but,” Amory said. “We have to make what we do, whatever programmes government has in community affairs, sports, in training for employment, whatever programmes the church has in its own outreach in spreading the gospel to the young people … that we try to get that so focused, so entwined that we can forge better communities among our people and for our people.”

Permanent Secretary Dublin-Collins said he was excited by the collaboration that has taken place to date between both parties, particularly with the success of the grant funding for projects. He noted the number of initiatives on the horizon will seek to deepen existing relations and strengthen newer ones. Similar engagements are held regularly with leaders that represent other faiths including Rastafarians and Muslims.