There are now two Evangelical associations in Belize. The new group, the National Evangelical Association of Belize (NEAB) left behind the Belize Association of Evangelical Churches (BAEC), accusing it of being unwilling to finalize a constitution that would make the BAEC more representative of churches countrywide. Additionally, NEAB says the first group, after kicking them ou,t arbitrarily took over the process to appoint a new church senator following a change in government. Caught in the middle is Reverend Ashley Rocke, Baptist pastor and appointed church senator, who was nominated by the rump portion of the BAEC and approved by the Belize Council of Churches, but serves all the churches who at the inaugural session of the Senate on November 13 was sworn is as the church senator. He actually comes from the old BAEC and when we caught up with him today he said he hopes to be able to bridge the divide between the two groups:
Rev. Ashely Rocke, Senator for Churches: Truthfully I would hope that my responsibility as the senator would be to help to bridge the divide that exists between the 2 groups. I’m part of the first group. It’s unfortunate that we have the split and the divide. I believe that there are some legitimate concerns and in my capacity as senator it would be my greatest desire to work and to make sure that we unite ourselves as representatives as Christ, most and foremost as representatives as Christ. The social issues tend to blind us about our objective and while we don’t want to disregard the social issues, we want to make sure they don’t take precedence over what we are about. And that is about the cross of Jesus Christ. Like I said when I spoke to Jules, I’m a person of peace. I have no intention of getting in any quarrel or fight with anybody. My job, I think they would make it easier if they would come together and help me to get the job done in a very respectful manner.
Rev. Ashely Rocke, Senator for Churches: I think on both our paths there are some legitimate concerns and I believe that once they’re ironed out, I won’ go into what they are because I think that there are issues that we need to work out among ourselves that we don’t need the public to have a bad view of us as leaders and how we see each other and how we see the issues around us. We need to be able to resolve those issues ourselves so that the public will know, see, what we need to understand is that church needs leadership, it doesn’t need leaders, and leadership comes when people are able to sit down and talk and dialogue and fix situations that may be bad.
Reverend Rocke says he already has meetings lined up with the Council of Churches and his own Belize Association of Evangelical Churches but says he does hope to meet with the new group to decide what his role should be. All senators will attend an instructional meeting with the senate committee on Saturday ahead of their first senate working meeting on December 9th.