By BRENT STUBBS
LOOKING at the devastation left by Hurricane Dorian, Rev Dr Lloyd Smith said the Bahamas National Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention will do a lot more to help out the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama.
As promised on Monday, newly elected BNBMEC president Rev Smith led a delegation of pastors from the convention to the two islands to inspect the destruction to the churches that fall under their purview.
However, he said he was startled by the scale of the damage that will change the lives of the people forever and immediate attention is needed.
He appointed former president, Rev Dr Anthony Carroll to head a counselling group that will visit the islands to comfort those in need and he announced the Baptist World Alliance and the Baptist Global Response team will return to carry out their evaluation and assessment of the scope of work that will be required.
“I want to thank all of these pastors who came to meet with us and all who came with us to offer our assistance wherever we can,” said Rev Smith, during a press conference in Grand Bahama at the end of the one-day trip.
“A lot of people consider the Baptist Convention Nassau centric, but the convention is not Nassau centric. It’s for everybody. Since I came to office, one of my missions was to go into the Family Islands and establish ourselves there.”
Rev Smith said the convention was trying to get into the affected islands from Friday, but they were informed by the government that the earliest they could be accommodated was Monday.
“I wanted to really look around Grand Bahama after I saw the total devastation in Abaco,” Rev Smith said. “I understand that east Grand Bahama was more devastated than central Grand Bahama, which only suffered from water.
“So I am going to ask these ministries here, who came to do an assessment, to form a committee that can look at all of our churches, not only churches but our people because if the people don’t have any place to live, then they can’t come to church in your settlement.”
Rev. Smith pledged the convention’s full support in doing whatever is feasible to assist the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama in helping them get back on their feet.
Accompanying Rev Smith from the convention were Rev Dr Philip McPhee; Rev Dr Anthony Carroll, a past president; Bishop Carrington Pinder; Bishop Victor Cooper; Rev Dr Alonzo Hinsey; Bishop B Wenth Davis; Rev Dr Roscoe Rolle; Rev Dr Glendon Rolle and Rev Michael Symonette, the BNBMEC’s treasurer.
They were joined by David and Jo Brown, who represented the Baptist Global Response; Dr Everton Jackson, the Caribbean representative for the Baptist World Alliance and Rev Dr Holmer Altidor.
David Brown, accompanied by his wife, said their roles as missionaries of the Baptist Global Response, is to ensure that funding is made available for disaster relief and community development in Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
“What we have come here to do is to organise and partner with the Baptist Convention to find ways that we can support in different ways, financial resources and volunteers, to help you rebuild that which was terribly destroyed,” Mr Brown said.
He said two more members will join them when they return to Abaco and Grand Bahama on Thursday to ascertain long-term disaster assessments that they conduct.
“We have already initiated plans to help the people of the Bahamas,” he said. “We already have supplies ready to come in and we have the financial support that will be coming to help out in other areas. That’s just the beginning.”
Dr Jackson, the executive secretary/treasurer of the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship and regional secretary for the Baptist World Alliance with responsibility for the Caribbean, said the global and regional bodies extend their sympathy to the people in the Bahamas who would have lost loved ones during the passage of Hurricane Dorian.
“We are fully aware that because of the nature of the disaster that the bereavement is not confined to just singular families. I suspect that because of the disaster, the entire nation of the Bahamas is mourning and by extension, the Caribbean region, of which you are a part of.”
Dr Jackson said the Baptist World Alliance has already pledged full support in providing the necessary resources to assist the Bahamas in its hurricane disaster relief.