Trinidad church leader says plural societies are the way forward

By staff writers
October 29, 2007

Pluralistic societies offer the church both opportunity and challenge, the moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Trinidad and Tobago told leaders of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) meeting last week. He called for an all-embracing liberation theology.

Elvis Elahie was addressing the Executive Committee of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) on a day when his church threw a party with singing, dancing and local food in the community of San Fernando on the island of Trinidad.

The multicultural nature of both the county and the church were evident at the dinner and cultural extravaganza put on by the Central and South Presbyteries, with Hindi hymns, steel drums, African, Indian and Chinese dancing, calypso music.

The Executive Committee was greeted at Susamachar Presbyterian Church by drumming and Moco Jumbies, young men performing the "dance of the spirit", draped in colourful costumes and dancing on stilts.

"More than any other place in the world, we in Trinidad and Tobago do not only live side by side as people of different faiths, but there is an actual fusion of religion brought through the growing of interfaith marriages and true religious dialogues," Elahie declared.

He continued: "Our plural society is a blessing which, if embraced, brings the opportunity for solidarity, the position from which many social issues can be addressed. Our plural society opens a door to what is different but differences should complement each other or sometimes be transcended as we aim towards oneness."

He added that a plural society such as the one in Trinidad and Tobago also offers a challenge to the church.

"Our multifaith context challenges us to transcend our exclusivist position and adopt a pluralist view where there is mutual recognition of one another's truths and values in order for truth itself to come into proper focus", he said.

And he added: "A community with a rainbow of religions calls for its own liberation theology."

The church represents just three per cent of the population of 1.2 million in Trinidad. It has 108 congregations, operates five secondary schools and 72 primary schools and is involved in a number of social justice issues.

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