In his Christmas pastoral address to the country, Bishop John G. Innis of The United Methodist Church in Liberia asked for elders to encourage their youth to respect the fifth commandment.
Bishop Innis not only addressed his speech to members of The United Methodist Church, but also to the newly elected President and Vice President, other church leaders and all Liberians. He began by wishing everyone a blessed Christ-centered holiday and explaining that there were three important topics he wished to address.
The topics included being grateful for the growth of the church, appreciation for the peaceful elections, and he spoke most lengthily on teaching the youth respect for their parents and authority as the fifth amendment calls for.
Bishop Innis reminded Liberians that the fifth commandment, “Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee,” (Exodus 20:12) is the only commandment which is followed by a promise. To him, this indicates that the problems in Liberia are the result of not respecting this covenant.
“Brothers and sisters, all of us, particularly the young people must be reminded of the only commandment, with promise and hope which states that we must not forget to obey and respect our parents and those in authority,” he said in his address. “The promise of this commandment is that our lives will be prolonged, productive and pleasant.”
He added that Liberians must “first admit the wrongs that we have committed which have led us to the unfavorable situation we have faced over the years.”
Innis called on the church and state to cultivate the sense of respect in the young people so that they would “become humble, respectful, trustworthy, law-abiding and to exhibit all the positive characters that are required for service to the nation and church,” in his speech.
Liberia had seen violent riots and corruption during its democratic elections. The country had previously been plagued by a 14-year long civil war and the elections were thought to signify the country’s stability, not be a cause of more violence.
In the end, Nobel peace prize laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became president and Joseph Boakai became vice president of Liberia. Sirleaf won the award for her role in the bringing about stability in the country after the ceasefire.
The Bishop concluded quoting the Liberian national anthem saying, “In Union strong, success is sure and we cannot fail!”
The Bishop's entire address is on the church's website http://liberiaunitedmethodistchurch.org/bishop-innis/