BY BEN BILUA
GIZO residents took time out to celebrate the country’s 43rd Independence Day on Wednesday at the John F Kennedy stadium.
The event was organised by a newly established church association which represents all denominations in Gizo with the support of the Western Province Ministry of Peace.
The celebration began with a combined dawn service followed by kids’ games and soccer knock-out for women and girls.
In an interview, Deputy Director of Western Province Peace Office, Bruno Manele said the programme where churches came together and organise events to mark the country’s national day is a first of its kind in Western Province, especially Gizo.
“I see that when the government or provincial leaders put churches and traditional leaders to work, implementation of expected objectives and goals are progressing.
“We pull together church leaders, church members also follow. We understand that we have active religious backgrounds, most of us belong to church groups, so when we all on churches, more people will participate,” he said.
Manele said the successful hosting and organising of the independent celebration by church leaders set a benchmark that should be encouraged across the country.
He said Gizo’s combined religious committee made an outstanding commitment and partnership in driving not only the event but also the effort to improve religious stewardship in communities.
“We have overlooked our churches to be part in social and economic development of our country for the past 43 years. We need to change our approach when we look at this, our churches are here before we got our independent status from our colony, and so change in approach and engaging our churches must begin now. Enough of rhetoric on our churches, put them at work and we will all move forward,” Manele said.
He said Western Province Peace office sees Gizo Religious Association as an entity that can be actively engaged to complement the province’s programmes and activities in addressing social issues.
Manele stressed that his ministry will strengthen its partnership with the newly established Gizo Religious Association to carry out needed programmes and activities in the future.