Seventh-day Adventists took to the streets to call for an end to violence and abuse across The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands during coordinated marches and rallies on August 27, 2022, as part of the church’s enditnow initiative.
Launched in 2009, enditnow is a global initiative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to advocate for the end of violence around the world. It aims to mobilize Seventh-day Adventists around the world and invite other communities to join in to resolve this worldwide issue.
Scores of church members wore their themed shirts to march throughout city streets, communities, and government plazas to unite in promoting enditnow and encourage onlookers to speak up when they see any form of violence.
This was the first time that the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ACU) of the Adventist Church has organized coordinated efforts across each of the islands in the region, with government officials, other churches, and civic organizations represented as well, Arleen Sands, ACU women’s ministries director, said.
“There is strength in numbers, and we need to speak with one voice and say that abuse of power is wrong,” Sands said, “and we must identify it and report it and educate people on how to deal with the abused as well as the abuser.” It was also an opportunity for the public to know that the Seventh-day Adventist Church cares, she added.
Government and civic leaders congratulated the Seventh-day Adventist Church for being the first church to march through the streets to call for a stop to abuse and violence. Leaders expressed their desire to work with the church to eradicate all forms of abuse and violence.
Impact in The Bahamas
In the South Bahamas Conference (SBC), church members marched through the streets of New Providence with placards and banners to voice their support for enditnow. Marchers distributed pamphlets and brochures along the route on “Breaking the Silence” and how to speak up and get help.
Other church denominations also joined the Adventist enditnow march activities. Marchers descended on Rawson Square, the seat of government in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, for a mega-rally.
Speaking on behalf of the government of The Bahamas, Lashelle Adderley, president of the senate and a Seventh-day Adventist, reminded the crowd that the nation has been reeling from violent deaths over the past few months. “We are one out here to unite under one banner, one goal, and one voice to say ‘enditnow,’ ” Adderley said, commending the Seventh-day Adventist Church “for raising awareness of enditnow and for taking the lead in not being silent and advocating for the end of the stain of violence that destroys the paradise we call home.”
“The solution is not more abuse and violence,” SBC president Kenny Deveaux said. “The solution is Jesus Christ.” He encouraged all to make Jesus Christ the center of their lives and that the solution to violence and hatred is love.
Members paraded through the streets of Marsh Harbour, Abaco, as well as in the Eight Mile Rock community in Grand Bahama.
Rallies in the Cayman Islands
In the Cayman Islands three marches and rallies took place, one on Cayman Brac and two on Grand Cayman, where rallies were held at the Bodden Town Civic Center and at the George Town Annex. Noting the 2020 domestic violence numbers reaching 2,228 cases, church members and community residents turned out in large numbers with t-shirts, flyers, and placards to show their support for the initiative.
Speaking on behalf of the premier of the Cayman Islands at the George Town rally, The Honorable Sabrina Turner, minister of Health and Wellness, alluded to the vital role the church played in helping her stay strong through an abusive situation she went through, and challenged the church to continue to advocate an end to violence. “You have got to ‘end it now,’ ” Turner said. “You have got to give your voice a meaning because it is the foundation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”
Rally organizers had booths set up to share resources on abuse with those in attendance and passersby. In addition, the church on the Cayman Islands made a donation to the local crisis center to assist in the fight to end abuse.
Impact in the Turks and Caicos Islands
In the Turks and Caicos Islands, church members paraded along the major highway in Providenciales with music, placards, and banners. Marchers met for the rally in downtown Providenciales, where government, civic, and community leaders spoke.
Sabrina Green, director of the Turks and Caicos Islands Human Rights Commission, commended the church for doing a remarkable job of bringing awareness to the pressing issues in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“Abuse of power exists in every facet of life, and we must be mindful of how we treat people. The treatment of vulnerable people is very important, and they should not be treated as subhumans, as that is abuse of power,” Green said.
Advocacy to Continue
The marches and rallies this month are not the end of the advocacy of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Atlantic Caribbean region, Sands said. “There are plans to continue being visible in our communities by creating hotlines to assist abused persons, organizing counseling sessions, and ultimately erecting a safe house for persons who need to remove themselves from abusive homes,” Sands said.
More than 28,000 Seventh-day Adventists are worshiping in 90 churches and congregations in the ACU, which oversees the Cayman Islands Conference, the North Bahamas Conference, the South Bahamas Conference, and the Turks and Caicos Islands Conference. The union operates four primary and secondary schools, and with the Jamaica Union operates Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Jamaica.