Another church returns Nation Building Fund appropriations

Two churches have now decided to give back money received from the Cayman Islands government’s Nation Building Fund due to external criticism, Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said, who referred to “hell”, “brimstone” and “the devil” while describing the situation during a Cabinet news 
briefing Thursday. 

After Cayman Brac’s Hillside Chapel returned $50,000 to the government, leaders of Red Bay Church of God Holiness also decided to return checks totalling more than $108,000. The money to Hillside was to help rebuild the church’s education and fellowship building, while the money to the Red Bay church was to help with the public address system for the Red Bay Gospel Band ($8,105) and to repair the church’s roof and upgrade its flood-prone parking lot ($100,000). 


‘No apologies’  

Ms O’Connor-Connolly, who represents the Sister Islands, attends the Red Bay church. She said former Premier McKeeva Bush had appropriately OK’d the nation-building grants to the Brac and Red Bay churches last year, along 
with eight other churches. 

“I make no apologies for assisting churches because Cayman is a Christian community,” 
she said Thursday. 

For the current 2012/13 budget year, the government has dedicated nearly $450,000 to the other eight churches, which include Church of God Frank Sound ($100,000 for church construction), Church of God West Bay ($100,000 for church re-building programme), Seventh Day Adventist Church West Bay ($100,000 for church re-building programme), Church of God Bodden Town ($50,000 for hurricane shelter construction), Fellowship Baptist ($45,000 for church re-building programme and a church bus), Webster Memorial United Church ($18,300 for afterschool programme), First Assembly of God ($15,000 for singing Christmas tree), Countryside Church of God ($9,428.33 for a small bus for the youth group) and St. George’s Anglican Church ($8,750 for church pews). 


Nearly $3.4M in 2012/13  

The premier’s office provided a list of some $3.4 million in nation-building expenditures for the current budget year to the Caymanian Compass following an open records request. 

In addition to the church grants, nearly $2.2 million of government money went to nearly 150 “YNBP scholars” for things such as tuition, stipends, airfare, books and allowances. 

Also, nearly $580,000 in expenditures went to some 22 individuals and causes. That includes $120,000 to Cayman Traditional Arts for the “Bringing Heritage to Life” afterschool programme; $79,000 to Superior Auto’s apprenticeship programme; $75,000 to Cayman National Cultural Foundation for the Mind’s Eye/Miss Lassie’s House restoration; $75,000 to the Hope for Today Foundation’s halfway house; $75,000 to Kystar Athletics for the Cayman Invitational track meet; $30,874.50 related to a West Bay boxing gym; and $20,000 to sponsor Reba Dilbert at New Jersey Fashion Week. 

The latest records provide a more complete picture of Nation Building Fund expenses from December 2009 to March 2013 (Nation Building Fund 2009-11, Nation Building Fund 2011-12, Nation Building Fund 2012-13), totalling some $12.9 million (including the $158,000 said to be returned by the two churches). Of that, nearly $5.2 million has been given to churches (40 per cent overall), $3.7 million to scholars (29 per cent), and $3.6 million for various grants (28 per cent). 

Of the churches, the biggest recipients so far are Wesleyan Holiness Church West Bay ($1.3 million), Church of God Bodden Town ($1.05 million), Church of God West Bay ($550,000), Seventh Day Adventist Church West Bay ($375,000) and Church of God Frank Sound ($225,000). 


‘Fear of the Lord’  

During the news briefing, Ms O’Connor-Connolly said, “We should not allow persons who do not believe in God, whatever your religion is, to be the defining persons in our community.” 

She said, “I just want to repeat for emphasis that when we lose the fear of the Lord, there are no boundaries.” 

She said a Red Bay church board member talked about the $108,000 grants to Bodden Town UDP candidate Chris Saunders, who then told members of the press. She said the board member, whom she wouldn’t name, and Mr. Saunders had since apologised. 

Ms O’Connor-Connolly said the Red Bay church was a “small church” and in these “difficult times” had only obtained pledges from the congregation to cover the $8,000 for the band, with no money being raised so far to fix the leaky roof. She said the church needs the roof fixed but considered it more important to salvage the reputation of the church and premier. 

“It is unfortunate. But what the devil has meant for bad, it has started a revival in our church and if it took this check to do it then it’s worth it,” she said. 

Ms O’Connor-Connolly said any church leaders who had issues with accepting the government funds should have voiced their concerns before the church made its application, rather than waiting until after the funds had been approved to tell a political candidate. 


Ms O’Connor-Connolly


  1. HELL BRIMSTONE, yes I agree will be upon the heads of those who mess with GOD’s place.
    It is a shame that people in the Cayman Islands would stoop so low to critic funds giving to help the church. The churches should have not given back the funds either. I am sure it would be used in a proper way and if there was change left over to assist in needed areas. Can never be that Caymanians have become so heathen to pressure the churches into this.
    HELL BRIMSTONE I agree Ms. O’Connor, and it is just a matter of time to see Gods works.

  2. Why should the government give any money to any church? About 500 years ago, they separated church from state.

    Just like a business. Lets face it, a church is a business. You give them money every week, to stay open. It creates a job for the preacher.

    If the congregation does not show up for a certain period of time. That church will fold. It’s very simple.

    Why should the government support churches that due to low numbers may fold. inflating the need for more churches than obviously are needed.

    Truth be told. Why do you go to church anyways. God knows what really is in your heart. So who are you trying to show your godly intent to? It’s not God. He already knows.

  3. Interesting quotes, We should not allow persons who do not believe in God, whatever your religion is, to be the defining persons in our community, so therefore if you don’t believe in a god, or gods, you are not fit to have an opinion?
    …and then she actually goes on to say I just want to repeat for emphasis…, no need to, it sounded pretty dumb the first time.

  4. Hunter, if God is with these churches, I am sure that they will do just fine without government assistance. Besides it is not their money – it is money that was forceably taken away from tax-payers and given to these churches. Tax-payers, many whom are not christians, didnt have any say in the matter.

  5. Reading some of the nonsense being quoted above makes me eternally grateful that I lost all faith in organised religion in my teens and went on to become a lifelong atheist.

    I do not object to the presence of organised religion in a community but I do object to the blatant abuse of the concept for personal gain and promotion, which is what happens in many local churches. It seems people are often assessed on the basis of which church they attend and who they attend it with, not by any more tangible criteria. Going to one church is regarded as good but going to another is bad.

    One of the other problems with the Cayman Islands is the concept that you can do whatever you like six days a week as long as on the seventh day you get all dressed to go and give thanks to the Lord to cleanse your soul. It sometimes seems a bit like doing the weekly washing and about as meaningful.

  6. Big bird, I agree with everything you said. But when you start saying why people go to church and… God knows what really is in your heart, I feel you don’t understand the powerful nature of sin in the human heart, its karmic repercussions, and the human need for a savior from mortal sins and what it brings to family, society, and personal life. Christians attend church to encourage and strengthen each other, and receive those graces that they wouldnt recieve at home in order to overcome sin. Like it is said – WHERE TWO OR THREE ARE GATHERED IN HIS NAME, HIS PRESENCE IS THERE. Peace

  7. Its the people who dont attend church or who do not have God in their life that have started all this hoopla. Big Berd – if church should not be helped why it is then that everyone thinks the church shuld be responsible for many things tht the governmenet or individuals should take care of. Last week it was about the hungry children and y didnt the church step in?? Y doesnt the church do this or y doesnt it do that…do you know who the church is IT IS US the local families residents and expats who put money time and work in to our churches for programms community work and MANY other things that build and benefit our community. It is US the churched community who do more than the rest of the community even dares to think about…we just dont have to put it all in the papers – we help love support one another and if all of you who think the church is a business and big fat enguld self serving entity – try attending one try joining one – get to know pwople work in the comminuty instead of taking your boat out every sat and sun try spending the day helping an elderly person by cleaning thier yard – or simply spending time with them talking – try taking on a youth to help mould and shape into an artisit athlete or developer – try getting into the church and being church…yes there are hundred of individuals who assist in so many ways to help better this community and lifestyles of people. It is a crying shame that the little church in Brac still has a leaking roof….I am certain the other churches in Grand will pull together and help this little church -for something as important as the roof!!! Y not allow the government to help the church. It was already done – we spent three times that amount on travel – shouldnt those who cannot prove the travel was work related be responsible to payback some of that money??? I am very proud of the churches who gave back the money but appalled by the persecution the church had received by the people on this island. Yes Mr Julliana – this is a christian nation but we are bowing down to everybody else but our fatih. Let’s not allow the persecution from unchurched or other religions change what we are commissioned to do. The government money came from the backs of workers, the church comes from the backs of the people, both entities pour back into the community – non profits are the same. Try church learn what it is about experience the love that you feel when you actually help someone and not just sit back complaining …helping one another loving one another being nice kind understanding of others is called BEATTITUDES and you make a difference in yourself when you reach out….when you sit and complain and point the finger at church when you have no idea what you are talking about is ATTITUDE. Those folllowers of Big Berd and his negative comments obviously have no clue about beattitudes nor why we go to church (certainly not to make a preacher a job) Why to go to church and What is a Beattitude well they are both found in Life’s Instruction Book…Never heard of that publication? Didnt think you had – its been on the number one best seller list for the past 100 years. Google that!

  8. Thank you Bodden.

    But unless you live alone. How many are gathered in your house?

    Two, three?

    See what i am saying? The point is. If you truly believe in God. You do not need any church to absolve your sins. Since who absolves your sins? That’s right, God!

    Not a preacher.

    Then if God absolves your sins. Can you not just ask for forgiveness alone? In the comfort of what ever or where ever you are?

    God is all powerful. Do you honestly think you need a church for Gods blessing. If you think you do. Then you don’t believe in the power of God.

    I believe in God, absolutely. I do not believe in Church. Does that make me less Godly. Absolutely not.

    Just like the internet has done away with most newspapers.
    Just like the cell phone has done away with the wrist watch.

    Everything has it’s time and passing.

    Is there is a need for some churches. Yes.

    Do you need to go to one, to worship God. Absolutely not.

    Next week, take your family, outside. Go under a tree and rest in the shade. Bring your bible and have everyone recite a verse.

    What is more magical than that!? Spending time with God and his creations, with your family, saying his words. With people you truly care about.

    Or going to a building and having God’s words spoon fed to you?

    Answer that. And you will see why I see, there is little need for church in today’s society.

  9. The so called Nation Building fund is a slush fund, plain and simple. And if the current Premier believes it is entirely appropriate for the former Premier, who she participated in removing from office, to dole out millions of dollars of the people’s money at his sole discretion regardless of the recipients, then I am not too bothered by her righteous pronouncements about who is going where in the afterlife.

  10. Sam Putt Putt:
    You are absolutely right, Sir. Slush Fund is the term. Nothing more, nothing less. And that politicians who continually protest their Godliness should have set it up doubles their hypocrisy.
    A real disgrace. And the unmitigated gall of the present Premier in refusing to apologise for the whole scandal is unbelievable.
    Remmember: God hath founded it upon the Seas.
    God may well wish to change his mind sooner rather than later.

  11. big bird, from the days of Moses, God’s people have always congregated. They have always had moments when they came together. In in the times after Christ. The church has always spent time together and this was the command of Christ because there were appointed men of God, such as we call bishops, priests, and deacons of the church. Men were called and sent to minister in the church. We had these appointted officials from the times of Christ for no other reason but to dispense the graces of God which was made available at the cross. The church can’t be compared to a gadget that goes outdated. It has been around for over 2000 years since it was commissioned by Christ. I don’t know about your church, but I do know that although an imperfect church, the Catholic, Orthodox churches can show you a history going back to its founder. No other of these new churches can do that. But my point is, it would be against the unity of Christ if He never commissioned that the church periodically congregated with bishops, deacons, and priests.

  12. It’s a novel concept to suggest that your right to hold an opinion, or your suitability to receive Government funding, depends on having the right imaginary friend.

    As many have commented below, organised religion has no call on public money. Separation of church and state is a well established and sensible principle. Cayman is over-supplied with churches anyway, and if they cannot meet their financial needs from their own congregation then they are clearly surplus to requirements.

  13. Whatever logo is on the cap is the allegiance of the wearer. Cayman ceased to be a Christian country quite a few years ago. In fact, the God of the Cayman Islands is the god of the Lodge, the same Lodge where all of the important decisions are made.
    These politicians and national leaders wouldn’t know a Bible if it bit them on the butt. We have Lodge politicians, Lodge Monetary Authority, Lodge police, Lodge judiciary, Lodge media, Lodge senior government. Yes indeed, Cayman is a Christian country? Go sit down Miss Julie.

  14. And the churches can periodically congregated with bishops, deacons, and priests.

    Help yourself. It’s what the vatican is for.

    but no where does it say, you must go to church to have your sins absolved. And the reason why it does not. Is because only God can absolve sins.

    a congregation can be 2 or more people. Just as you congregate in your home.

    And since God does not have to wipe his feet at any door step. Are you telling all the readers here. That God only exists in a Church.

    So please. A church is outdated as a time piece. Hard truth, but if it wasn’t and I am so wrong. Why would any church need government assistance?

    After all, they should be thriving and doing financially well, with no need for government assistance. Not outdated like my time piece reference, right?

  15. What bothers me more than anything else about the monies given away to these churches, is that we have children at our schools who are right now hungry. Their parents are struggling hard to provide for them proper lunches, and here we are giving thousands of dollars away to churches – for what?!

  16. big bird, the Catholic Church is doing financially well. There is no other church that is doing so well like Catholic. It is the wealthiest church on earth, because it is the true Church. It may not be the pure church, but it is historically the true Christian church and any other church (daughters to mother) is indebt to it for Christmas, Easter, most holidays, and their teachings.

    No one saying that God only exist in a Church, but according to Christianity or the Christian God, he chose to breath and give life to the world through His Church. He says – ye are the light of the world, a city on a hill can not be hidden. And that is the teaching. I didnt make this up. This is the Christian God unless you adopt a other view of God.

    As to absolving sins. True… .only the Christian God can absolve our sins – no one else. And we may pray in our private rooms to have our venial or minor sins absolved. However, as to our mortal sins, they are sins that can only be absolved with constant intercession, prayer, and through confession to the Priest. Christ gave the the power to forgive sins to his disciples, and the early church fathers taught confession must be made to a Priest – I didnt make this up. Hence during the early church days, mortal sins have always been absolved like it was done during old testament times when a Jew that sinned had to bring his or her own lamb to be slain before the Isreali Priest. So it was then, so it is now under the new covenant of grace.

    Question: When you are wounded do you not show and confess your deadly wounds to the qualified doctor?

  17. State funds should never be used to fund churches. This means that the churches cannot be free from bias as they will feel obligated to keep their mouths shut even when the state acts in an ungodly manner! And why all the hush hush about it?

  18. @Bodden I honestly don’t believe anyone can come on this website and pronounce on which church is the right church.I personally will not confess my sins to any man and ask him for forgiveness. Only God can forgive sins.The human high Priest was replaced by Jesus Christ when he died on the cross, so I don’t have to confess to a Priest. If that is your belief hold on to it but I don’t believe any priest can forgive sins or pray for anyone’s sin. That’s your point of view only

  19. All churches have their links to the Vatican! That is why they are all classified as Protestants. Because they protested against the teachings of the Catholic Church, which is the original Christian faith.

    Mr. Islander, yes, only God forgive sins, but Jesus appointed apostles and ministers to carry on His work. Through them the mysteries of the faith was to be carried out. You can’t deny this unless you deny the Holy Bible.


  20. @Bodden You’re wrong on both counts. It’s not true that all churches have links to the Vatican, and the Roman Catholic Church is not the original Christian faith. That is RC propaganda. Christ and his disciples would not recognise the RCC as their church. They knew nothing of praying to dead saints and Mary the mother of Jesus and would have regarded it as necromancy and idolatry. The RCC is a syncretistic religion that borrowed much from paganism, including the title of its pope ‘Pontifex Maximus’.

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