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Shunned

Gunmen stay away from churches' man march, but organisers not fazed

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

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THE gunmen never took up the invitation. But Reverend Al Miller and Bishop Neville Owens, who organised a march in Kingston Monday night, remain optimistic.

“We feel for a first night, it was very good. As more and more men hear about it, they will become involved. We believe that we have done a lot in terms of the PR (public relations); we have far more men who are registered. We expect that the momentum will pick up. Tonight is indicative of what Wednesday night and Friday night will be like,” Owens told the Jamaica Observer following the march, which began at the National Stadium in Kingston minutes to 10 o'clock and ended at the aqueduct in Mona at midnight.

The organisers, with the knowledge of the commissioner of police, had announced a gun amnesty, but on the first night of the initiative, that is expected to go until August 1, no illegal guns were handed over.

Just under 100 men donned white T-shirts labelled 'MAN Ting', while marching in a military-like cadence through the streets singing songs of praise.

'MAN Ting' (Men Advancing the Nation) is the initiative the church believes will positively impact the country's crime epidemic and social ills. The idea is to reach men the church believes are at risk of becoming involved in criminal lifestyles.

“When men get stirred, awakened, provoked, organised, we can move mountains. When men get together to pray, to worship and to march as we have been doing, there is an awakening of that spirit of manhood, fatherhood and son-ship. It is a transfer of leadership,” Owens said.

The purpose of the march, he explained, is to establish the order and authoritative structure of men over the nation.

“As we know, 79 per cent of our homes are headed by women, not by choice but by mere default through absenteeism. So we are re-establishing the place of the man as priest of his family, father in his household domestically, and in his neighbourhood, community and society to turn the order to support our women and to establish once again the righteousness over the nation against gangs, against violence, against principalities, powers and wicked rulers of the darkness over the nation at this particular time,” the Independent Churches of Jamaica head said.

At the same time, Bishop Owens said that there will be a deliberate attempt at making the church more visible in the country.

“Visibility will increase. We will go into the trenches. We will go beyond our four walls. It will be a continuous intervention. A good part of it will be mentorship — male mentorship. We want to be there for our fathers and sons. It will not be an event, but an ongoing process.

“It is full time we man up. It is full time we take responsibility for our homes, our children and the society. It is time we cut crime. Ninety-eight per cent of the crime committed in this nation is committed by males. We're doing the killing; we're doing the murdering. We're doing all the negative things in the society at this moment,” Owens said.

The next march, planned for tonight, will begin at the aqueduct and end in Barbican Square. On Friday, the group will begin at Barbican Square and walk to Manor Park.

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