The Church played a major role in securing and establishing a place for the British Virgin Islands in regional and international affairs during the latter half of the twentieth century. After the British Virgin Islands separated from the Leeward Islands Federation in 1956 and became a colony on its own, it also became an "organism" owned by the people. During those early years of this conceptualization, the Church was influential in helping the Colony set its moral compass, through state and legal processes
and to establish markers of British Virgin Islands identity. The educational foundations of the early politicians during the same period was rooted in the administration and teachings of the Church. It was the experience gained through the Methodist Quarterly meetings and the annual synods that helped prepare several of the then politicians for their ministerial roles. The denominations managed the elementary schools in the Colony during the 1930's and 1940's until the government built the first elementary school in Road Town in 1948 and strengthened an emerging partnership between the state and the church. It was the Methodist Superintendent Minister who led the charge to oppose the Commissioner's attempt to refrain from building a Secondary School and merge secondary education and elementary education in the newly built elrmentary school and he won.
During the mid decades of last century the church was in the vanguard in shaping the values of British Virgin Islands culture. The churches including the Quakers laid a foundation which was rooted in values of justice, equality, inclusion and christian principles.
During my years in Methodist elementary school, we prayed four times each school day-at the beginning of the school day, before recess for lunch, during assembly after lunch and at the end of the school day. Most of us did not understand what was happening to us during those exercises but we later found ourselves grounded in values which empowered us to fight evil and negative influences.
The church began to relinquish its influence on the state when it reduced its role in the education system. The Methodist denomination which had the strongest influence buckled in this area and abandoned its schools in the 1960's. During succeeding years the influence of the church became weaker and today its influence is but a shadow of what it has been historically. The state licensed the church not only for life hereafter but for life today. I believe the church has a moral obligation to the state in its hour of weakness. Instead the church shouts but not bite. The church has a moral imperative to help us to reclaim our homeland. Indulging in preparation for the after life should not negate the responsibilities for the present life. In this age when we are losing our homeland to foreign adventures grounded in lust for money and material things, the state needs the help of the church. The moral compass that once guided and led theTerritory has changed and with the change degradation of values. The church needs a strong moral bite along with its bark.
TODAY the cries go out politically, socially, economically, culturally, and spiritually asking for help to reclaim our homeland. Once again I say to the Church (the Body of Christ) you have a responsibility to step up to the plate with an authoritative voice and help the state fight the evil and negative influences which are gaining ground like canker destroying state and church. The church has the potential to be lighthouses, ĥwatchtowers, and security forts in our journey in reclaiming our homeland. I call upon the church to flex its muscles and shine in actions.
NB I acknowledge the
Christian Council's position against same sex marriage. This came to my attention after I had written this Wheatake but it does not change my position on anything I have written.
- Dr. Charles H. Wheatley