Thank you very much and please be seated church.
And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: (Daniel 2:21 KJV).
I submit to the saints assembled here tonight and convention delegates that the strength given to leaders, be they secular or religious leaders, is indeed divine in nature, spiritual at its source and is found in the wisdom, knowledge, understanding and yes, the peace that comes only from the Almighty.
So as I come in peace with a divine purpose, I recognize the Rev. Dr. Lloyd Smith, General Superintendent;
Rev. Delton Fernander, President of the Bahamas Christian Council;
Rev. Daniel Nottage, host pastor;
Other ministers of the gospel and I am advised that there could be upwards of fifty-three reverend gentlemen and ladies joining us tonight in this auspicious convention on the eve of our 50th Independence Anniversary.
On behalf of the government and people of The Bahamas, I bring greetings and offer congratulations to the officers and members and especially the Reverend Dr. Lloyd Smith, President of the Bahamas Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention, on the occasion of your 88th Annual National Convention.
I note that accountability and transparency remain the hallmarks of effective and credible leadership – that is, leadership that engenders trust and leadership people can believe in.
Since conventions represent that public theater where the mantle of leadership is severely tested, it stands to reason that a convention is a referendum on leadership.
Both religious and secular organizations host national conventions periodically and commercial entities or businesses host what’s generally called Annual General Meetings of stakeholders to submit the leadership to the rigors of public scrutiny and weigh leadership in the balance against the standards of accountability, transparency and integrity.
Integrity basically means that the leader did what he said he would do and can produce an unassailable and empirical audit trail to substantiate his stewardship on behalf of the people.
I therefore applaud your chosen theme for your 88th Annual National Convention – “GIVING STRENGTH TO YOUR LEADER” – taken from Exodus 17: 8-13.
In the public and professional lives of both religious and secular leaders, there will be any number of adversaries or Amaleks of the world with whom to do battle in any number of theaters such as Rephidim on any number of issues that affect the lives of the people of God.
Our success as leaders is predicated on our transparency, accountability and integrity in public life.
Dr. Smith cannot expect the support of the delegates and the 53 ministers here if he was not faithful to the standards and expectations of his high office.
That same rule applies to me. I cannot reasonably expect my National General Council, my Cabinet committee and my Parliamentary Caucus to support me if I prove to be unfaithful to the ideals of the high offices of Prime Minister and party leader.
Dr. Smith, when our hands become heavy and we grow weary, who will place the proverbial stone under us and lift our hands when the fiery darts are aimed at us?
We have only our body of work and the guiding principles that produce such works to sustain us and see us through to success. We have only our integrity and the transparent processes through which we account for our official conduct and stewardship.
Moses for his part enjoyed the support of Joshua, Aaron and Hur and the confidence of the many foot soldiers who battled for the soul, future and birthright of Israel.
These tried, tested and honoured principles of leadership are as relevant today as they were in the days of Moses and the exodus and 88 years ago when this august religious body of faith began its epic spiritual journey within and throughout God’s vineyard, winning souls for the kingdom of God.
Just as Moses, Joshua, Hur and Aaron drew strength, confidence and inspiration from God through the children of Israel during their battles with Amalek, through their tough and testy negotiations with Pharaoh and eventual exodus from Egypt, Dr. Lloyd Smith stands confidently and boldly on the shoulders of past leaders, current leaders and delegates of this convention.
He and his team continue to draw strength, inspiration and confidence from God through the rich legacies of these formidable leaders as Dr. Smith continues to cause for this Convention to grow from strength to strength.
As none of the good work of this convention would have been possible without the commitment, conviction and vision of past legendary leaders, I thank and pay tribute to the work of past presidents of the BBMEC, including Dr. Michael Symonette, Dr. Charles W. Saunders, Dr. R.E. Cooper, Dr. A.S. Colebrook, Dr. Charles Smith, Dr. Anthony Carroll and Dr. William Thompson.
Over the past 88 years, many lives have been touched and changed in profound ways because of your unwavering commitment to the Great Commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel.
This commission included community outreach, evangelism, missions, Christian leadership and Christian education for over almost one century. I applaud the tenacity of this Missionary and Educational Convention because you labored in obedience, in faith, and in love in the confidence and knowledge that the race is not for the swiftest, but to those who endure unto the end.
Under the strong, visionary and divine leadership of Reverend Dr. Lloyd Smith, the Bahamas Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention continues to be a moral beacon on a hill and a moral compass not only for the people of The Bahamas, but for the wider Caribbean region and indeed the world.
Reverend Lloyd Smith’s continued public commentaries and advice to our citizens and leaders on any number of issues of national import are not only welcomed but encouraged as necessary to building up the common life.
Your work, presence and continued cultivation of the presence and spirit of God is vitally important to our country’s overall success because we are beset by evil on every side – especially the disrespect for personal property and the wanton disregard for both human dignity and the sanctity of human life.
In the face of these national challenges, the work of the convention continues and the prayers of the prayer warriors are unceasing. I therefore applaud and commend Reverend Smith’s principled leadership and dogged tenacity. He is an excellent example of servant leadership and a role model par excellence for our young men to follow.
Fellow delegates, continue to lift up the hand of Dr. Smith just as Aaron and Hur lifted up the hands of Moses as Dr. Smith obediently toils in the vineyard of God.
GIVE STRENGTH TO YOUR LEADER FELLOW DELEGATES AND PRAYER WARRIORS.
I also ask for your prayers as my government and I negotiate any number of national issue on behalf of the Bahamian people.
There is no substitute for prayer, fasting and supplication as it is written: the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous avails much.
During this convention, I pray that your deliberations and exchange of ideas as you chart the way forward for the next 88 years will be guided by divine wisdom and received in a spirit of brotherly love and mutual respect.
On behalf of my wife Ann Marie, Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper and Mrs. Cooper, the government and people of The Bahamas, I congratulate the Bahamas Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention on the occasion of your 88th Annual National Convention.
May Almighty God bless your deliberations, increase and prosper your good works as He continues to bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
Thank you and good evening.