Having served as president for the past two terms of the Grand Bahama Christian Council (GBCC), Zion Baptist Church senior pastor, Rev. Peter Pinder spoke exclusively with this daily on Thursday (January 11) regarding the upcoming GBCC Elections, slated for January 16.
Sharing his hopes, aspirations and concerns with the present constitution as it relates to those seeking GBCC positions on the council, Pinder revealed that while still eligible to seek a third term as the local council’s president, he is opting not to do so in order to focus more on his church.
“I am not seeking re-election and that is by choice. I could seek another term, according to the constitution, but I feel that I have served my time and I want to concentrate more on my local church.
“Over the years I have travelled quite a bit. In fact, I served for 15 years on the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship, as an Executive Secretary, travelling all around the world. I thought after that that I was going to settle down, but now I am really going to try and do so focusing on my local church,” Pinder pledge.
“I am happy that we have this opportunity to have new leadership in the Grand Bahama Christian Council. It also puts me in the position to make some recommendations about going forward. A part of my report will include recommendations for moving forward,” he disclosed.
Pinder said, one of the concerns that he has regarding the election of officers within the council, “is that the constitution guides us in a particular direction and I am not so certain if that is the best way to go, because we are dealing with a spiritual organization. By following the constitution, it becomes very mechanical and to me that is unfortunate.”
Giving an example Pinder said, “When they are preparing to choose a Pope, they supposedly go and pray and wait on God seeking direction. Because this is a religious organization, my thoughts are that it would be better if we approached it from a religious standpoint, where we as men of God we come together, pray and talk about how we feel God is leading us and who we feel that God is leading us to.
“The way that it is being done right now is, whoever has an interest would apply. Based on the qualifications outlined in the constitution, then they would be considered.
“For example, in this particular instance, we have a number of persons interested in office, but they do not qualify because they do not meet the attendance requirements of the constitution,” said Pinder.
“The constitution requires that persons seeking office must have attended at least six meetings, (which is not a lot), during the past two years. We have some people who have not been attending meetings, but have expressed interest in running for office. Their lack of attendance disqualifies them based on the constitution.
“There is a disappointment in that there are not many persons offering themselves for leadership in the council, which is going to mean that there will have to be appointments.”
The current GBCC president revealed that appointments can either be good or bad. He explained, “When we are appointing, we know who we are appointing before they are appointed; whereas with elections where several persons offer themselves, it is whoever wins the election. From that standpoint I do not necessarily see it as negative; it is a little negative in the sense that there should be more interest, but it also can be positive from the standpoint that it allows us to be prayerful and very selective in who is elected.
“We have two persons who are offering themselves for the presidency – Bishop Arnold Pinder, who previously served as president and the second person is pastor Robert Lockhart, who served under me as my first Vice President, for both terms that I served.
“Those are the two people that are offering themselves; I am staying neutral publicly, but I have my preference,” expressed Pinder.
Pinder informed that the term of Executive Board Members of the GBCC lasts for two years.
“I served for two, two year terms but the constitution provides for three two year terms,” he explained.
At the onset of his first term, Pinder shared that it was his hope to see the GBCC membership increase.
Questioned if he was successful in attaining that goal, he responded “No.
“Unfortunately, we are people who like elections. We have great turnouts for the election and then after that, nothing.”
However, Pinder is still hopeful that things will change with respect to a membership increase for the local Christian Council.
“In fact, what I would classify as a miracle that took place on New Year’s Eve will, hopefully, change what happens going forward.”
The miracle which Pinder referred to was ‘The MOVE Watch Night Gathering,’ where a number of churches gathered on Independence Park, representing a number of Christian denominations on the island, to bring in the New Year.
“To be able to get over 50 churches to give up their New Year’s Eve service, which is usually one of the biggest services in terms of attendance, for many of our churches. To get over 50 churches to give up that service to come together and unite, to me that is miracle.
“Therefore, I am very hopeful coming out of that, that we will see greater cooperation and greater support, and that the Christian Council as a result of that would do a lot better than we have done in the past.
“I am hoping that my successor is more successful than I have been in generating participation and support,” said Pinder.
Explaining the role of the GBCC, Pinder said “The GBCC is a body that unites churches and provides the opportunity for pastors and churches to, collectively, address concerns in the community and in the country, and to also coordinate on behalf of the government and other organizations, special services.
“For example, the Christian Council coordinates the religious part of the Independence service, along with the government. On occasion, we have been asked to coordinate other services, for example the Annual Police Service, is coordinated by the GBCC.”
He reiterated that it is a body that unites the Christian churches on the island; it is not as detailed as the World Council of Churches, as the World Council of Churches does not necessarily bring churches together in a particular location.
“But it is an international worldwide organization that deals with differences in doctrine between denominations. They also try to foster an understanding between denominations and churches on a world scale; whereas with the local council, we do not deal as much with the doctrine.
“In differences in doctrine, we try to cooperate in the best way that we can in terms of uniting churches for joint undertakings.”
Pinder concluded that he remains hopeful and optimistic on the smooth transition and continued collaborative efforts of members within the GBCC, and will continue to assist and relay recommendations to the council whenever needed.
The election of officers for the new Executive Board of the GBCC will take place on January 16 at Freeport Bible Church beginning at 7:30 p.m.