...‘$50,000 Govt grant not enough’
Spiritual Baptist Archbishop Stephen Julien told the Express the $50,000 allocated to them by Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration Rodger Samuel was insufficient to properly stage its 2014 religious celebrations.
He also said there was a “general level of disrespect” meted out to the Baptist hierarchy on the home front.
Julien made these comments while attending and participating in the National Congress of Incorporated Baptist Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago Spiritual/Shouter Baptist Liberation Day celebrations, at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, yesterday.
Julien said: “Our issue is we are not being treated as we used to in some years gone by. We got $50,000. from the Ministry. It is a small sum to stage a huge celebration. Before, we got about $200,000 in previous years. We don’t have enough funds to pay the buses to get people here, we don’t have a large turnout The government is not helping the Spiritual Baptist as they should.”
Julien had not spoken about money woes when he addressed the congregation earlier in the proceedings.
He said: “I did not mention it because I am embarrassed.”
Asked if he had spoken to Samuel, he said:”Not yet. But I intend to raise it.”
In a telephone interview later yesterday, Samuel, who was attending celebrations at Mt Zion SB Church, Arima, said: “I won’t respond to that. We had many more requests for more funding. We have had to facilitate more communities this year. Every religious festival has had tremendous requests and we try to facilitate everyone.”
Samuel added:”Various groups are applying. It is not as if we have an endless budget. Even community groups are celebrating Liberation Day. Just now is Emancipation and Easter. People have been applying for Easter. We just came out of Phagwa.”
Samuel also commended the massive numbers of young people and children for their keen participation in the Shouter Baptist Liberation Day events.
On the issue of disrespect, Julien said: “There is too much disrespect meted out to the Baptist clergy. When I go abroad, they address me properly. They treat me with respect. But here it is a different story.”
A Baptist elder who wished to remain anonymous, said:”There is too much disunity. There are celebrations here and at different places. There needs to be more unity.” —Michelle Loubon