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March 24, 2014

Inaugural CARICOM Inter-Faith Conference (CIFC)

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The CARICOM Inter-Faith Conference (CIFC) was the first ever regional attempt to combine the input of Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) into The CARICOM Change Process.

The event was hosted at the Jolly Beach Resort and Spa on February, 17th, 2014 and consisted of an Opening Ceremony and Conference. It was attended by a number of representatives among which were the Rastafari Nyabinghi Theocracy Order, the Caribbean Muslim Forum, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies, the South Leeward Mission of the Seventh Day Adventists, the Antiguan Christian Council and the Caribbean Conference of Churches. Ministers from the Governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad &Tobago and the Leader of the Opposition of Antigua and Barbuda were in attendance along with other regional and local FBOs.

The Opening Ceremony featured remarks by the Master of Ceremonies- Rev. Cortroy Jarvis, Assistant Secretary General to the CARICOM Secretariat – Dr. Douglas Slater, the Premier of Montserrat – Hon. Reuben T. Meade, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Chairman of CARICOM – the Dr. Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration - Rev. Dr. Hon. Rodger Samuel and the President of the South Leeward Mission of the Seventh Day Adventists – Pastor Desmond James while the Feature Address was presented by Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda – Dr. Hon. W. Baldwin Spencer.

The objectives of the Conference were to reignite the spirit of fellowship among the Community’s religious leaders; to develop a framework for a regional consultative process to facilitate appropriate engagement of FBOs in the decision making process in the Community; to contribute to the consultative process currently being undertaken to elaborate a Strategic Plan for the Caribbean Community; to commence a collective process among FBOs aimed at transforming the social fabric of the Community; and to discuss establishing an organization to tackle hunger and poverty across the Community.

The Conference gave FBOs a chance to openly express their views on the different matters on the Agenda. Many speakers and delegates agreed that the Conference was ‘timely’ and praised Prime Minister Spencer for his call for such a dialogue. Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to CARICOM, Dr. Clarence Henry highlighted the importance of the occasion by stating “it is an agenda we believe will reflect the challenges that are currently confronting the Nations … Faith-Based Organizations, youth and the wider society”.

At the close of the Conference delegates agreed to continue discussions on a Draft Aide Memoire which will be presented to CARICOM Heads of Government in early July, 2014.

This Report related to this Conference will be presented at the upcoming Inter-Sessional Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on the 10 and 11 of March, 2014.

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