BELIZE JOURNAL Pt 1: A new Belize church leadership is taking shape, with more district involvement and a new national team. This comes at a time when Belizeans are looking to the church for an alternative to the government’s pro-LGBT gender policy. The government is hard-pressed by foreign creditors to advance the gay agenda. But it is also hard-pressed by the vast majority of Belizeans—as a result of the church’s awareness campaign—to resist that agenda.
At this point the government is too weak to push back either way. Recent scandals involving ruling party representatives threaten the slim majority that the government holds in the legislature. Recognizing the church’s growing influence in the nation, Prime Minister Dean Barrow asked the Belize church leadership for a comprehensive report on the gender policy. The church’s response was long in coming because the gender policy is so complex and far-reaching. But the comprehensive report was finally delivered on Nov. 4 and now sits on the Prime Minister’s desk. Since then he has hesitated to push the gender policy any further. Now Belize church leadership has time to consolidate its diverse, far-flung, and sometimes conflicting forces.
On February 3 the Belize Association of Evangelical Churches met to take the next step toward a unified Belize church leadership. Since only five of seven “districts” (including the capital Belmopan as a separate district) were represented at that meeting, there was no vote on leadership positions. But the BAEC did form a Pro Tem team to govern the BAEC until elections are held in October. The Pro Tem teams consists of President Eugene Crawford and Treasurer Godfrey Usher plus the chairmen of the BAEC district chapters now in formation.
To ensure that each district is represented in future national meetings, leaders are appointing deputies to fill in when they must be absent. For example, Caleb Ortega, Chairman of the close-knit and long-enduring Iglesias Unidas (Churches United) in the Cayo District, sent Felipa Apolonia to the Oct. 21 BAEC meeting which he could not attend. Scott Stirm, Chairman of the Worship Together gatherings of dozens of churches around Belmopan, has designated Richard Smith and Lance Lewis as his alternates. BAEC President Crawford turns to Treasurer Usher to act in his place when he has a scheduling conflict. This kind of delegation, if practiced consistently, will make every meeting count for advancing God’s kingdom in Belize, with no district left out.
Even the two districts missing from the Feb. 3 meeting—Stann Creek and Orange Walk—are making progress in forming district chapters. New Chairman Victor Enriquez of the Stann Creek Ministerial Association is reporting increased participation and willingness to overcome past differences for greater power in agreement with the Holy Spirit. The Orange Walk District has a cohesive group of leaders under Chairman Oscar Barrera who show they can speak together with one voice.
Only a year ago the Corozal District was in need of a similarly unified church leadership. But in a recent visit to Corozal, President Crawford found pastors eager to form a chapter with Thomas Zetina as chairman. In the Toledo District, where 4000 people rallied for last July’s Constitution March, more than 100 pastors have joined to form a BAEC chapter. However in Belize City, the BAEC base of operation, participation has flagged. While more than 500 attended last May’s Belize City Global Day of Prayer, we need more steady commitment from Belize church leadership to the nationwide concerns of God’s church.
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Tags for Belize church leadership: government corruption, Belize rapid response team, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, Belize church leadership, new gender policy, Belize gender policy,
BAEC, Eugene Crawford, Belmopan, Scott Stirm, Corozal, Punta Gorda, Stann Creek District, Orange Walk, Belize City, Global Day of Prayer, Belize Constitution March
Belize church leadership growth long awaited