DESPITE the fiscal challenges facing the country, some members of the clergy feel Jamaica will be able to weather 2013 if the nation seeks divine guidance and churches forget denominational barriers and pool their resources to better assist the most vulnerable.
"I would advise the Government not to just look one way, but to look unto God, because there is nothing in terms of what we are going through in this nation that God cannot deal with," said Bishop Joseph Ade-Gold, president of the Independent Churches of Jamaica and founder of Overcomers World Ministries.
"My prayers and my hope are that Jamaica will return to God's righteousness, because the more we compromise the nation, will be the more the nation will be in trouble. The economy cannot by any means be solved by all the strategies that we are putting in place without seeking God," he said.
The pastor said the church has somehow lost its effectiveness, partly because it has become consumed with things of the world. He believes a greater focus should be placed on showing more love and bringing hope to the downtrodden in the new year.
"We must love not only church people, but everybody," the bishop said.
One way that churches can help Christians and non-Christians, said general secretary of the Jamaica Council of Churches Reverend Gary Harriot, would be to work in sync with each other.
"I would love to see the church working more closely together. I think we can accomplish much more and we can be more effective if we worked less in our own little corners and find ways of partnerships, within communities," he said.
"A lot of churches have idle lands, underutilised lands, and I would love to see how the churches could come together in partnership to see how we could use the resources that are latent to create more opportunities for our people," noted Rev Harriot.
He believes that, as a nation, we need to focus on providing more jobs for especially the young people who are unemployed and are in need of a sense of direction. We should also work towards creating positive values and attitudes and lifting the standard of living for the poor.
"I know that it will not happen within a year, but I hope that we will really and truly begin to take advantage of our abilities and our resources and to reposition our country, so that we can really maximise our potential," he said, adding, "I just think we are too dependent on others and we need to find a way of creating an empowering environment for our people, so that people can use their gifts and skills and the natural resources that we have to create a more just economic space."
Chairman of the Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches (JUGC), Rev Rennard White, was cautiously hopeful that Jamaica would get a handle on social issues such as crime and violence, poverty and corruption in 2013.
"I am really hoping that the country will improve [the] standard of living for its people; that we would bring like crime and violence under control; that as a nation we will be a country in which families will be strengthened and our children, in particular, would get the sort of attention that they need to become properly socialised and well-adjusted citizens," he said.
"With the way things are now with the economy, not only locally, but globally, we might not be able to make any big stride, but to be heading in the right direction, to see initiatives that will create employment and strengthen our education and health and so on," he said.
As it relates to the churches, he, too, wanted to see more pooling of resources. He was confident that the JUGC, which represents 99 per cent of the Christian churches in Jamaica, could be the catalyst for this effort.
"We hope to urge and inspire the various church groups to use their resources in ways that many of them are already doing, but even more to contribute to nation building," he said.
Meanwhile, general secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union, Rev Karl Johnson, said he wasn't really hoping for much for the new year. He believes that once Jamaicans develop a greater sense of "God consciousness" all the other social and financial issues would be sorted out, because then people would respect and love each other more.
"If we understand who we are, then we would be more prone to affirm each other and affirm life. There would be certain things that would not be named and numbered among us all. If and when they happen, it would be a rare exception and would be treated with the kind of abhorrence that they deserve," he said.