Canadian Senator Rev. Don Meredith has challenged church leaders to guide by example and influence young people who are exposed to unrighteous and unholy acts.
“Our youth are in crisis and we need to begin to look at how we can engage, encourage and empower the next generation,” Meredith, a Pentecostal pastor, said in his sermon at St. Matthew’s Anglican Cathedral’s fourth annual Black Heritage celebration last Sunday night. “It’s just not good enough anymore for us to come to church and be ‘churchy’ and bless God.
“We have to be doing more at this time because our young people are depending on us. We have to provide them with the means to make positive choices and good decisions and we have to equip them to overcome and thrive in the face of daily challenges and distractions.”
Meredith, who migrated from Jamaica with his family at age 12 in 1976, said the church played a significant role in helping him to become a useful citizen.
“At age 14, I turned my life over to the Lord and that set me on a journey away from drugs, gangs and other negative behaviours,” he said.
Rising from humble beginnings in the Jane-Finch community, Meredith became a pastor, successful businessman, advocate for young people, dedicated husband and father and Canada’s fourth Black senator.
The theme of this year’s celebration was “Marching to the Promised Land in Hope and Faith”.
Meredith co-founded the Greater Toronto Area Faith Alliance almost 12 years ago. It is an inter-faith group dedicated to finding solutions to youth violence.
“It’s so important that the church take up the baton and march forward to deliver programs to help our youths and ensure they are on the right track,” he said. “Our young people must be known not only for acts of criminality but for the credentials that they possess. That is what I desire as we march forward.”
Meredith, who is at the forefront of a campaign to add a bust of Nova Scotia-born William Hall to the military monument commemorating prominent soldiers in Canada’s military, thanked Rev. Glentis Samuel and the church’s congregation for inviting him to be part of their Black heritage celebration.
“I embrace Black History Month because it’s an opportunity to help bridge the gaps of misunderstanding and provide a more detailed and complete story of Canada,” he said. “Blacks have contributed greatly to this country and those stories need to be told. We cannot allow this history be to be hidden from our young people.”
Antigua-born Samuel, the incumbent at St. Matthew’s which emerged in November 2010 after St. Clements of Rome Cathedral closed, organized the Black History Month celebration.
“We are marching for a purpose and it’s important for us to keep our focus and not be fooled,” he said. “Racism is alive and well and we must not be frustrated by the bigotry. Instead, we should continue to articulate our vision of who we are and what we represent.”
Don Valley West Member of Parliament John Carmichael attended the celebration that featured several performing artists, including pannist Winston “Pappy” Fredericks, dub poet Clifton Joseph, organist Remington Ally, liturgical dancer Tammy Taylor Deane, tenor saxophonist Ben MacDonald, trumpeter Paul Taylor and soprano Denise Williams.