Georgetown, Guyana – (July 12, 2017) Religious leaders play an important role in the advancement of social cohesion in Guyana as they are directly involved with Guyanese at the community level. This sentiment was expressed by Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton today at the opening of the Ministry’s second Diversity Education and Inclusion Training workshop for religious leaders at the National Racquet Centre on Woolford Avenue in Georgetown. The first such session was held with members of the Hindu community in March.

Dr. Norton said, “The role of persons in the religious community in advancing the Social Cohesion agenda cannot be overstated. There is unity in diversity and each of us brings with us differing strengths and perspectives, which can be utilised to achieve common goals.”

The Minister noted that the training session would only result in the intended outcome if participants use what they learn at the community level. “Regardless of our ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, political affiliation, socio-economic status and other forms of diversity, we all want the best for Guyana. Therefore, I want to encourage you to take full advantage of this training opportunity and continue to work towards bringing together persons from different backgrounds in your communities,” he said.

Meanwhile, Programme Coordinator at the Ministry of Social Cohesion, Ms. Sharon Patterson said that the Government’s policy on social cohesion goes beyond mere political philosophy. “It is an approach to development. We are here today to [discuss] the roles that we can play as key persons in the Christian community. The training is not designed as just training; the Ministry sees it as a means towards an end. The trainers will ensure that little projects and activities are planned to take what you have learned forward and to help you to know that learning has taken place. It’s about what you do within these two days and what you do afterwards that really matters,” Ms. Patterson said.

In an invited comment, Ms. Veronica Baxter of Life Spring Ministries in Chateau Margot said that it is essential for the Christian community to come together as one. “We need to do all that we can for the nation as a whole in order for Guyana to move forward. As a part of the leadership in our church, whatever we learned we try as much to implement it into our teachings in the congregation,” Ms. Baxter said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Clemsford Craig of the New Testament Church of God in Kuru Kuru Linden said that unity must be implemented in order to fulfil the purpose of God. “The only way the church can obtain its objective is by coming together to reach out to humanity across cultures. What we are seeing here today is what has already been taught and going into communities will help us to realise that our biases will not solve the ills of our society but rather we have to put them aside and come together,” Mr. Craig said.

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