Lansdowne, Pennsylvania - The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas has described the role of Liberian churches at home and abroad in ensuring a smooth political transition in the country this year as extremely critical.
An ALJA statement quotes the Association's National President, Moses D. Sandy, as calling on Liberian clergy to get involved in the 2017 elections through the propagation of messages of peace, reconciliation, and voters' education.
"After 12 years of stewardship under the Unity Party (UP) led government, Liberians will this October go to the poll for general and Presidential elections.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf first came to power in 2005 when she clinched the presidency after defeating her opponent, Senator George Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC).
In 2011, she won re-election for a second term. The elections have the potential to either sustain or break the prevailing political quietude in Liberia if, not handle with caution," Sandy observed in the communication.
The release said the slated 2017 general and Presidential elections would be a crucial period in Liberia's quest for continued peace and stability.
According to the ALJA statement, issued on January 17, 2017, Mr. Sandy spoke recently in the United States of America when he delivered the keynote address at the Liberian Ministers Association of the Delaware Valley, (LMADV) Third General Assembly.
The conference was held on December 31, 2016, at the Faith Immanuel Lutheran Church in East Lansdowne, Pennsylvania.
He spoke on the theme, "The Role of Liberia's Diaspora Church in Liberia 2017 Election".
The Third General Assembly brought together several church leaders and members of the Liberian Christian Community with residences in the Tri-state region(Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey), and surrounding states on the east coast.
The LMADV is a group of US based Liberian Churches located in the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey.
The organization is headquartered in Pennsylvania and it is dedicated to fostering peace and unity amongst its members and the Diaspora Liberian Christian Community.
It was founded in 2013. The Senior Pastor of the Faith Immanuel Lutheran Church, Rev. Doctor, Moses Suah Dennis, is the organization’s President.
Mr. Sandy in the statement admonished religious community in the US to use their sermons, pulpits, and sanctuaries as launching pads for the enlightenment of Liberian voters in exercising their political franchise during the elections.
He noted that Liberian churches like others in the world over, have the biblical commands of winning souls for the Lord, preaching the gospel, repentance, and remission.
He said, the critical roles of Liberian churches in the October political race can't be overstated because they do not exist in utopia.
"Liberian churches are part and parcel of the Liberian society so, our church leaders must support the electoral process by collaborating with the government and the International Community for the conduct of free, fair, and credible elections in October 2017," he maintained.
Warning Against Endorsing Candidate
Journalist Sandy warned Liberian clergy against the endorsement of candidates during the electoral period because of immediate material and monetary rewards in an effort to ensure free, fair, transparent, and credible elections in Liberia.
"Stop pledging support to politicians and honoring the dishonest and corrupt in Liberia as fathers and mothers of the year for financial gains and special privileges; doing so would undermine the electoral process and further reinforce negative behaviors," Sandy registered.
He noted that if the views of the Liberian clergy are to be taken seriously during the 2017 electoral period, then, they must lead by example.
At the same time, Sandy in the released is proposing the consolidation of Liberian churches in the United States.
‘Merger’ is the Best
He said the mush rooming of Liberian churches is creating more problems than good for the unity of the Liberian Christian community in the US.
The ALJA national President put the number of Liberian owned churches in the State of Pennsylvania at 50, which he considered a tip of the iceberg.
The communication further noted that the proliferation is doing little or no good for the African community, mainly Liberians because many of these churches are setup by corrupt and incompetent church leaders, who are mainly obsessed on financial and material gains rather than doing the work of God.
"A merger is the best way out because doing so, would minimize the mediocrity, corruption, crises, and the inadequate financial situations that continue to haunt African, particularly Liberian churches in the US," he observed.
In the statement, Sandy further called on the Liberian Ministers Association of the Delaware Valley (LMADV) to take a lead in the unification and merger of the US based Liberian churches.
Mr. Sandy urged: "consolidate your resources, unite, and eschew divisive and corrupt tendencies that undermine the credibility of the church".
Rev. Dr. Deddeh Poe, Pastor of the Philadelphia based Dominion Christian Fellowship Church and Youth Advocate and former Secretary General of the University of Liberia Student Union (ULSU), Amb. Joe Wilson also, delivered papers at the conference.
Dr. Deddeh spoke on the topic, The Church and Liberia's 2017 Elections: Maintaining a Prophetic Voice Beyond Partisan Politics, while Amb. Wilson addressed the gathering on Youth and Election Violence: How Can the Church Ensure a Violent Free Election 2017.
The one day General Assembly also, featured Rev. Anthony Blessed Tarnue, Pastor and head of the International Free Pentecostal Church Ministries, Inc. as one of the panelists. He spoke on the topic, The Church and National Reconciliation: How Can the Church Promote a Liberia National Identity beyond Tribalism.