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New Bishop for Bermuda: The Church of England Newspaper, February 10, 2013 p 7. February 15, 2013

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Bishop-elect Nicholas Dill of Bermuda

Pending confirmation by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rev. Nicholas Dill, minister of Pembroke Parish, will be the next Bishop of Bermuda.

On 2 Feb 2013 the 44 member diocesan synod elected the 49-year old father of six and native Bermudian and graduate of Wycliffe Hall to be the next bishop of the extra-provincial diocese. Mr. Dill was elected on the third ballot, receiving a majority of the 12 clerical and 32 lay votes in the synod, beating Archdeacon Andrew Doughty for the post.

After announcing the results of the election, Diocesan Commissary David Cooper said: “I will now be notifying the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury of the result of the election, seeking confirmation of the appointment of Reverend Nicholas Dill as the next Bishop of Bermuda.”

In the pre-election hustings, Mr. Dill said that while he had voted against women being ordained to the priesthood when the matter was laid before synod, he would not undo his predecessor’s decision to allow women priests. The bishop-elect also said it was time for the Anglican Church to move beyond its historical position as the church of the establishment and reach out to the young and marginalized.

He told delegates the model for church growth in Bermuda lay in the “vibrant” Anglican Churches of Africa and Southeast Asia, and pledged to do his part in helping bring the church into the modern age.

Bermuda synod rejects retirement rule change: The Church of England Newspaper, June 17, 2012 p 6. June 21, 2012

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Dr. Patrick White

The Diocese of Bermuda has declined to amend its constitution to waive rules requiring its bishop to retire at the age of 70.

Last month the diocesan synod took up a bill proposed by diocesan chancellor that would amend the retirement rules for bishops.  Under current law bishops may retire once they reach the age of 65, but must retire at the age of 70.  While a majority of members in the House of Clergy and House of Laity backed the amendment, it did not receive the required two-thirds margin and failed.

The current bishop, the Rt. Rev. Patrick White was elected in 2008 at the age of 65 and will turn 70 in September 2012.  A supporter of the ordination of women to the clergy, Bishop White has helped the diocese navigate through the dispute.

“It’s important to extend the ministry to women to have them ordained,” the bishop said after his election, adding that it’s a “priority for me and I hope for other people in the church as well. It is a decision that we will work on together.”

Women clergy ordained overseas are now licenced in the Diocese of Bermuda, but no local women clergy have been ordained at this time.

The diocese has also had to grapple with decline numbers.  Preliminary results from the 2010 census of Bermuda report the Anglican Church has seen a 28 per cent decline in its members over the past ten years.

With the exception of the Roman Catholic Church and Seventh Day Adventists, the island’s main religious groups have all seen a sharp decline.  However, Dr. White told the Bermuda Sun the census report does not correlate with the experience of congregations, which have not reported a precipitous drop in attendance.

The Church of England in Bermuda, the country’s largest denomination declined from 14,000 self-identified members in 2000 to 10,138 in 2010.  The Roman Catholic Church rose from 9,275 to 9,340 people during the same period, while the third largest denomination, the African Methodist Episcopalian fell by 19 per cent.

The number of people who listed no church affiliation rose by 34 per cent, from 8,560 to 11,466.

The numbers may also reveal that “people might be more honest,” the bishop said.  “They have said they’re Anglicans in the past and have just admitted they have no real connection to the church or moved to one of the other churches which are growing.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Bermuda sees steep drop in Anglican numbers: The Church of England Newspaper, December 23, 2011 p 5. December 28, 2011

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Preliminary results from the 2010 census of Bermuda report the Anglican Church has seen a 28 per cent decline in its members over the past ten years.

With the exception of the Roman Catholic Church and Seventh Day Adventists, the island’s main religious groups have all seen a sharp decline.  However, Bishop Patrick White told the Bermuda Sun the census report does not correlate with the experience of congregations, which have not reported a precipitous drop in attendance. However, “the bottom line is it’s not terribly encouraging on the face of it and it means we have to do some serious thinking about what we can do to try and this around.”

The Church of England in Bermuda, the country’s largest denomination declined from 14,000 self-identified members in 2000 to 10,138 in 2010.  The Roman Catholic Church rose from 9,275 to 9,340 people during the same period, while the third largest denomination, the African Methodist Episcopalian fell by 19 per cent.

The number of people who listed no church affiliation rose by 34 per cent, from 8,560 to 11,466.

Dr White told the Sun, “The figures are saying we need to pay attention. There’s something significant going on here and we need to address it.”

However, the numbers may also reveal that “people might be more honest,” the bishop said.  “They have said they’re Anglicans in the past and have just admitted they have no real connection to the church or moved to one of the other churches which are growing.”

The Census is conducted under the authority of the Statistics Act, 2002, which requires everyone to respond – Bermudian and non-Bermudian, and is held every ten years. The final report is expected to be released early next year.

The Roman Catholic vicar general of Bermuda, Fr Paul Voisin, credited his church’s strength to a sustained emphasis on religious education for young people and favourable demographic trends.  “We have a programme which is maybe a bit more intensive and we hope that’s planting down firm roots.”

The recent influx of Portuguese and Filipino immigrants had also bolstered Catholic numbers.  “Filipinos have brought life to our parishes and that’s a positive — they are great contributors to parish life in a range of different activities.”

No going back on women priests in Bermuda: The Church of England Newspaper, July 1, 2011 p 8. July 1, 2011

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Bishop Patrick White of Bermuda

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Bermuda has dismissed suggestions his diocese was rethinking its 2009 decision to permit women priests.

Bishop Patrick White told The Church of England Newspaper that speculation over the postponement of the ordination of the island’s first woman deacon was misplaced. Neither the diocese nor I have “changed our minds about women’s ordination. It is in this case about a decision not to ordain this particular woman,” he said.

Elected in 2008, Bishop White had promised to end the ban on women priests in the diocese.  Shortly after his election, he told the diocese: “It’s important to extend the ministry to women to have them ordained,” adding that it’s a “priority for me and I hope for other people in the church as well. It is a decision that we will work on together.”

On June 22 the Bermuda Sun reported the ordination of the island’s first woman deacon had been postponed.  The decision not to ordain Jennifer Hodgkins (68) who trained at St John’s College, Nottingham prompted speculation that the diocese had second thoughts about what the Sun described as the ‘bitter’ battle over allowing women priests.

However, Dr. White said the issues revolved around a particular candidate for holy orders, not over women priests in general.  “To say anything more would be insensitive to her,” he said.

The bishop also questioned the Sun’s characterization of conservative clergy as “bitterly opposed to our decision to go ahead with the ordination of women. I work and worship with these men on a regular basis. If they are bitter they are hiding it well,” he noted.

Queen’s Bermuda service: CEN 12.04.09 p 1. December 10, 2009

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The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh attended a service of thanksgiving on Nov 25 at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Hamilton to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Bermuda.

On the second day of their three-day tour of Bermuda, the Royal couple joined 500 worshippers, local dignitaries and Foreign Secretary David Miliband at a 45-minute choral morning prayer service at the island’s Anglican Cathedral.

The Bishop of Bermuda, the Rt. Rev. Patrick White spoke of the island’s troubled racial history and the church’s tacit support for the slave trade. The church’s support and financial reliance on the labour of slaves was a “dark time” in its history, he observed.

“But where was the church. There in the middle still baptising, burying and so on but not rising above and challenging the process of slavery in any significant way at first.”

Bermuda’s history as having been founded as a commercial venture could be seen today in the materialism and consumerism many of its residents pursued, the bishop said. The lack of spiritual values was contributing to a violence prone younger generation, and a reawakening of racial tensions, Dr. White told the congregation.

The Queen’s first visit to Bermuda took place in 1953. Following the ceremony the Queen toured the naval dockyards, and a state dinner was held at government house at the end of the day. The Royal couple will travel on to Trinidad at the conclusion of their state visit.

Archbishop urges peace in Bermuda: CEN 10.09.09 p 6. October 11, 2009

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The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu has called upon the people of Bermuda to embrace a culture of forgiveness in world awash in violence.

Preaching at Holy Trinity Cathedral and to an open air congregation at the island’s Arboretum in Devonshire parish, Dr. Sentamu was the principal speaker for a series of celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of the church in Bermuda, entitled Faith Venture 2009. (On July 25, 1609 the Sea Venture, an English merchant ship sailing for Jamestown was wrecked on Bermuda, marking the first landing on the island.)

In his evening sermon, Dr. Sentamu spoke of the war and violence dividing mankind. “You know friends, child soldiers carry and use AK45’s, you know arms manufacturers make millions out of this misery and computer games teach children hideous violence on screen, giving young people the thrill of violence supposedly without its spills,” he said.

“If only, Jesus cried over Jerusalem, these people knew the way to real peace. Friends I have an amazing message, the message of forgiveness; the message of reconciliation is not an easy one, as they can tell us in South Africa, or Congo, or Northern Ireland, but friends it works.”

“Forgiveness of sins is at the heart of the gospel and for God’s greatest gift within each one of us is forgiveness for past sins, new life in the present and then hope for the future.”

“Here in Bermuda as in all parts of the world should we not be praying for a fresh wave of reconciliation,” Dr. Sentamu asked.

Bermuda welcomes Dr. Sentamu: CEN 10.02.09 p 8. October 11, 2009

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The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu will travel to Bermuda this week to lead festivities celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Anglican Church on the Atlantic island.

The Bishop of Bermuda, the Rt. Rev. Patrick White said “we are elated at the Archbishop’s impending visit. He is known for his energy and willingness to be on the front line in the fight for justice.”

Dr. Sentamu will deliver two public lectures during his tour of Bermuda, and is expeted to speak on the issues of racial reconciliation and unity. On Oct 4, he will preach at Holy Trinity Cathedral at the anniversary celebration service and later that day at the island’s Arboretum in an open air service.

Bermuda will ordain women: CEN 10.03.08 p 5. October 3, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Bermuda, Church of England Newspaper, Women Priests.
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Ordaining women will fill the church’s empty pews, the Bishop-elect of Bermuda said following his election last week.

Canon Patrick White, rector of St. Paul’s Church in Paget was elected by a special meeting of the diocesan synod on Sept 20 to succeed the island’s first black and first Bermudan bishop, the Rt. Rev. Ewen Ratteray. The new bishop’s election will now go to the Archbishop of Canterbury for approval.

A white Bermudan, Canon White, (65), will likely seek a change in the church’s canon law, permitting women clergy. “It’s important to extend the ministry to women to have them ordained,” he said, adding that it’s a “priority for me and I hope for other people in the church as well. It is a decision that we will work on together.”

Ordaining women would bring young people back into the church as “young people want to go where the action is,” he said.

It would address pragmatic concerns over the shortage of Bermudan clergy. Successive governments have imposed restrictions on the immigration of clergy onto the island. The church sought to work with the government and was “always interested in providing jobs for Bermudians, qualified Bermudians,” he told the Royal Gazette.

Deacons “can do weddings and parish visits, but don’t require the same level of theological education that a priest does,” he said, adding that the church was “moving away from the idea that you have to be a priest to do some things.”

Bermuda’s ban on women priests likely to end: CEN 9.19.08 p 31. September 19, 2008

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Bermuda’s ban on women priests will likely end this year, as the two candidates for bishop have announced their support for introducing women clergy to the island.

Canon Patrick White and Archdeacon Andrew Doughty, who are standing for election as bishop next week at a special meeting of the diocesan synod in both announced their support for overturning the diocese’s male-only rule for priests and deacons. The outgoing Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Ewen Ratteray who retired to Yorkshire in March, was an Anglo-Catholic traditionalist opposed the ordination of women.

Bermuda is an extra-provincial diocese of the Anglican Communion under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and is the last diocese under Dr. Williams’ metropolitan jurisdiction to forbid the ordination of women to the priesthood. Confirmation of the election of a Bishop of Bermuda is made by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

“The Anglican Church of Bermuda is called to reflect God’s kingdom by becoming an inclusive church where all people are welcomed and where all may find communion and absolution – mercy, nourishment and healing. Our ordained ministry shall reflect our people and our congregations,” Archdeacon Doughty said in a statement distributed to the synod delegates.

“Our clergy and ministry teams shall include blacks and whites, but also women and men, Bermudians and non-Bermudians,” he said, adding that he believed “that the ordination of women to the diaconate and the priesthood must be made an immediate priority.”

The archdeacon also said Bermuda should amend its human rights laws to include “sexual orientation in its protections. Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable in our Island or within our Anglican Church. We believe in a God of mercy and justice – a God of non-discrimination and wholeness.”

Canon White took a more moderate line saying “many Anglicans in Bermuda have been saying for some time that we need to reconsider our policy of not ordaining women.

“I hear that, and will go on record as saying I think we should proceed. However, I will also go on record as saying this must be a church decision taken only after we have listened to one another and concluded together that this is the right thing for us to do.”

However, he warned that the church should not focus solely on this issue to the exclusion of men, saying the Anglican Church should build up its men’s ministries. “We also need to do more for and with our men than invite them to business meetings. Life is the business of the church and not vice-versa.”

An amendment to the ordination canons in Bermuda, however, must be made by the diocesan synod and approved by the bishop and the archbishop.

Bermuda calls on Church to pay up: CEN 3.14.08 p 6. March 16, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Bermuda, Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies, Civil Rights, Politics.
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(Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, Hamilton, Bermuda)

A Bermudan government minister has called upon the Church of England to pay reparations in atonement for its role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

The Minister for Culture and Social Rehabilitation Mr. Dale Butler MP released a statement on March 1 “inviting the Church to do more to show the religious community and the people of Bermuda that it is committed to help heal the wounds of racial divide in Bermuda.”

Butler’s Progressive Labour Party (PLP) won a third term in the Dec 18 general elections against the conservative United Bermuda Party (UBP). The racially charged campaign was marked by accusations of corruption and calls for group solidarity.

The UBP-which had governed the British dependency since self-rule was granted in 1968—was ousted from power in 1998 by the PLP which promised a “new Bermuda.” The PLP promised to empower blacks who comprise about 60 percent of Bermuda’s 62,000 people saying they continued to face discrimination and enacted laws mandating racial preferences in the workplace.

Following the Church of England’s 2006 apology for its role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Premier Ewart Brown called upon the Diocese of Bermuda to issue its own apology. Whilst he applauded the diocese’s subsequent statement of remorse, Butler-a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church—called upon the Church of England to back up its words with cash and endow a scholarship programme for black Bermudians.

“The Minister believes, that while investment in the future of Black youth in Bermuda could never adequately compensate for the injustices done to past victims of the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Bermuda, a strengthened and long-lasting gesture on the part of the Anglican Church would contribute to healing a race that remains scarred by injustices that have not found acceptable resolution in Bermuda,” a statement released by Butler’s office said.

“The legacy of a scholarship could help heal this country that continues to be divided by race,” the PLP minister said.

The Bishop of Bermuda, the Rt. Rev. Ewan Rattray declined to comment, saying he was studying the request.

Bermuda leaders in row over clergy: CEN 11.16.07 p 9. November 19, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Bermuda, Church of England Newspaper, Politics.
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ewan-ratteray.jpegThe Bishop of Bermuda has charged the island’s government with playing politics in the licensing of overseas clergy.

Writing in his November diocesan newsletter, Bishop Ewan Rattray stated the Bermudian government’s “interference in the affairs of the Church” over the granting of residency permits had been “entirely inappropriate. Despite complying with the law at all times, we still seem unable to make significant progress,” he said.

The diocese’s difficulties stretched back over two decades, he noted, and involved the United Bermuda Party and Progressive Labour Party governments. While relations with the government were now cordial, “the way forward is still not absolutely clear.”

The government’s “decisions sometimes have had the appearance of being arbitrarily taken,” and were politically motivated, he charged. In 2003 the government refused to issue a work permit for a Canadian priest engaged as rector of St. Paul’s Church in Paget, ordering the diocese to employ a native Bermudan instead.

Bermuda law states that if there is a Bermudian ready and able to do the job, an employer may not hire a non-Bermudian. Work permits are strictly controlled, and are issued for periods ranging between one and three years, and renewal, while possible, is not certain.

Overseas clergy who ran afoul of some of their parishioners had been forced to leave the island after their residency permits were not renewed. Bishop Rattray said the actions of some Anglicans to rid themselves of troublesome priests by feeding “the Government with misinformation” was “reprehensible” and “sinister.”

These “persons who utilize the Government for their own selfish purposes are walking on extremely dangerous ground both for themselves and for the wellbeing of the Church,” he charged.

Bishop Rattray told his diocese that upon retirement in March 2008 he would leave the diocese and move to York, England where he has an apartment. “A number of people seem to view our plans as somewhat strange, especially as our children and grandchildren live here,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is that we neither own nor can afford to buy property in Bermuda; it is just too expensive.”

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