Magazine article Anglican Journal

Jamaican Churches Deal with Violence Tourists Never See

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Jamaican Churches Deal with Violence Tourists Never See

Article excerpt

Kingston, Jamaica

THERE WERE 1,045 murders last year across this island nation of 2.6 million--one of the world's highest murder rates per capita.

The grim statistic may mean nothing to the tourists in the secured resort areas of Jamaica's north coast. Most of the killings take place in the impoverished, violence-prone areas of Kingston where violent death is a common occurrence and where tourists never venture.

While domestic violence accounts for many of the killings, most are blamed on gang-related reprisal attacks and bloody feuds between ruthless and well-armed rival drug gangs. And, as Canon Ernle Gordon, of St. Mary the Virgin Anglican church in West Kingston, says, the violence in some Kingston communities has been ongoing for almost 50 years.

Mr. Gordon says the violence resulting from the bloody rivalry between Jamaica's two main political parties has largely abated. However, the former political gangs are now the well-financed drug gangs that virtually control some inner-city areas under the protection of the local "don," as the area leader is euphemistically known.

"Churches working together are at the forefront in assisting to solve this whole violence and crime problem," says Mr. Gordon, chairman of the Jamaican Council of Churches' church and society commission. He notes that the government-appointed political ombud is a clergyman.

"We have what are known as 'ministers fraternal' in the violence-prone areas who assist in violence mediation. We move in there not only for prayer meetings and services but also to meet the people who are frustrated. We speak to them and give them some hope.

"Sometimes we contact government agencies to fix the roads and to move the garbage because in many instances the amenities are rundown or nonexistent."

And sometimes it's a matter of approaching the local don, as Mr. Gordon learned when he wanted to "step up the pace" in a mission he operates in one of Kingston's poorest neighbourhoods. The don, who was rinsed as an Anglican, agreed to allow all the area children, including five of his many children, to attend Sunday school.

As a result, Mr. Gordon says the area has started to change from a menacing environment to where one can walk without harassment even at night. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.