Photos and interviews by Abigail Semple and Frances Abraham

This week we asked the man and woman in the street their views on the demolition of the St. Barnabas Church and what they think about plans of the new owner to have a modern shopping complex erected in its place.

Albert Lewis- Pensioner

‘I think that the Anglicans should have done something about the situation of the church. Religion is failing here and hell is at the church’s door. This is a shame on religion on a whole and more so, on the Anglicans. It is surprising that they should dismantle this church because the congregation has over the years decreased. I really think that this is a failure to religion.’

Reiyann Fyleen- Self Employed

`I just think that they don’t want a church that isn’t making money. People only want things that make money. That building is old and tired. They need something new and modern and people are saying that it is a positive move because the church is so old. I don’t think it is really taking away from our history because right now is all about business. That church was just sitting there and the compound has a lot of space which people can use to do other things. Plus, people don’t even go to the church like first time when everybody used to dress up and go.’

Sherwin Alleyne- Private Sector

‘I think it’s a positive move to have this church demolished. This building there for a very long time and people don’t really go there. If they get ten people in there then they have a lot. People are saddened because it’s a church that is being sold to a businessman but I think it will brighten up the area more. I used to go to that church and it used to be good, they used to have a nice service but not anymore, not right now in 2011. There is no progress there. The persons who could have afforded to preserve it didn’t stand up for the church. Maybe they didn’t have enough members to upkeep it.’

Tina Chunilall- Private Sector

‘I don’t think they should have broken down the church, it’s a church! They should have sold it to someone who could have afforded to upkeep it. Look at the structure, there is no other building in Guyana that has that sort of structure. The Government does a lot of nonsense, they could have given the church some money for it to be preserved. I’m very upset about the whole thing. What are our children going to learn about our history? Will they teach them about a mall?’

Abigail Osbourne- Private Sector Employee

`They shouldn’t have broken down the building. It’s older than a lot of us. The first thing, they had a hard time to break it down. People shouldn’t have bought it. They should have gotten somebody else to sponsor it rather than destroy it because the money they spending to break it down and to build something else, is best they had restored it.’

Jorge Bowenforbes- Self Employed Artist

`I don’t know much about the building but from what I’ve seen and from what I’ve been told, the church was left abandoned and was becoming an eyesore and it stunk. But from a different perspective, with it being a historical landmark, they should have kept it there. Someone should have repaired it. Replacing it with a mall seems a bit sacrilegious but the people concerned probably couldn’t afford it. Also, because it’s the year for people of African descent, they should have done something. It’s ironic.’

 Shauntel Haywood- Private Sector

‘It was a negative choice. When we go to other people’s country we see these old buildings and could learn a bit about their culture and history. What about when people come to Guyana? What will they see? This building could have been a tourist site because it’s been there a really long time. Someone in authority should have stepped in and help to preserve it. They shouldn’t have demolished it.’

Saskia Dongo- Private Sector Employee- Nail Technician

`I don’t think its right. That’s history going right there. They should have kept it and preserve it. What is gonna happen to kids who come along. They ain’t gonna ever know about that church. Just like Jonestown. When tourists come to Guyana, there is nothing for them to see about Jonestown.’

Shawn Wilkins- Private Sector Employee

`I think they should have kept the church there; it’s more or less history. But on the other hand, the mall is a good idea because I’ve heard that they were putting a hotel. If they can upkeep it, then I think a mall will mark the spot in history. It’s sad to know that kids wont know anything much about their history because they just demolishing everything now. I don’t think people really care a lot for history in this country. I think if they had gone to the Government, they would have helped with the upkeep.’

Mathew Harman- Private Sector Employee

`They should not have broken it down. The reason being because it is a landmark. It speaks of our history, our past. Some church committee or something should have come together and help in upkeeping it. It’s totally wrong to have a mall there to replace it. They can’t mix up those things because in the mall, they might end up putting a bar or something and that is supposed to be a sacred place.’

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