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Parliamentary service a “sacred legacy” archbishop tells MPs: The Church of England Newspaper, June 20, 2014 June 26, 2014

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The Primate of the Church of the Province of the West Indies, the Most Rev. John Holder, Bishop of Barbados, called upon members his nation’s parliament to put aside party differences and work for the good of the country. On 15 June 2014 Barbados celebrated the 375th anniversary of the creation of its Parliament, the oldest continuous Parliament of an independent Commonwealth country outside the British Isles, with a memorial service at St Mary’s Anglican Church in Bridgetown. In his sermon, Dr. Holder urged MPs “to move beyond the restrictions of party and take necessary political risks for the sake of country. You need sometimes to put the next elections out of your mind for a while, and think country instead of party. Just remember that this country is far bigger than all of the parliamentarians and all the members of the political parties together.” He told MPs they had “inherited what others have laboured and have died for. You have stepped into a stream that goes back some 375 years. There is a sacred legacy,” and as such they must put country before party. The thirty-member House of Assembly is divided 16 to 14 between the Democratic Labour Party and the Barbados Labour Party.

Politicians must share the pain, bishop declares: The Church of England Newspaper, May 2, 2014 June 2, 2014

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The Jamaican government’s call for the country to make sacrifices to see the nation through the economic depression that has gripped the Caribbean, must also be borne by the nation’s leaders, the Bishop of the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands told the 144th meeting of the diocese’s synod on 22 April 2014. The Rt. Rev. Howard Gregory welcomed the recent statement by the Governor General, Prime Minister and leader of the Opposition that the country was in need of a moral reawakening, but Jamaica’s leaders must set an example. The situation facing the country was analogous to that Israeli faced with during the time of the Prophet Nehemiah, the bishop said.  “Nehemiah, having challenged the people to make sacrifices for the common good by redeeming their debt, recognised that he, too, had to send a positive signal as to what he was prepared to do on his part,” he said. “It was not enough for him to be the leader of this mission. So Nehemiah took the decision to forgo his allowance as governor because of the heavy tax burden which the people were already being asked to bear,” Dr. Gregory said, adding Jamaica’s “need to send a signal which says that they, too, are part of the sacrifice, part of the project – not from somewhere up there, but on the ground where it hurts.”

Trinidad building appeal launched: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2014 January 27, 2014

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The Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago has launched a fundraising drive to restore one of the architectural landmarks of the Caribbean – Hayes Court, the historic episcopal residence of the island’s Anglican bishop.

On 3 Jan 2014 the Rt. Rev. Claude Berkley convened the Hayes Court Restoration Committee to lead a TT $24.1 million (£2.1 million) fundraising campaign to restore the colonial mansion. Listed on the Register of Monuments of the Greater Caribbean by the Organization of American States, Hayes Court stands along the western edge of Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain. Built in 1910 the great house stands in disrepair, riddled by termites, a leaking roof, crumbling stucco walls and pealing and cracked paint.

“It is our vision to restore Hayes Court to its former splendour as a centre of Anglican excellence while preserving a heritage site that we feel can serve to inspire pride and appreciation for our rich cultural legacy,” Bishop Berkley said.

West Indian economic crash prompts episcopal calls for thrift: The Church of England Newspaper, November 1, 2013 November 5, 2013

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An economic downturn and political turmoil in Barbados has prompted the Archbishop of the West Indies to challenge his countrymen to practice thrift and self-reliance. The Most Rev. John Holder has also tasked political leaders to set aside their political wrangling and work together to pull Barbados and the West Indies out of a protracted economic slump.

Last week the island’s Central Bank reported sharply lower foreign exchange reserves and a down turn in overseas investment, while economic growth was projected to be less than 1 per cent for the coming fiscal year. Last month the IMF forecast no grown for 2013 and 2014 for Barbados — marking it as one of the most sluggish economies in the hemisphere.

On 23 October 2013 Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler survived a no-confidence motion by a vote of 15-14. The Barbados Labour Party had charged the government with incompetence in managing the country’s fiscal affairs.

In response, Archbishop John Holder, the Bishop of Barbados, released a statement on 26 October with the church’s Advocacy and Social Justice Commission urging Barbadians to “use the coping and creative skills we have to ride out the recession and lay the groundwork for an economic rebound.”

“Barbadians of earlier times fought against the odds and laid the foundation for the quality of life we now enjoy,” the archbishop said, adding: “We are proud inheritors of such a spirit of fortitude and resilience, and we must show that we are capable of peacefully getting past the present economic setbacks and building a more prosperous and just nation.”

“We do have some control over our destiny. What we must not do is to throw up our hands in despair and just wait for the IMF’s dire forecast to be realised. Rather, we should use the unfavourable assessment as motivation to redouble our efforts to prove the predictions wrong.”

While crying up thrift for the people, the archbishop also challenged the government to institute social and economic reforms. “We must re-examine our systems and structures, and work to ensure that those Barbadians who consider themselves to be marginalised are given the opportunity to enjoy some of the benefits of a prosperous Barbados,” the statement said.

Politicians needed to do their part as well.  “Leaders need to tone down the rhetoric and refrain from saying or doing anything which creates anxiety and despair. Instead, they should work together to find solutions to the problems which our nation faces. One up-manship and selfish actions will only serve to fracture the society at a time when unity is required,” the paper said.

West Indian bishops call for push back against Cameron’s gay agenda: The Church of England Newspaper, May 5, 2013 p 7. May 7, 2013

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The House of Bishops of the Church the Province of the West Indies (CPWI) has urged Caribbean political leaders to reject demands of the government of Prime Minister David Cameron and the Obama administration that it legalize gay rights and gay marriage.

In a statement released on 25 April 2013 at the close of the meeting in Barbados, the bishops said “the dangling of a carrot of economic assistance to faltering economies” in return for supporting the gay agenda “should be seen for what it is worth and should be resisted by people and government alike.”

At the October 2011 Commonwealth heads of Government meeting in Australia Mr. Cameron threatened countries that did not conform to his government’s views on homosexuality with losing aid payments. On 6 Dec 2011 Pres. Obama directed US government agencies working with overseas governments and organizations to push the administration’s support for the gay agenda.

The West Indian bishops reiterated their belief in marriage “defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman” and said same-sex marriage was “totally unacceptable on theological and cultural grounds.”

“Matters related to human sexuality have been elevated to the level of human rights” by the US and Britain “and are being promulgated as positions which must be accepted globally.”

Britain could no longer dictate its morality to the people Caribbean. “The threat and use of economic sanctions are not new experiences for us, neither is the claim to a superior morality convincing for peoples who have known the experience of chattel slavery in our past.  While claiming to invoke human rights as the basis for such imposition, we submit that the same principle must allow us the right to affirm our cultural and religious convictions regarding our definitions of that most basic of social institutions, marriage,” the bishops said.

 

Anglican Unscripted Episode 70 April 28, 2013 April 28, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of the Province of the West Indies, GAFCON, Property Litigation, South Carolina, Virginia.
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In Episode 70, your hosts talk about their experiences from the New Wineskins Global Conference held in Ridgecrest, NC. Kevin and George also discuss (in depth) the Boston Bombing and the new hobby terrorist. In our legal segment Allan Haley tries to redeem his years of Unscripted Legal Commentary by demanding that judges follow the D**n law. Oh… and much more including Gafcon news. #AU70 AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com

Bishops denounce Obama blackmail over gay rights: Anglican Ink. April 27, 2013 April 27, 2013

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The Anglican bishops of the West Indies have urged their governments to hold fast and resist pressure from Britain and the United States to legalize gay rights and gay marriage.

In a statement released on 25 April 2013 following the House of Bishops meeting in Barbados, bishops of the Church the Province of the West Indies (CPWI) reiterated their belief in marriage “defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman.”

“The idea of such unions being constituted by persons of the same sex is, therefore, totally unacceptable on theological and cultural grounds,” the bishops said. The CPWI consists of eight dioceses: the Diocese of Barbados, the Diocese of Belize, the Diocese of Guyana, the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, the Diocese of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Diocese of the North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba, the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago and the Diocese of the Windward Islands.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Crime concerns dominate Jamaican synod: The Church of England Newspaper, April 14, 2013, p 7. April 16, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies, Corruption, Crime, Gambling.
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The Bishop of Jamaica has denounced his government’s slow response to a lottery scam that has defrauded thousands of elderly Americans, saying it was symptomatic of the breakdown of law and order in the West Indies.

In his presidential address to the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands at the 143rd annual meeting of Synod held at St Ann’s Bay parish church, Bishop Howard Gregory said the “system of justice needs to become a primary focus of attention.”

“As a nation we are being called to repentance with a consequent change of action in relation to the blood of our young men and our women and children which is being shed daily in our country by criminal elements, but just as significant in the resolution of domestic disputes.”

The Bishop condemned the government for permitting the sale of lottery tickets on Sunday. He noted that the legislation passed during holy week led him to ask “whether this is an expression of gross insensitivity or a statement concerning the way forward for the relationship between church and society”.

He also took the government to task for not moving to stop the “Jamaican lottery scam” until the U.S. Senate began hearings on the crimes.

A report by CBS reported that in 2012 over 29,000 lottery scam complaints were filed with American police agencies. Posing as representatives of Publishers Clearinghouse and other lottery and sweepstakes firms, the scammers would tell elderly Americans that they had won a cash prize but first needed to make a tax payment before the money would be released. The Jamaican-based fraud had taken in tens of millions of dollars, prosecutors have alleged.

“After seven years of public awareness of the lottery scam, our Government has only managed to table anti-scamming legislation and talk tough at the very moment when the United States Senate was holding a [Senate] hearing on the scam in Jamaica,” Bishop Gregory said.

The government’s failure to act did nothing to combat Jamaica’s reputation as a den of crime and corruption. “The way we are presenting ourselves to the world in terms of our moral values as a nation calls for serious repentance on the part of citizens and political leaders as a whole,” he said.

The willingness also of ordinary Jamaicans to countenance the lottery scam told the world “we have some very skewed moral values.”

Voter apathy is the death of democracy Bahamian bishop warns: The Church of England Newspaper, February 3, 2013 p 7. February 5, 2013

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The democratic process is more important to civil society than the outcome of any election, the Anglican Bishop in Nassau said on Sunday, as he urged Bahamians to go to the polls this week and make their voice heard in the country’s gambling referendum. The Rt. Rev. Laish Boyd, Bishop of the Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Islands, said that while the church opposed gambling, it would not tell people how to vote.

“At this junction it is not important to focus on who will vote ‘yes’ and who will note ‘no’, since persons are entitled to their considered position on the subject, and since people will form and hold their own opinions,” the bishop said.

The “issue now is citizen participation,” Bishop Boyd said. “I call on every registered voter to go out and to vote on Monday, January 28.”

Tourists are permitted to gamble in the island’s casinos, but no legal form of gambling is allowed for Bahamians. However, an illegal but widespread lottery known as the numbers or policy is popular across the islands. A common form of gambling in urban America before the legalization of state lotteries, in the numbers game a gambler places a bet with a bookie in a betting parlor (most often bars, barbershops and other semi-public venues)  hoping to select the winning three digit number drawn at random.

The bishop said the diocese “does not support the legalization of the numbers business. This remains our position since stated publicly in 2010 and before that.”

But he was also concerned about voter apathy. “Some people have concluded that they will stay out of the process,” Bishop Boyd said. “This is wrong because your vote is important.”

“We are blessed in this country with many freedoms, e.g., freedom of religion, association and expression, the freedom to hold and to express different opinions and the privilege of free and fair elections,” the bishop said.

“Make sure you fulfill your national responsibility by casting your ballot in the referendum.”

While a few prominent pastors have called for the legalization of the numbers game, the Bahamian Christian Council has urged the country to vote “no” to the proposal that supporters say would raise revenue for the government and take the numbers game out of the hands of criminals. Church leaders, including Bishop Boyd, have urged voters to say “no”, saying the financial rewards to the state of gambling are outweighed by the social and moral costs it imposes on the people.

Bishop backs bus preaching ban: The Church of England Newspaper, December 13, 2012 December 19, 2012

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The Bishop of Jamaica has backed the Jamaica Urban Transit Company’s (JUTC’s) ban on bus preachers, saying that proselytizing passengers on public transport was “boorish.” Writing in last week’s Kingston Sunday Observer, Bishop Howard Gregory said that while Christians were called to “go and make disciples of all nations”, that did not mean Christians should harangue people to accept Jesus Christ as their saviour.

The bishop objected to a culture of “noise-making” adopted by some Christian groups that had led to harangues on public transport and proselytizing in hospitals. “I am aware of situations in which such persons attempt to take very sick patients out of hospital beds in order to get them baptised by immersion. The situation has become unbearable,” Bishop Gregory said.

Last month the managing director of the JUTC, Hardley Lewin, banned bus preachers following complaints of aggressive proselytizing on the country’s public transport. Several Pentecostal pastors have denounced the ban and called Admiral Lewin the “anti-Christ” for regulating when and where they can preach.

However Bishop Gregory wrote that bus preachers had misconstrued the Gospel. While Matthew 28:18-20 proclaims the Christian imperative to evangelize, “unfortunately, there have been many instances in history when the church has understood this to mean the coercion and mandatory conversion of persons to the faith,” the bishop wrote.

“These are sad chapters in the life of the church and to which the church in this age should not lend its support,” he wrote, adding that this “approach to the exercise of the mission of the church is inconsistent” with the model of ministry presented in the Gospels and the Book of Acts.

“There was never any attempt to corral an audience and then present the Gospel to them, but rather, a recognition that the appeal of the gospel is voluntary and must not be presented to people in ways that are boorish and an imposition.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Bishop weeps for Kingston: The Church of England Newspaper, November 11, 2012 p 7. November 13, 2012

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The Bishop of Jamaica has called upon the government to take action to halt the physical and social decay of Kingston.

In a 28 Oct 2012 service marking the 140th anniversary of the city’s being made capital of the island, the Rt. Rev. Howard Gregory said the “decay of Kingston is in evidence all around and is reflected both in the physical environment as well as in the social life of many of its residents. Every time I travel to cities abroad and see what the renewal of cities can look like, I weep over my city.”

The city had been built on a “well-laid out” grid with “good infrastructure” that had been allowed to slide into decay he said.  Founded in 1692, Kingston is the commercial hub and capital of Jamaica and has an estimated population of almost 1 million.  In recent years the city has been the scene of widespread gang violence that has led to a flight to the suburbs of the professional and middle classes.

“The lack of adequate planning for the city is obvious for all to see,” the bishop said, noting that zoning laws were not enforced, garbage not collected, and the roads not maintained.

He denounced the indifference the government displayed towards the provision of basic public services.  “In our city, a garage can begin operation on your street, and there is no agent of state, which will respond with any measure of effectiveness. And the sad thing about it all is that the residents can complain from now to eternity and they are not receiving a response from those individuals and institutions charged with governance that would allow people to foster a sense of ownership of their communities, and partnership with municipal authorities.”

State neglect combined with a lack of civic pride meant that “all the older residential communities falling to pieces,” he said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Think twice about a republic, Jamaican bishop warns: The Church of England Newspaper, June 17, 2012 p 6. June 15, 2012

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Dr. Howard Gregory

The Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands has urged Jamaicans to think carefully before backing the Caribbean island government’s plans for a republic.

In a service at St. Andrew’s Parish Church in Kingston marking the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen on 10 June 2012, the Rt. Rev. & Hon. Howard Gregory stated the “zeal” to become a republic would not solve the country’s political problems.

“Today, our nation now finds itself at the crossroads as we seek to continue the historical process of self-identity and self-definition, which was consolidated in our attainment of Independence in 1962. Fifty years later, we now seek to take a further step by taking the inevitable step towards becoming a republic.”

“I believe that in our zeal, we run the real risk of discrediting the monarchical system of governance which has brought us thus far. While we do so in a political culture, which is increasingly cynical and despairing of political leadership and governance, we need to be extremely careful that we do not evaluate the system which has brought us thus far with such negativity, if not impoliteness and ungraciousness,” the bishop said.

Drawing upon middle class fiscal discontent the People’s National Party (PNP) led by Portia Miller-Simpson trounced the ruling conservative Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) of Prime Minister Andrew Holness at the 29 December 2011 election.  While the swing toward the PNP was only 3.7 per cent, with only 60,000 votes separating the parties out of 800,000 cast, the PNP won the majority of closely contested districts, giving it 42 seats to the JLP’s 21 in parliament.

Among its campaign pledges, the PNP promised to break its current ties with the UK and establish a republic in time for the 50th anniversary of independence celebration.

Speaking at a beacon lighting ceremony in downtown Kingston last week in celebration of the Jubilee, Mrs. Simpson-Miller affirmed her government’s desire to become a republic.  But she added that Jamaica will always hold the monarchy in high esteem and valued its membership in the Commonwealth.

However, in his Jubilee sermon Bishop Gregory questioned the moves toward a republic, and lauded the Queen’s service to her subjects.

“Having assumed the throne, which was thrust upon her by circumstances that were not of her making, … she has brought to the monarchy … singleness of purpose, dedication and sensitivity to her people, often a resounding theme in her Christmas messages and on the occasion of her visit to various nations. She has also brought a level of humanity and public engagement as much as the office has allowed as head of a royal household and of a realm,” the bishop said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Keep drug money out of church, bishop pleads: The Church of England Newspaper, May 31, 2012 May 31, 2012

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Bishop Howard Gregory

The Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, the Rt. Rev. & Hon. Howard Gregory called upon Anglicans to stand fast against the tide of corruption racing through the West Indian nation.

In his 18 May 2012 sermon at his service of institution as 14th bishop of Jamaica held at the Cathedral of St. Jago de la Vega in Spanish Town, Dr. Gregory said the church must recommit itself to preaching the Gospel with “power and effectiveness” to a “world that is desperately in need of the good news, even as it is being bombarded by secularism which, while seeking to undermine religious faith, has nothing to offer in filling the void it is creating in the life of persons seeking to find a sense of meaning and purpose.”

Christians are a “people called out and yet in the world,” the bishops said.  And “this calls for an act of consecration of the self to God and to God’s service if this is to be realised.”

In Jamaica this consecration of the self must include a rejection of the culture of corruption that was ravaging the country.

“We live in a society which is permeated at every level by corruption, and in which we benefit co-operatively from ill-gotten gain, and not just the acts of corruption, supposedly restricted to politicians and those in the public service,” the bishop said.

“For example, the inflows into this country from the lotto scam has wide circulation within the economy, and there is not only a culture of silence around it among some persons, but there are many who would suggest that there is nothing wrong with it. When parents can accept the gift of a home from a 15-year-old who is not working, and be contented with it, and when teachers in our schools can tell us of the high school students who own their own substantial three-bedroom house, and multiple taxis plying routes, you know that things have gone terribly wrong in this country, where our values and morality are concerned,” the bishop said.

It was no good pointing the finger at others, Dr. Gregory said, as the church was caught up in this web also.  “We, members of the Church, are caught up in the corruption or are benefiting from it.”

Church fundraising activities “need to be subjected to closer scrutiny, as they run the risk of bringing drug and other tainted money into the coffers of the Church. Likewise, while the Church seeks to minister to the spiritual needs of all people, we must be careful how we bend over backward to charge fees and to accommodate some funerals that are bashment affairs funded by money of dubious origin,” Dr. Gregory said.

The bishop also challenged Anglicans to “re-think the excesses and vulgarity which are attending many weddings and funerals, even as those making such expenditures and displays claim to have nothing to assist needy children and young people in our congregations and society.”

Some cultures believe that “nothing goes into the ground with the dead which cannot be of use to the next generation. We would do well to take a leaf out of their book so that we can invest in the creation of a community of love” and for a better Jamaica, the bishop said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Crime is killing the Caribbean, bishop warns: The Church of England Newspaper, April 6, 2012 p 6. April 9, 2012

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Bishop Howard Gregory

Corruption and crime are the most immediate evils facing Caribbean society the new Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands has warned.  There has been a breakdown of trust in society that was reflected in rising social tensions, voter apathy and greed, Bishop Howard Gregory said in his first interview following his election on 27 March 2012.

The new bishop’s warning follows the publication of a report by the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) that the region’s rising crime rates were threatening the economies of the Caribbean.  The Caribbean Human Development Report 2012, reported that with the exception of Barbados and Suriname, homicide rates – including gang-related killings – have increased substantially in the last 12 years across the Caribbean, while they have been falling or stabilizing in other parts of the world.

Latin America and the Caribbean are home to 8.5 per cent of the world population, yet the region accounts for some 27 per cent of the world’s homicides, according to the UNDP report. While the total number of murders in Jamaica dropped to 1,124 in 2011 – a seven-year low – the country has the highest homicide rate in the Caribbean and the third-highest murder rate worldwide in recent years, with about 60 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.  Only El Salvador and Honduras have higher rates, with 66 and 82.1 murders respectively per 100,000 people.

“Violence limits people’s choices, threatens their physical integrity, and disrupts their daily lives,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, urging Caribbean governments to tackle crime head on.

The reported estimated that gang-related crime cost between 2.8 and 4 per cent of gross domestic product in the region, due to reduced tourism and higher policing and jailing costs.   Crime costs Jamaica over $529 million a year in lost income, the report found, while in Trinidad and Tobago, a one per cent reduction in youth crime would boost tourism revenue by $35 million per year.

Gang-related crime was only part of the problem, Bishop Gregory said.  “I am concerned that those in governance are not doing enough to deal with issues of corruption,” he told the Gleaner.  This had led to a breakdown of trust between the people and the state.

He further said that there was a breakdown of trust in society which needs to be addressed and he would not shy away from taking on the challenge.

“What we have seen in terms of voter turnout is indicative of something happening in the society. I believe that is finding its way into the church as well. People are feeling frustrated, they want to see things happening,” he said, adding that there was a “general mistrust of people in authority and leadership and people want to feel that they can trust those who are in leadership so that is one of the issues that I think I need to deal with.”

The Rt. Rev. Howard Gregory was elected bishop at a special meeting of synod on the second ballot by the 131 clergy and 200 lay delegates to the Elective Assembly held at St Luke’s Church Hall in Cross Roads. On the first round of voting, the Suffragan Bishop of Kingston, the Rt. Rev. Robert Thompson, led in the balloting but fell short of the two thirds majority required. However, Bishop Thompson withdrew following the first ballot and Bishop Howard received two-thirds of the vote on the second round.  Elected Suffragan Bishop of Montego Bay in 2002, Bishop Howard has been serving as the administrator of the diocese since Bishop Alfred Reid retired in December.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Bahamas celebrates the diamond jubilee: The Church of England Newspaper, March 16, 2012 p 6. March 21, 2012

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The Bishop of the Bahamas and Dean of Nassau greet Prince Harry on the steps of Christ Church Cathedral, Nassau

In a service celebrating the diamond jubilee, the Bishop of the Bahamas has called upon his countrymen to emulate the Queen’s faithfulness to God, her country and people.

In a sermon delivered at Nassau’s Christ Church Cathedral on 4 March 2012 before a congregation that included HRH Prince Harry of Wales, leaders of government, parliament, the judiciary, church and military, Bishop Laish Boyd called upon the country’s leaders to be as faithful to their duties as the Queen was to hers.

The “real test” of leadership was commitment, said Bishop Boyd. “The carrying out of that duty every day, every week, every month, every year, in good weather, in bad weather, whether I feel like it, or whether I don’t feel like it, that is the challenge.”

The Queen “has been diligent, faithful, unswerving, steadfast and sure in the execution of her duties and her availability to all who must call upon her. As monarch, she represents in so many ways, the image of leadership, stability, continuity, a link with the past and our heritage — a link with the present and the life we now live, and a link with the future,” he said.

Bahamians should, like the Queen, see their work as a gift from God and a responsibility before God.  No matter what the call given in life might be, it was really about God.

“Often as human beings we see ourselves in terms of who we are, what we have done, what we have experienced, what we struggle with. We see ourselves in terms of our pains and wounds, our successes, our accomplishment, and all of these things are important because they form our identity; however on our human journey, we are called not to focus only upon ourselves, but to see ourselves in terms of what God has for us to be and what God calls us to,” he said.

Bishop Boyd concluded that “as we worship God and thank God for the contribution of Queen Elizabeth II and all that she means to us, let us also remember that we have been called to serve, and wherever we are called to give it, it will reach its full potential only if we let go of self, and throw ourselves into the arms of God.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

‘Stay out of politics’, Bahamian PM tells Archbishop Gomez: Anglican Ink, March 14, 2012 March 15, 2012

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The former Archbishop of the West Indies Drexel Gomez has come under attack from the Prime Minister of the Bahamas and the government’s supporters in the press for attending an opposition campaign rally.

On 5 March 2012 Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham told a rally of his Free National Movement (FNM) on Long Island that it was inappropriate for a clergyman to attend a political meeting while wearing his clerical collar as it implied church support for a political party.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Dr. Sentamu starts Jamaican tour: The Church of England Newspaper, January 26, 2012 February 2, 2012

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Dr. Sentamu greeted in Montego Bay by the Minister of State for Tourism Damian Crawford

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of York helped kick off celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence this week, preaching at an ecumenical service in Montego Bay on 22 January 2012.

Dr. John Sentamu and his wife will tour Jamaica from 21-31 January as a guest of the island’s Tourist Board and the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands and is scheduled to meet with clergy, government leaders and citizens of the Caribbean island nation.

In his sermon last Sunday at St James Parish Church in Montego Bay, Dr. Sentamu urged Jamaicans to tear down the barriers of class and race that divided them.

“The problem of barriers is by no means confined to the ancient world, but there is no room for the fences which we erect and use to separate. Today, there are all sorts of zigzags and crisscrossing separating fences. There is one that includes people as well as colour, culture, ethnicity, gender, public status and greed. You should not allow these elements to dominate your nation when you have Jesus Christ as your foundation.”

“You must ensure that you never make creeds to divide and never set up barriers that serve to keep others from enjoying the beauty and wealth of what God has ordained for everyone,” the archbishop said.

The archbishop is scheduled to preach next Sunday at a special service at the Cathedral in Spanish Town.

He argued that while peace treaties and agreements have been signed all over the world, legal documents, by themselves, could not attain peace and harmony in a nation without expressions by the human element.

In a statement released before his departure for the Caribbean, the UK Director of the Jamaica Tourist Board, Elizabeth Fox noted that “Jamaicans are deeply religious people and in fact, Jamaica has more churches per square mile than any other country in the world. We hope therefore that religious groups and Jamaican Diaspora in the UK will see this as an opportunity to go back and visit during the Archbishop’s visit.”

Bishop calls on Jamaica to honour people power pledge: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2012 p 6. January 12, 2012

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Bishop Robert Thompson

The Bishop of Kingston has called upon the newly elected government of Prime Minister Portia Miller-Simpson to honour its “people power” pledge and not turn its back on the poor now that it has returned to office.

At an invocation delivered at the first meeting of the cabinet on 9 January, Bishop Robert Thompson, the suffragan bishop of Kingston, reminded the government of its pledge not to treat the poor as objects, but to include them in the life of the nation.

Drawing upon middle class fiscal discontent Mrs.  Miller-Simpson’s People’s National Party (PNP) expanded upon its working class base to return to office for the first time since 2007.  Among its campaign pledges, the PNP promised to break its current ties with the UK and establish a republic in time for the 50th anniversary of independence celebration this June, and to repeal Jamaica’s “Buggery Laws”, de-criminalizing homosexual conduct.

The liberal PNP trounced the rule conservative Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) of Prime Minister Andrew Holness at the 29 December 2011 election.  While the swing toward the PNP was only 3.7 per cent, with only 60,000 votes separating the parties out of 800,000 cast, the PNP won the majority of closely contested districts, giving it 42 seats to the JLP’s 21 in parliament.

Unemployment is presently running at 13 per cent in Jamaica, and in the poorer neighborhoods of Kingston it climbs to 60 per cent among the young.  Approximately 43 per cent of the population lives on below the poverty line of $2.50 a day, the IMF reports, while Jamaica’s state debt has ballooned to $18.6 billion – accounting for a third of the country’s GDP.

The JLP was also hurt by its purported links to organized crime.  The former government of had opposed the extradition to the U.S. on narcotic charges of criminal kingpin Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, leader of the Shower Posse gang.  Coke was arrested in May 2010 after a combined police/army raid on his headquarters in Kingston left 70 dead.

In a widely reported sermon preached on 1 Jan 2012 at the Kingston Parish Church, Bishop Thompson noted that successive governments had courted the votes of the poor, but ignored them after taking office.

“It never fails to amaze me, that when successive governments speak about a social contract, the poor are usually excluded from the equation,” said the bishop. “We make a terrible mistake when we assume that the poor have nothing to contribute to the social capital.”

“History teaches us that when the gap grows between the rich and the poor, when the middle gets increasingly squeezed, and those at the bottom are almost completely forgotten, social bonds begin to unravel and resentment sets in,” the bishop said.

“The poor must not be seen as the subject of our benevolence, but as part of the social capital for national development,” he argued.

“When you don’t believe you belong, you are not likely to make sacrifices for the greater good. I hope our new prime minister will be someone who promotes the [common good] by being open and available to others while, at the same time, affirming their self-worth. Nothing short of that will work in the Jamaica of today,” Bishop Thompson said.

Martial law in Trinidad: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 9, 2011 p 6. September 14, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies, Crime.
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Kamla Persad-Bissessar

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Crime was the greatest scourge facing the West Indies today, the Archdeacon of Barbados told the island nation’s legal community at a ‘Red Mass’ marking the start of the legal year and must be countered by a national dialogue on its moral and social causes.

Archdeacon Eric Lynch’s Sept 5 call for action came one day after neighboring Trinidad & Tobago held a rare Sunday sitting of Parliament, which voted to extend the country’s state of emergency imposed last month to battle the Caribbean country’s criminal gangs.

Trinidad Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar told Parliament the state of emergency has “worked” and prevented “a criminal uprising of untold proportions.”

The two-island nation is under an 11 p.m to 4 a.m. curfew and the security services have been given the authority to search suspects and property without a warrant.  The army has also joined the police in patrolling high crime areas.  The prime minister told Parliament the state of emergency had greatly reduced serious crime and resulted in 1,356 arrests as of Sept 4, including 33 homicide arrests.

Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday said his party opposed the state of emergency, warning that if it failed “then the criminals have won and you have played your trumps.”

Martial law was a disproportionate response to the Trinidad crime wave, Mr. Panday said, which has spawned 280 murders this year, including 11 deaths over the weekend of Aug 20-21.

In his sermon at Barbados’ St Mary’s Church, Archdeacon Lynch said sin and a materialistic culture were the cause of the West Indian criminal culture.  Taking back society from criminals was a two-pronged project—good policing and the moral regeneration of souls, the archdeacon said.

‘Hands off church land’ diocese tells govt: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 2, 2011 September 6, 2011

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Nuttall Memorial Hospital

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Diocese of Jamaica has denounced state plans to amend the country’s eminent domain laws to allow the government to confiscate private property for commercial redevelopment.

On 19 August the Suffragan Bishop of Montego Bay, the Rt Rev Howard Gregory released a statement on behalf of the Diocese defending the private property rights of citizens in the face of government encroachment. His remarks followed comments made by the head of the state’s Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Ms Joy Douglas, that the UDC was interested in redeveloping the site of the church-owned Nuttall Memorial Hospital in Kingston for commercial uses.

“The right of individuals and institutions to own property is guaranteed by the Constitution” of Jamaica, the Bishop said, and “is protected against any form of compulsory acquisition without certain conditions being satisfied.

“Landownership has been of far more than symbolic value to our people in the history of this country, and for the Government of our nation, the largest landowner, to be proposing changing the laws which have guaranteed the right of citizens and institutions, in order to confiscate property, supposedly for the purpose of redevelopment, is not only unacceptable but in violation of our Constitution,” the Bishop said.

The Diocese was also perturbed by Ms Douglas’ statements that the UDC did not have the funds in hand to pay for land it wanted to acquire. Government “land grabbing” paid for by “some piece of paper which a future generation may be able to cash” was “unacceptable” Bishop Gregory said.

“The direction in which these things are pointing marks a major departure from our current practise and understanding of the rights of citizens, and must not be allowed to proceed without serious debate and engagement by the people of this nation,” the Bishop said.

The UDC responded that government had a “core charge” to “see to the development and redevelopment of urban areas and to address conditions of urban blight.”

However, in the case of the Nuttall Memorial Hospital grounds the Diocese’s concerns were misplaced. The UDC “has not at this time formulated any concept with respect to any specific use of that area in emerging development plans.”

West Indian church rejects call to decriminalize homosexuality: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 5, 2011 p 5. August 10, 2011

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Bishop Philip Wright of Belize

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Anglican Diocese of Belize has joined the country’s other Churches in opposing reform of the Caribbean nation’s sodomy laws.

Bishop Philip Wright of Belize, along with Roman Catholic Bishop Dorick Wright and the president of the Belize Evangelical Association, the Rev Eugene Crawford, have urged the government to stand fast against attempts to decriminalise homosexual conduct.

In May, the Belize Council of Churches stated it would seek to join as interested parties the case of Caleb Orozco and the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM) against the Attorney General of Belize. The Orozoco case challenges the constitutionality of Section 53 of the Belize Criminal Code, Chapter 101 which prescribes 10 years imprisonment for “unnatural crime,” defined as “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal.”

Gay advocacy groups along with the International Commission of Jurists, the Commonwealth Lawyers Association and the Human Dignity Trust are seeking to overturn the law, and have engaged the former Attorney General of Belize and the former British Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, to argue their case in December before the country’s high court.

In May, Anglican and Roman Catholic Bishops and the president of the Evangelical Association criticised the lawsuit as being “heavily influenced by foreign interests who seek to impose a worldview that directly contradicts the supremacy of God as reflected in our laws, challenges our national sovereignty, and threatens our very way of life, not least by targeting our children.”

Decriminalising homosexuality was the thin edge of the wedge that would see homosexual behaviour transformed into a “right” that would inevitably see it promoted as a morally neutral behaviour, the bishops said.

“This homosexual agenda insists upon the promotion of homosexual acts in the schools and society, undermining the rights of parents as primary educators of their children and targeting even grammar school children under the guise of ‘comprehensive’ sexual education programmes that promote sodomy and immoral behaviour. It also demands that same-sex marriage must be recognised, and that no group may object to this agenda on religious or moral grounds,” the bishops said.

“Let us be clear what is at stake here,” they said. “In every country that has granted a new ‘right’ to homosexual behaviour, activists have promoted and steadily expanded this ‘right’ to trump universally recognised rights to religious freedom and expression.

On 26 July, the Belize Council of Churches — representing the majority of denominations in the West Indian country — stated that homosexual practices were sinful and contrary to the natural order.

They stated the arguments put forward by UNIBAM “on sex and sexuality”, on “sexual orientation and behaviour,” on the “concept of the family and on human reproduction” and on the moral good of “same-sex marriage” were “biblically unfounded and theologically unsound.”

The laws of Belize “reflect God’s law,” the Churches said and “all changes in the Constitution of Belize that will not promote the sanctity of human sexual relations as established by God,” should be rejected by the courts, the Churches said.

Bishop mourns Jamaica’s ‘culture of death’: The Church of England Newspaper, July 29, 2011 July 29, 2011

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Bishop Robert Thompson of Kingston

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Kingston has denounced the island’s “culture of death,” saying Jamaica was turning into a dystopia ruled by gang violence, corruption and greed.

Speaking at the funeral of 17-year old Khajeel Mais at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kingston on July 16, Bishop Robert Thompson said the young man’s death was symbolic of the nation’s woes. “Morality is eroded,” he told the congregation, and Jamaica had become a place “where life is disposed of in favour of the symbols” of prosperity.

“We live in a society that embraces a culture of death from which we must repent. It makes us numb to justice,” said the bishop.

On July 1 Mais, a passenger in a taxi, was shot to death by a man driving a BMW X5 after the taxi scratched the side of the luxury car.   A student at Kingston College, Mais was on his way to a school fete when the shooting took place.  He died shortly after being admitted to hospital.

Speaking to a packed cathedral congregation that included students from the college, family and friends, Bishop Thompson said Mais’ death was not only an abomination, but was a tipping point in the collapse of the social order.

“The expression of outrage by the public is causing a shift in our society,” the bishop said.

He urged Jamaicans to stand up to those who sought power or wealth through the barrel of a gun.

“They can kill, but cannot kill the soul,” he said.

Bishop Thompson added that silence in face of evil, made one complicit with evil, warning those who were part of the “conspiracy of silence” that surrounded criminals were as “much to blame as those who pulled the trigger.”

The only way forward, the bishop said, was to turn towards God.  Taking as his text the 10th chapter of Matthew, the bishop reminded the congregation that the one who stands firm in his faith to the end will be saved. “Let us face our fear of violence in our society with faith as Christians, when terror and death” surround us, Bishop Thompson said.

Windward Islands diocese ordains first women deacon: The Church of England Newspaper, June 17, 2011 p 9. June 19, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies, Women Priests.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Diocese of the Windward Islands in the West Indies has ordained its first women deacon.

On June 11, Eleanor Glasgow, Director of Lay Ministries of the Anglican Church in Grenada, was ordained to the diaconate at the St George Cathedral Church in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The 1997 Eames Monitoring Group report on the status of women clergy in the Anglican Communion, reported that while the Church of the Province of the West Indies had authorized women deacons and priests, two dioceses: Guyana and the Windward Island rejected the innovation.

In 2000 the Windward Island diocesan synod gave its assent to the ordination of women, but no female clergy were ordained until this past weekend.  The traditionally Anglo-Catholic Diocese of the Windward Islands is comprised of the islands of St. Lucia, Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines.  Guyana remains the sole West Indian diocese that does not permit women clergy.

Speaking to the Nation newspaper of Barbados, Deacon Glasgow stated “that by my answering the call and being accepted as a woman, that the door is now open for other women who believe they are so called to come forward,”

“Why should a woman be denied if she has been called?”, the new deacon asked.

Jamaica close to despair, bishop warns: The Church of England Newspaper, June 3, 2011 p 8. June 3, 2011

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Bishop Alfred Reid of Jamaica

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Jamaica has accused members of the island’s government of collusion with the criminal underworld.  Jamaica was close to despair, Dr. Alfred Reid said last week, with little to distinguish government from organized crime.

However, statistics released by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) showed that violent crime declined over the last year, for the first time since 1999.

“What is the state of our Jamaican society at this time?” Dr. Reid asked delegates attending the 141st diocesan synod in Falmouth.  The “lines” between the state and the “criminal underworld” had “blurred”, he said.

Jamaicans did not know “who to trust and who to fear, where an honest person must compete with extortionists of various types and where the underground economy is probably bigger than the official one.”

The unofficial economy was being “skillfully manipulated by a few” for their own benefit, “while another group called taxpayers are required to pay not only for all the social benefits they enjoy but also for the high cost of corruption,” the bishop said.

The climax of Jamaica’s crime wave appears to have crested last year, after the JCF supported by the army launched a military-style raid against criminal gangs in the Tivoli section of Kingston.  In a week’s fighting, 73 gunmen and police were killed, but the power of the gangs was broken in West Kingston.

A January press release from the JCF stated: “All major crimes (murders, shooting, rape, carnal abuse, robbery, break-ins, and larceny) declined in 2010, when compared to 2009, by an overall seven per cent. This is the first time since 1999 (eleven years) that the national crime statistics are showing a reduction in all major crimes.”

“Murder, which is considered to be the key crime indicator, decreased by 15 per cent in 2010 compared with 2009. There were 1428 reported murders in 2010 against 1682 in 2009, a decrease of 254 in 2010 compared with 2009,” the police reported, while murders in Tivoli fell by 42 per cent in the months after the police raid.

The police were too quick to congratulate themselves, Dr. Reid said.  Only one in five murders was solved in 2010, and although Jamaica was no longer the murder capital of the world, the 1428 murders reported in 2010 should be measured against the rate of 142 per year in 1971, when Jamaica’s crime rate was lower than that of the United States.

“Imagine congratulating ourselves on the dramatic reduction in crime while the incidence of vicious and violent crime is still way beyond the level any civilised country should tolerate,” Dr. Reid said.

“The dark demonic nature of these brutal and sub-human acts leave no one in the society free from deep anxiety and fear,” the bishop said.

Clergyman denies role in Trinidad coup attempt: The Church of England Newspaper, May 27, 2011 p 8. May 27, 2011

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Canon Knolly Clarke (center)

An Anglican priest has denied any responsibility for Trinidad’s abortive 1990 coup that left 24 dead.

In testimony before a government commission this month in Port-of-Spain, the Rev. Canon Knolly Clarke conceded that while he had denounced the government in a series of fiery sermons preached in the weeks before the coup, the July 27, 1990 uprising by the Islamist Black Power group Jamaat al Muslimeen had come as a complete surprise as his call for revolution had not been meant to be taken as a call to arms.

Dr. Clarke, a well known social activist and one time dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port of Spain, was in 1990 a leader of the Summit of the People’s Organisation (SOPO), an umbrella organization seeking an end to government corruption and economic injustice.  One of the members of the coalition was Jamaat al Muslimeen.

Lawyers for the government commission that has been investigating the 1990 coup, read portions of a speech given by Dr.  Clarke at a June 19, 1990 Labour Day rally.  SOPO “will call upon [Trinidad’s poor] on an appointed day and that they will speak with a clear voice,” he said, according to a transcript of the speech read to the commission by its attorney on May 5.

“Changing governments, democratically or otherwise, does not help people make decisions that will change their lives,” he said.  The masses “must take things into their own hands” and “power belongs to the people.”

Six weeks later 114 members of Jamaat al Muslimeen stormed Trinidad’s Parliament, the Red House, and the broadcasting studies of Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT).  Prime Minister Arthur Robinson was taken hostage, and at 6:00 pm on July 27, Abu Bakr appeared on television to announce the overthrow of the government.

The army and police quickly surrounded the Red House and TTT, and the acting president declared martial law.  The army took control of TTT’s transmitter that night, knocking the station off the air, and laid siege to the Red House.

Negotiations ensued and Dr.  Clarke was asked by the Islamist group to be its representative.  After six days of negotiation, the Muslimeen surrendered on August 1, and were taken into custody. They were tried for treason, but the Court of Appeal upheld the amnesty offered to secure their surrender, and they were released.

Testimony presented to the commission by Muslimeen members stated they believed SOPO would back their coup and bring the masses out in support.  However, Dr. Clarke said he “was not aware an armed revolution was on the cards. It came as a surprise.”

“SOPO could not mobilise popular support [for the coup] because we did not know about it. As far as I know no one talked about armed revolution.”

While he had been opposed to government economic and social policies at the time of the coup, this did not translate into support for violent revolution.  “I never saw ousting a government from the barrel of a gun,” he told the commission, according to press reports of the session.

Oldest Anglican priest to retire: The Church of England Newspaper, March 18, 2011 p 8. March 22, 2011

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The Rev. Edward Gatherer

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The oldest stipendiary priest in the Anglican Communion, the Rev. Edward Gatherer (89), will retire on March 27 after serving 55 years as the incumbent of St Andrew’s Parish Church in Barbados.

While the Church of the Province of the West Indies, like all other Anglican provinces, has a mandatory retirement age, Fr. Gatherer took the Diocese of Barbados to court when its bishop, Drexel Gomez—later to become Archbishop of the West Indies—attempted to force him to retire when he turned 65.

The case of Gomez v Gatherer eventually came before the Privy Council in London which in 1992 held the failure of a Church to follow its rules of procedure served as a bar to enforcement of acts not properly enacted.

The Gomez case centered round the issue of whether a church was required to conform to civil legal practices in issues not touching upon doctrine.  In 1969 the Church of England in Barbados was disestablished and the 1947 Anglican Church Act governing the clergy and church was rescinded. New regulations were made by the church, in its new capacity as a non-established religious body that provided for retirement of clergy upon reaching 65 years of age.

However, the church failed to publish the new regulations in the Official Gazette as was required by law.  The Privy Council held the Diocese of Barbados was not free to act outside the boundaries of civil law.

After a two year suspension, Fr. Gatherer was returned to St Andrew’s by the court and awarded $200,000 in damages.  He vowed to remain at St. Andrew’s until he had to be carried out dead.

Archbishop John Holder of Barbados announced last week that he had named Fr. Gatherer an honorary canon of St Michael’s Cathedral in Bridgetown “in appreciation of his 60 years of ministry in the diocese.”

“I think that he has made a contribution to the diocese and he takes his ministry and his priesthood very seriously,” the archbishop said.

While there are older priests at work in the Anglican Communion, the introduction of mandatory retirement rules has seen older active clergy take up honorary or non-stipendiary work.

A spokesman for the Church of England told The Church of England Newspaper that there were “about a dozen Church of England incumbents still in stipendiary ministry because they are not caught by the mandatory retirement legislation” and are still working past the age of 70.

“However, we can’t find anyone still in post older than Mr. Gatherer in Barbados,” the church spokesman noted.

Paul Avis to kick off JCMS anniversary celebration in Kingston: The Church of England Newspaper, March 18, 2011 March 18, 2011

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Dr. Paul Avis

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

A service marking the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Jamaica Church Missionary Society (JCMS) will be marked this week by a memorial service at Spanish Town Cathedral in Kingston.  The March 20 service will kick off a year-long series of programmes focusing on mission and ministry for the Church in the West Indies.

Canon Paul Avis, the general secretary of the Church of England’s Council for Christian Unity, and Archbishop Drexel Gomez, the former Archbishop of the West Indies will open the series, joining Jamaican church leaders next week in a symposium on mission in the Caribbean amidst a changing social order.

The chairman of the JCMS, Bishop Harold Daniel of Mandeville explained the meeting will look at new ways of being and doing church.   “You are not Church just by keeping church.”

The symposium, he said, was designed to change the mindset of the whole Church and re-awaken commitment to Christian service.  Archbishop Gomez will give the keynote address and will engage in a dialogue on what works in mission with four Jamaican church leaders: Roman Catholic Archbishop Donald Reece of Kingston, Dr. Marjorie Lewis, President of the United Theological College of the West Indies, Dr Garnett Roper, President of the Jamaica Theological Seminary, and the Rev. Kenute Francis of St John’s Church, Ocho Rios.

Canon Avis will offer his insights on mission and ecumenism, drawing upon his 2005 publication entitled, A Ministry Shaped by Mission, and his most recent book, Reshaping Ecumenical Theology.

Scouting a cure for the Caribbean’s social ills: The Church of England Newspaper, March 11, 2011 p 8. March 14, 2011

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Bishop Alfred Reid of Jamaica

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Scouting can turn around the moral and social decline of the West Indies, the Bishop of Jamaica said last week at a service marking the centenary of the Scout Association of Jamaica.

Jamaica and the West Indies had seen a sharp increase in gang and drugs related crime over the past twenty years and many young men had grown up without strong male role models or moral formation, the bishop said, adding that “young females, at this time, would appear to have more personal ambition than the boys.

Scouting had been proven to build character among boys and strengthened their families and the community and was “needed today more than (it was) 100 years ago,” the bishop said on Feb 27 at the Kingston Parish Church.

He called upon the scouts to take the lead in combating the allure of gangs among the island’s young men and commended the next hundred years of scouting saying, “I hope this centenary will signal the revival of a new and effective rescue mission for the young men of our nation.”

Founded in 1907 by Robert Baden Powell, the scout movement was introduced to Jamaica in 1910 by the Rev. Joseph Graham, and has long been associated with the Anglican Church in the Caribbean.

Marriage and Family celebrated in Britain and the West Indies: The Church of England Newspaper, Feb 25, 2011 March 2, 2011

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The West Indian Bishops at the 2009 consecration of the Bishop of Guyana

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishops of the Church of the Province of the West Indies have inaugurated a “Year of the Family,” calling upon Caribbean Christians to come out of sinful relationships and immoral practices and adopt an attitude that puts the family first.

Their call echoes statements made last week by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions seeking a recommitment to marriage in Britain.

In a statement marking the opening of the Family Year on the third Sunday of Epiphany, Jan 23, Archbishop John Holder of Barbados said that among the challenges “facing our families in the Caribbean” were the “care and support of the elderly,” the “care and guidance of our children,” and “channelling the energy of our youth along creative paths.”

In its social agenda, the Anglican Church has sought to foster the importance of the nuclear family, working to overcome common social patterns of absent fathers, grandmother-dominated households, short-lived common-law unions, and ‘child-shifting’, where children are sent to live with relatives because the parents have migrated or have begun a union with another spouse.

Youth work has also focused on providing alternate models for young boys, who often view family patterns such as matriarchal households, male absenteeism, and extramarital relationships as norms and continue them as adults.

Archbishop Holder stated “we can never over emphasise the critical role the family plays in stabilising and enriching society.”

“This is a role recognised by the Church and every member is being called upon to make a special contribution to this critical process,” he said, citing the work of the Mothers’ Union and other church organizations that were “strengthening our families” and supporting marriage.

Preserving and strengthening marriage was imperative in Britain also, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith, said last week.

In a speech delivered at the start of Marriage Week on Feb 8, Mr. Duncan Smith denounced elitist anti-marriage attitudes, and called upon the government to “ensure people have the opportunity to achieve their aspirations” and to marry.

“Today through our celebrity focused media we give awards to so many different groups, film stars, soap stars, pop stars and football stars,” he stated, “yet the most basic institution, which nurtures each generation and from which so many of us draw our strength and purpose, goes unnoticed and unrewarded.”

“The commitment of two people to put selfish interest to one side for the sake of each other and the children they raise is simply the very best of us as human beings,” the minister said, adding that marriage was the “best antidote to the celebrity obsessed culture we live in, for it is about understanding that our true value is lastingly expressed through the lives of others we commit to.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams stated “marriage nourishes our society and it’s only natural that couples should nourish themselves by making sure they have a proper helping of leisure time together.”

“We know there’s no greater communication than in breaking bread together and I hope Marriage Week will serve to remind those of us who are married that we should be making time to eat and talk and play together all year round,” Dr. Williams said.

West Indies adopts Anglican Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, Feb 11, 2011 p 7. February 15, 2011

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Archbishop John Holder of Barbados

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop John Holder of Barbados, reports his province has formally adopted the Anglican Covenant.

In a statement released via the Anglican Communion News Service during the Dublin primates meeting on Jan 30, Archbishop Holder stated his province saw the Covenant as a “workable document that can help the Anglican Communion to move forward while still addressing issues that face its member Churches.”

“For some, the document is only being seen in the light of sexuality issues. That’s a restrictive view. It is a document that can help us to function in relation to the many issues that will arise in the Communion. Today it’s human sexuality, tomorrow it will be something else.”

“Our understanding is that it is not an exclusive document; it does not exclude, but rather it helps to lead people to reflect on their role as Anglicans, and identify their responsibilities as members of the Communion,” the archbishop said.

The 2009 West Indian General Synod, under the presidency of former West Indian Archbishop Drexel Gomez endorsed the covenant.  The Church of England Newspaper reported last year that the Nov 16-20, 2010 joint meeting of the West Indian House of Bishops in Trinidad and provincial standing committee was expected to ratify the covenant on behalf of the province.

The province gave its formal notice of acceptance of the covenant to the ACC last month.

The Anglican Covenant was not “punitive,” he said.  “It invites the members of the Communion to follow a different way, to remember their responsibilities to other members of the wider community, to respect where others are in their journey.”

While some churches saw the covenant as a “threat to their independence”, the West Indian Church saw it as a mark of the communion’s interdependence, “as an enabler on the journey for communion,” Archbishop Holder said.

Drexel Gomez marks 50 years of ministry: The Church of England Newspaper, Feb 11, 2011 p 8. February 11, 2011

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Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The former Archbishop of the West Indies has celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.  Well wishers greeted Archbishop Drexel Gomez at the close of the special service on Feb 1 at Christ Church Cathedral in Nassau, thanking him for his services to the church in the Caribbean and to the wider Anglican Communion.

Born in Nassau, Archbishop Gomez was educated at Codrington College in Barbados and went on to become the principal of the theological college.  Elected Bishop of Barbados at the age of 36, he was subsequently translated to Nassau and elected Archbishop of the West Indies in 1999.

Archbishop Gomez played a central role in the Communion’s deliberations over the past twenty five years.  In addition to attending the 1978, 1988, 1998 and 2008 Lambeth Conferences, he served as chairman of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations (IASCER) and chairman of the Covenant Design Group, which produced The Anglican Covenant.

The archbishop also played a leading part in rallying conservative opposition to the innovations of doctrine and discipline taking place in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada.

Under his leadership the Province of the West Indies broke with the Episcopal Church and set in place a theological litmus test for Episcopal missionaries who wished to serve in the Caribbean.  Archbishop Gomez was also one of the chief consecrators of the Rt. Rev. Bill Atwood of the Ekklesia Society for service in the United States under the authority of the Church of Kenya.

However, the West Indian primate consistently championed the Anglican Covenant as the way forward for the Communion through its divisions, repeatedly telling audiences in the UK and US that the “Covenant was the only game in town.”

In his final appearance on the international Anglican stage at the 2009 ACC meeting, Archbishop Gomez urged the delegates to endorse the Covenant.  However, his advice was not taken and the covenant process was subsequently thrown into disarray when the meeting declined to endorse the full document.

‘Red mass’ marks end of legal links to London: The Church of England Newspaper, Feb 4, 2011 p 7. February 6, 2011

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Chief Justice Samuel Awich of Belize

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Belize marked the end of the appellate jurisdiction of the Privy Council in London over the courts of the West Indian nation last month at the annual ‘red mass’ for the judiciary and the country’s lawyers before the opening session of the Supreme Court.

The legal fraternity gathered at St John’s Anglican Cathedral on Jan 18 for a service led by the Rt. Rev. Philip Wright who urged the courts to continue to work with the church as being the twin guides of justice and “moral authority” for the nation.

“We have all heard the many mothers and families on the evening news and calling in on the talk shows, crying out for justice, ‘We want justice!’ And in the next breath they ask, ‘Where is the church?’,” the bishop said.

“I take no offense when they do this. God help us when they stop caring about what the church thinks, and when they find they have no alternative but to take justice into their own hands without recourse to the law.”

Bishop Wright went on to say that the church and the courts must work together, as “grave harm comes to society when these institutions fail.”

Following the ceremony, the legal fraternity processed from the cathedral to the law courts to hear speeches from government and judicial leaders.  Chief Justice Samuel Awich noted that this term would see appellate jurisdiction transferred from the Privy Council in London to the Caribbean Court of Justice in Port-of-Spain.  Holding on to the Privy Council was a “nostalgia for the past, rather than logic and good sense,” he said, adding that Belize had now received its “judicial independence” from its former colonial master.

Attorney General B.Q. Pitts told the assembly, “now we are the owners and responsible for our own justice system and its further and future development according to our needs and circumstances.”

The Privy Council had been out of touch, he said.  “An obvious example of this is the fact that a great number of Belizeans do not believe that punishments for crimes of violence reflects the general view in Belize,” but the Supreme Court had to follow the guideline of the Privy Council.

The Privy Council had effectively banned the imposition of the death penalty in the Caribbean, a move which had registered strong political protest—but received the backing of the region’s Anglican bishops.

However, the Caribbean’s judicial independence was not entirely voluntary.  The chief justice noted that in 2007 the Lord Chancellor in England “made it known to the Commonwealth Caribbean nations that appeals from the Caribbean took too much of the time of Privy Council judges, and without the Caribbean nations paying for it. One might say that Belize departed from the Privy Council before being forced to leave,” Justice Awich said.

Church call for sex education in primary schools: The Church of England Newspaper, Feb 4, 2011 February 4, 2011

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Bishop Calvin Bess of Trinidad (left) Archbishop John Holder of the West Indies (right)

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Anglican Church has joined in National Parent Teachers Association (NPTA) of Trinidad in calling for sex education classes for under-12s.

On Jan 20, the Rt. Rev. Calvin Bess, Bishop of Trinidad said the education minister’s statement last week to the island’s senate that seven primary schools students were compelled to suspend their schooling after they became pregnant was troubling.

Notwithstanding the moral issues at play of children having children, “this state of affairs” was “most regrettable as it will impact on those students’ academic career, and ultimately their future,” the bishop said.

The Anglican Church in the West Indies welcomed plans to combat teen pregnancy, “even if it means introducing some measure of sex education in the school system,” he said.

Trinidad & Tobago follows the British education system, with children enrolled in either state or church-affiliated primary schools from age 5 to 12, and in secondary schools until aged 16.  At the end of their primary school education, children sit for the Secondary Entrance Assessment exams, which govern where they will be educated for secondary school.  After completing secondary school, children sit for their CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) examinations, akin to the GCE O levels, and those with high scores may continue in school for two further years and sit for their A level exams.  The free and compulsory education system has given the island one of the highest literacy rates in the world, exceeding 98 per cent.

The president of Trinidad’s NPTA, Zena Ramatali, last week urged the government to introduce Health and Family Life education programmes as “young people are being bombarded with sexual encounters and teenage pregnancy at an early age.”

However, Bishop Bess said the church believed it was important to have the right programmes in place.  A poorly designed curriculum could “produce opposite effects than those which were intended,” prompting children to experiment with sex.

Young people “need to understand that their body is something sacred and that it was a gift from God, so it must be carefully looked after and not abused,” the bishop said.

Guyana massacre remembered: The Church of England Newspaper, Dec 17, 2010 p 8. December 17, 2010

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The victims of the Bartica massacre. Photo from the LiveinGuyana blog

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

An obelisk commemorating the victims of the Bartica massacre was dedicated this week by church and state leaders in Guyana.

The “Monument of Hope” dedicated by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and the Rt. Rev. Cornell Moss, the Bishop of Guyana, commemorates the 12 people murdered by gunmen who attacked the mining community on the Essequibo River.

On the night of Feb 17, 2008, approximately 20 bandits landed by boat at the town wharf.  Five laborers loading a cargo ship were ordered to lie down, and then shot in the back of the head by the gang, which then moved on to the Bartica police station.  The three constables on duty were killed and the gang proceeded to empty the station armory.  A security guard and three other bystanders were also killed when the bandits shot up the town as they made their way back to the river.

The assault on Bartica prompted a nationwide outcry against the crime epidemic plaguing the South American nation, and has prompted government efforts to reform the police.  Prime Minister Samuel Hinds told the audience gathered for the ceremony the government was committed to “beefing-up support” for the police, and since the attack, “we, as a country, were severely tested, but have survived.”

The 13-foot black marble memorial was given to the town by the Canadian mining company, Guyana Goldfields Inc., on land donated by the diocese across from St. John the Baptist Church along the river’s edge.

In his address, Bishop Moss said he prayed that the monument would be a symbol of hope and promise for the community.   “Never again should what happened in Bartica occur anywhere again in Guyana, and it is our hope that this is true,” the bishop said.

West Indian bishops to take up the Covenant this week: The Church of England Newspaper, Nov 19, 2010 p 8 November 21, 2010

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Archbishop John Holder of Barbados during the 2008 Lambeth Conference

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The House of Bishops and Standing Committee of the Church of the Province of the West Indies are set to meet this week in Trinidad.  The provincial leaders are scheduled to confirm the election of Canon Claude Berkley as Bishop-Coadjutor of Trinidad, and are expected to discuss local and pan-Anglican questions, including the Anglican Covenant.

The Nov 16 to 20 meeting at St Agnes’ Church in St James, Trinidad, will be the first joint meeting joint meeting of the standing committee and house of bishops for the new West Indian primate, Archbishop John Holder of Barbados.  Seventeen of the provinces 24 active and retired bishops are expected to attend the meeting.

Dr. Holder has pushed for a conciliatory tone in the province’s relations with the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada, and has taken a softer line with the North American churches than his predecessor, Archbishop Drexel Gomez of Nassau and the Bahamas.

Under Archbishop Gomez’ leadership, the province declared a state of impaired fellowship with the Episcopal Church, forbad American bishops from participating in consecrations in the province, and required missionaries to endorse a theological code that foreswore the innovations of doctrine and discipline practiced by the US and Canadian churches.

Speaking in New York in May, Dr. Holder said “one of the valuable contributions we can make in the Caribbean, in our Province is to be bridge-builder.”

The West Indies did not agree with the Episcopal Church’s support of gay bishops and blessings, and Dr. Holder said he was not “at the stage where I can say that I support that (gay) lifestyle to the extent that I will bless or encourage or whatever persons involved in that as prominent leaders” of the church.

However, he parted company with the leaders of the Anglican Churches of Africa in believing that the two sides should continue talking.  “I think part of the problem in this world and the church especially, is that we are running out of time to do certain things,” he told members of St Mark’s Episcopal Church in Brooklyn.

“We all want things to be done within our lifetime or within our time of being in charge. I don’t think that way. I think if there is a problem, if there is a challenge we have to work on it. And it will take longer than my lifetime,” Dr. Holder said.

The West Indian bishops are expected to endorse the Anglican Covenant at their Trinidad meeting.  In his May presentation, Dr. Holder said he supported the covenant “100 per cent because I think it is the type of bridge we need to hold the factions together that they can begin to speak to each other in a creative and positive way.”

Double murder shocks West Indian Anglicans: The Church of England Newspaper, Nov 5, 2010 p 7. November 13, 2010

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Richard and Maria Stuart

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Crime and the moral decay of society in the Caribbean were among the topics of discussion last week at meetings of the diocesan synods of the Bahamas and Belize.

On Oct 14, a member of the Church of the Province of the West Indies Standing Committee and Registrar of the Diocese of Belize, Mr. Richard Stuart and his wife, Maria, were murdered.  The two had returned to their home in Belize City following a dinner of the Bar Association and were surprised by two intruders who were waiting for the couple on the first floor of their home.

Neighbors heard screams from the walled villa and alerted the police, who arrived shortly before midnight to find the couple dead, each with over 25 stab wounds.  Searching through the house, the police found a babysitter hiding in a closet with the couples’ 8-year old son on the second floor.  Their three other children, aged six months to six years, slept through the attack.

A Guatemalan man, who had once worked for Mr. Stuart as a servant, was stopped by police while driving the dead man’s car, late that night.  The servant had been dismissed by Mr. Stuart last month for stealing.  Police are seeking a second killer, who remains at large.

Bishop Phillip Wright of Belize told Channel 5 News that after he learned of the murder he immediately went to the house to offer his support.  The Stuart’s murder has “impacted us tremendously,” he said, and the deceased was a “friend” whom “I had grown to respect.

Mr. Stuart’s murder was all the more immediate, as it was his duty to sit next to Bishop Wright as registrar of the diocese during their annual synod meeting, which was scheduled to start on Oct 16.

Bishop Howard Gregory of Montego Bay, Jamaica stated he learned of the Stuart’s death when he arrived in Belize to attend the synod, and had been scheduled to stay at their home.  “This bright and promising young attorney who was involved in church, national life and politics, along with his wife, an accomplished forensic auditor, and who were in their early forties were brutally murdered in their home late at night as they arrived home from a function,” he said.

While Belize and the wider West Indian Anglican family were shocked by this murder, and were demanding that justice be done, hanging the killers was not the answer, the bishop said, in an editorial published in the Jamaica Observer.

“As tragic as this situation is, I still believe that all crimes are to be punished, but that capital punishment is not the answer. And in some ways, while satisfying the desire for revenge in many, will never constitute justice for others,” he said.

Bishop Gregory also noted there was also a growing culture of entitlement coupled with a moral decay that led to crimes like the Stuart murders.  “It is becoming clear that many of the crimes, apart from those that are obviously connected with the drug trade, are being carried out by persons who have access to people’s households and their employer’s sphere of work and living. They are persons who have enjoyed a certain level of trust, access and privileges which go with the same. There is clearly a breakdown of social relationships and values taking place in our society when the first thing that enters the minds of some employees is to find ways to steal from the till or remove property.”

He argued that such things “spring from materialism, which is overtaking our people and some of whom are now prepared to secure such benefits by any means available. It is also possible to argue that there is a serious deficit in the level of preparation of our young people for the world of work. In this regard, we may be focusing on the skills necessary for entry into the workplace but not the values and attitudes which should attend the same,” Bishop Gregory said.

Whatever the cause, the Stuart murders were “not a Belizean problem but a Caribbean one” the bishop said, and if “we do not move beyond debate, this social monster is only going to get worse.”

In his Oct 20 address to the 110th session of the Bahamian Synod, Bishop Laish Boyd told his diocese that recapturing a responsible work ethic and thrift were imperatives for the Caribbean.

“There are many good workers in The Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands, but there are too many slackers, who act as if they are doing their employer and their job a favor by turning up. There are too many workers who want something for nothing. There are too many workers who start off with a negative attitude towards their employer and their job, forgetting that it is a privilege to have a job even if it may not be paying what you want it to,” the bishop said.

Bishop Boyd also urged Anglicans to cut back on spending and save for the future.  While the world economy was now in recession, “a rainier day than this one just might be coming,” he said.

Family breakdown is the root cause of violent crime, West Indian churchmen tell govt: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 8, 2010 p 7. October 13, 2010

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2010 Independence Day ceremony in St Kitts Cathedral

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Absent fathers and the breakdown of the family are the greatest threats to society in the West Indies and the root causes of crime, the leaders of the government of St. Kitts and Nevis were told at an Independence Day ceremony last week.

In an ecumenical ceremony marking the 27th anniversary of independence of the West Indian nation held at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Basseterre, the Rev. Christopher Archibald from the Anglican Church of St Kitts told the Governor General, the Prime Minister and cabinet, members of the opposition, judiciary and chiefs of the police and army, that the government’s legislative agenda for the coming session of parliament, “Strengthening families for positive nation building” was a worthy goal.

The family was under attack in St Kitts and Nevis, and across the Caribbean, Fr. Archibald told the assembled worthies on Sept 30.  “We are experiencing serious threats to our family and family life and unity by both internal and external forces.”

He singled out North American culture with its emphasis on individualism and materialism, which had led to an increase in gang related activities, sexual promiscuity, drug abuse, crime, violence, truancy, delinquency and indiscipline.

Crime has been the principal political issue across the Caribbean in recent years, with nations from Trinidad to the Bahamas experiencing a sharp rise in gang and drug related criminal activity.  Speaking to the 25th annual Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police conference in May, Jamaica’s Deputy Police Commissioner Jevene Benet stated that “a climate of disorder is like a fertile ground” for violent crimes.

Commissioner Benet stated that while Jamaica witnessed 1,680 homicides in 2009, the country’s annual murder rate did not break 100 until the early 1970s.  “The argument is that such a rise in the number of homicides was aided and abetted by a rise in the climate of disorder, a climate in which little misdemeanors, small infractions that went unchecked, permitted bigger infractions,” she said.

In 2008 St Kitts, with a population of 46,000 saw 23 homicides and its first hanging in ten years.  On Dec 9, 2008 Charles Elroy Laplace was hanged for murdering his wife.

Over the last decade, Jamaica consistently has had one of the highest homicide rates in the Caribbean, but this year, the Virgin Islands’ killings per capita are on-track to outpace Jamaica’s homicide rate.

Dr. Olaf Hendricks, a psychiatrist who works with violent criminals in the Virgin Islands—which has a homicide rate of 84 per 100,000 compared to Jamaica’s 60 per 100,000, warned the Caribbean police conference that dysfunctional households were “hatcheries of murderers and rapists.”

Dr. Hendricks said that low intelligence, mental instability and substance abuse were common among violent criminals.  “Once a child is born with something like fetal alcohol syndrome, you’ve got a lifelong struggle on your hands,” he said. “Once a child comes out of a mother’s body and hears bad words and starts recoiling and gets a bad touch, we’re too late.”

In his Independence Day sermon, Fr. Archibald said the “breakdown in family values” led to a “a moral decline in society and a less peaceful country.”

“Realise that once the family has been eroded, then everything else that is good in our society is likely to decline as well,” he said.

Barbados cathedral plea: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 3, 2010 p 7. September 10, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Diocese of Barbados has launched a fundraising drive to raise £2.5 million to repair the Cathedral of St Michael and All Angels in Bridgetown.

Termites have eaten away at the floors, pews and kneelers, the windows are falling out, and the walls are in need of major repair, the diocesan newspaper reported in 2008, and unless £500,000 could be found immediately, St. Michael’s “could eventually be abandoned as Bridgetown ruin.”

To restore the coral stone cathedral to its former glory £2.5 million will need to be raised, the chairman of the board of Diocesan Trustees, Hartley Richards told the cathedral congregation on Aug 29.

The congregation learned that the first stage in restoring the cathedral would start in September, with the repair of the chancel roof, gutters and downpipes and the masonry eaves.  This will be followed by the repair of the cathedral’s windows and doors, followed by a complete revamping of the electrical system.

The second stage would see the repair of the Cathedral cemetery, whose graves include many of the island’s colonial governors and former prime ministers.

The diocese had taken over the task of restoring the Cathedral, Mr. Hartley said, and would seek financial help from across the diocese as well as from the Barbadian Diaspora in the UK and US.

Bowleg quits: The Church of England Newspaper, June 4, 2010 p 6. June 15, 2010

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The Ven Etienne Bowleg

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The priest behind the court challenge to the Church of the West Indies mandatory retirement canon has quit the Diocese of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands to form an independent church.

Last week the Bishop of the Bahamas, the Rt Rev Laish Boyd announced the Ven Etienne Bowleg had renounced his orders. The Bahamas Press newspaper also reported that an investigation has now also been launched into allegations that Archdeacon Bowleg embezzled funds from his parish, Holy Trinity Church in Nassau.

On March 3 the Bahamian Supreme Court discharged an injunction that had prevented Bishop Boyd from removing 72-year-old archdeacon from Holy Trinity’s helm and dismissed the archdeacon’s appeal.

In his petition Archdeacon Bowleg argued the failure of the diocese to gazette, or give formal legal notice by publishing the canons in a journal of legal record, of the changes to its canons providing for mandatory retirement, rendered it void.

A similar case had been brought against the Diocese of Barbados by the Rev Edward Gatherer who argued that when the Church of England was disestablished in 1969, the reorganised diocese failed to gazette its new retirement canons making them void.

The case of Gomez v Gatherer eventually came before the Ecclesiastical Committee of the Privy Council which in 1992 held the diocese had failed to follow its rules of procedure and was barred from enforcing canons not properly enacted. Fr Gatherer, now 87, currently remains in office as priest in charge of St Andrew’s parish in Barbados.

In the Bowleg case, the Supreme Court held that under the terms of the Deed of Institution as rector of Holy Trinity, Bowleg “served at the pleasure of the bishop” and could be dismissed “at will.”

In his letter to the Bahamian clergy, Bishop Boyd stated that Etienne Bowleg wishes “to renounce all allegiance as a priest of the Diocese of the Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands within the Province of the West Indies, with immediate effect.”

“This means that by his choice, intent and assertion Fr Etienne Bowleg no longer holds a licence to function in this Diocese. As clergy of the Diocese all of you need to be aware of how serious this matter is and what its implications are.

“The lack of a General Licence means that Fr Bowleg is not allowed to function (officiate, celebrate, preach, vest, process, sit in the chancel or sit in the sanctuary) at any service or event of the Diocese or the Province, or under the auspices of the Diocese or the Province,” the bishop said.

Martial law in Kingston: The Church of England Newspaper, May 28, 2010 p 6. June 6, 2010

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The Rt Rev & Hon Alfred Reid, Bishop of Jamaica

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Jamaica has descended into lawlessness and moral anarchy, the Bishop of Jamaica, Dr. Alfred Reid told his diocesan synod last month, with social distress greater today than during the “worse days of slavery.”

Jamaica has had a “long history of violence and terrorism beginning with the holocaust of chattel slavery and the limbo existence of colonialism,” Dr. Reid said on April 30,  but “never before has people’s social distress been as extreme as it is now.

“Poverty, sickness, criminality and social chaos have reached unheard of proportions,” the bishop said, and has left people without hope.

“Even at the worse of time, the slaves lived in hope of a new day and they endured with the conviction that even if they themselves did not live to see that new day, their children would,” the bishops said, but the “present generation” has “surrendered to a terrible fatalism that does not envisage any other scenario and feel that we will always be at the mercy of merciless might.”

The bishop’s warning comes amidst a breakdown of law and order in Kingston.  On May 23 the government declared a state of emergency in two west Kingston parishes after gunmen supporting alleged narcotics kingpin Christopher Coke firebombed a police station and exchanged gun fire with police.

Barricades were erected in Hannah Town and Tivoli Gardens in West Kingston by gunmen loyal to Coke, as smoke from burning cars rose above the city’s slums.  Police withdrew from the torched police station and took up defensive positions in four other stations that were sprayed with bullets from roaming bands of gunmen carrying assault weapons.

Police Commissioner Owen Ellington said “scores of criminals” from gangs across Jamaica had traveled to West Kingston to join the fight. “It is now clear that criminal elements are determined to launch coordinated attacks on the security forces,” he told a press conference over the weekend.

Coke has been indicted on drugs trafficking charges in New York, but Prime Minister Bruce Golding has refused extradition requests for the past nine months.  However, in the wake of intense pressure from Washington, Mr. Golding relented, and authorized the extradition of Coke last week—sparking the riots.

In a national address broadcast on May 23, Mr. Golding said martial law had been declared in West Kingston, allowing the army to search and detain suspects without warrants.  The city “is not being shut down,” he said, and schools and businesses outside the two parishes remained open.

Labeled one of the world’s major crime figures by the US Justice Department, Coke has close ties with the governing Jamaica Labour Party, and has had de facto control over West Kingston—an area represented in parliament by Mr. Golding.

Bishop Reid told synod that Jamaica was being “held hostage by hoodlums.”  The “myth of Robin Hood cannot redeem the ugly and nasty reality of crooks being held up to our children as benefactors and heroes.”

“If these are the models of aspiration and the ideal of success that we present to the next generation, then we have de-futurized our children and our country,” he said, noting that it was “pure hypocrisy and a cruel deception to say that these people rob the rich to support the poor.”

Those “affected by extortion and violent exploitation are the hard working Jamaicans seeking to overcome poverty by dint of industry and effort, and the “so called” beneficiaries are still poor and, in fact, made more pauperized and dependent on a few heartless, soulless brutes who buy out their freedom, their dignity, their minds and souls for a mess of pottage,” Dr. Reid said.

The real agents of change, those “who are the real hope for national development and wealth creation are being ruthlessly destroyed” by criminals, while the government has been made “irrelevant” and “real power is ceded to criminals. The situation is compounded when officials, businessmen and ordinary citizens meekly or willingly accept that the only way to do business is to get involved in bribery and corruption.”

In the midst of this chaos it was the Christian’s responsibility to rekindle hope and by showing that through Christ “a victim mentality, a horrible psychology of hopelessness and helplessness” can be overcome.

“We must be prepared to be the voice of the voiceless and the public face of those who are invisible,” Dr Reid declared.

Bishop calls for gambling ban in the Bahamas: The Church of England Newspaper, May 28, 2010 p 6. June 5, 2010

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The Rt. Rev. Laish Boyd, Bishop of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of the Bahamas has denounced government plans to legalize gambling for its subjects.  On May 12, the Rt. Rev. Laish Boyd, Bishop of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands said a national lottery or ‘numbers’ game would be an “opening of the floodgates” that would swamp the morals and values of Bahamians.

While casino gambling has long been permitted for tourists in the West Indian nation, locals are forbidden to gamble.  In April, a government committee led by Tourism Minister Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace said it was considering a proposal to soften the ban on gambling for Bahamians and has explored instituting a government-run ‘numbers’ game open to Bahamians to increase state revenues.

However, church leaders have urged the government not to put short term revenue gains ahead of morality.  Gambling “promotes values that are harmful to the moral fiber of our communities,” Bishop Boyd said last week, adding that it would be a mistake to legalize gambling “at a time when there are so many negative influences on the society, and when our community is suffering from a lack of values.”

“In matters of this kind the government has the constitutional and moral responsibility to protect the value base of the country,” the bishop wrote in a pastoral letter to the islands’ Anglicans.

Bishop Boyd said the numbers game was an especially pernicious vice.  It encourages avarice and laziness, and served as a disincentive to thrift, hard work and a positive work ethic.

Many of its habitués “become obsessed with finding the right number and wait anxiously to see which number will fall. It becomes a consuming force, often dictating every other area of that person’s life. Most Christian moralists agree that the real danger in gambling lies exactly in this kind of excess,” he said.

Those who can “ill afford to be often the biggest users, abusers, and losers,” Boyd said. “It forms a false and unreliable foundation upon which to base one’s personal finances. It encourages what seems to be a short cut approach to financial security rather than through the principles of Christian or other forms of stewardship.”

The lottery was a negation of Christian teaching in stewardship.  “Life cannot be simply about chance where so many people lose and only a few win. This is what the numbers game typifies. We need to be promoting culture and activities that are based on planning and productivity, purpose and positive advancement. Stewardship calls us to acknowledge what we have, and to build on it constructively and incrementally to accomplish higher goals,” he wrote.

Legalized gambling “would be a bad move for the moral fabric of our society and far more devastating in its long-term effects than any monetary or taxation advantage that can be gained in the short-term,” the bishop said.

Gambling industry leaders denounced the bishop’s pastoral letter saying the church was being hypocritical.  Sidney Strachan of the pressure group the Bahamas Gaming Reform (BGR), told the Nassau Guardian that when the church needed money it “did not turn to tithes and offerings, instead they lifted a many years long moratorium and resorted to gambling” by allowing raffles.

He argued the ban on Bahamians gambling was discriminatory.  “The Anglican Church is now asking the government to deny Bahamians the same basic rights afforded the church and foreigners: To participate in and operate games of chance,” Mr. Strachan said.

A government spokesman said Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham would likely announce his views on this issue sometime this week.

Church retirement rules upheld in the Bahamas, The Church of England Newspaper, March 7, 2010 March 24, 2010

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Senior Justice Jon Isaac

First published in The Church of England Newspaper

The Bahamian Supreme Court has rejected a petition to throw out the mandatory retirement canons of the Diocese of the Bahamas.

On March 3 Senior Justice Jon Isaac (pictured) discharged the injunction that had prevented Bishop Laish Boyd from removing 72-year old Archdeacon Etienne Bowleg from office as rector of Holy Trinity Church in Nassau, and dismissed the archdeacon’s appeal.

In his petition Archdeacon Bowleg argued the failure of the diocese to gazette, or give formal legal notice by publishing the canons in a journal of legal record, of the changes to its canons providing for mandatory retirement, rendered it void.

A similar case had been brought against the Diocese of Barbados by the Rev. Edward Gatherer, rector of St Andrew’s parish, who argued that when the Church of England was disestablished in 1969, the reorganized diocese failed to gazette its new retirement canons making them void.

The case of Gomez v Gatherer eventually came before the Ecclesiastical Committee of the Privy Council which held in 1992 the diocese had failed to follow its rules of procedure and was barred from enforcing canons not properly enacted. Fr. Gatherer, now 87 years of age, currently remains in office as priest in charge of St Andrews.

In last week’s case, Justice Isaac dismissed the archdeacon’s appeal without proceeding to the merits of his case after the diocese submitted a copy of the Deed of Institution naming Archdeacon Bowleg as rector of Holy Trinity which stated he “served at the pleasure of the bishop.”

As an ‘at will’ employee of the bishop, Archdeacon Bowleg had no standing to contest his dismissal, the court found, declining to address the constitutionality of the diocesan canons.

Bishop Boyd told the Nassau Guardian he was pleased with the ruling, while retired Archbishop Drexel Gomez said he too was pleased the issue had been “resolved for the sake of the church and for general order.”

Church retirement rules go under Court scrutiny: CEN 3.05.10 p 8. March 16, 2010

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Archdeacon Etienne Bowleg of Nassau

The Bahamian Supreme Court will hear a challenge this week to the Anglican Church’s canons governing the retirement of clergy.

On March 3 the court will hear the petition of Archdeacon Etienne Bowleg, rector of Holy Trinity Church in Nassau, who is fighting Bishop Laish Boyd’s order that he step down upon reaching the mandatory age of retirement of 70.

This will be the second go round before the courts in the Bowleg affair, as the archdeacon had previously sought to have eight years subtracted from his age, claiming his birth certificate was in error. The archdeacon’s new claim is that the diocese’s failure to properly gazette, or publish the canon, renders it void.

The archdeacon’s claim is being given close consideration by the Bahamian courts, as a similar case in the Diocese of Barbados went to the Privy Council in London, which found in favor of a clergyman who was able to show the publication of the diocese’s canons had not been legally perfected.

In 2007 Archbishop Drexel Gomez informed Archdeacon Bowleg that as he was 70 years of age, he would have to step down at the end of the year. Under Bahamian canon law, clergy must retire at the age of 65, but may with the permission of bishop remain in office until the age of 70.

Archdeacon Bowleg responded that he was born on Dec 18, 1945, but when his birth was recorded it was registered with the wrong date: Dec 18, 1937. The mistake was only discovered when he moved to Nassau to live with his father. In 1962 he stated his parents signed an affidavit stating the year of his birth was 1945, but he had subsequently lost the affidavit.

The court granted an ex parte order to the archdeacon changing the date of his birth, but following the protests of the diocese which produced a baptismal certificate and the intervention of the attorney general, the order subtracting eight years from his birth certificate was rescinded.

In an affidavit sworn on Aug 20, 2008 Acting Registrar General Shane Miller stated the archdeacon’s birth had been recorded by his mother as Dec 18, 1937. A further search of the records revealed that a daughter had been born to the archdeacon’s mother on May 28, 1945 in Ragged Island. “It should be noted that this birth was seven months prior to the alleged birth of [Bowleg] on Dec 18, 1945,” Miller stated.

However, in light of his second cause of action, the Supreme Court has granted Archdeacon Bowleg an injunction, preventing his ouster pending the March hearing. The canons governing mandatory retirement were not properly advertised, the archdeacon has argued, and should be of no legal effect.

When he was Bishop of Barbados, Archbishop Gomez was party to a similar case. In Gomez v Gatherer, the Privy Council held that the failure of a Church to follow its rules of procedure served as a bar to enforcement of acts not properly enacted.

In 1969 the Anglican Church in Barbados was disestablished and the 1947 Anglican Church Act rescinded. New regulations were made by the church providing for retirement of clergy, but the church failed to publish the new regulations in the Official Gazette as was required by law.

The rector of St Andrew’s Church, the Rev. Edward Gatherer upon reaching retirement age was asked to stand down by Bishop Gomez. He declined and the case was brought to trial, and on appeal the Privy Council in 1992 held no obligation to retire was created because the regulations had not been properly published.

In affidavit filed with the Court in Nassau, Archbishop Gomez said he was disappointed that Archdeacon Bowleg was now seeking to impugn the diocesan constitution, when he had supported their adoption, and had acted on the premise that they were binding upon him and required his retirement at the age of 70.

EU appeal for Antigua: CEN 2.19.10 p 7. March 1, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies.
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Church leaders in the West Indies have asked the European Union (EU) for financial assistance in restoring St. John’s Cathedral in Antigua, which was closed in December after having been declared unsafe by surveyors.

With the support of Antiguan Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, the cathedral chapter has requested a grant in aid of €3.3 million (£2.9 million) to repair the 161-year old cathedral church of the Diocese of Northeastern Caribbean and Aruba.

In December, a teacher from the Antigua Girl’s High School fell through the floor of the church during a rehearsal for the school’s annual Christmas carol service. An inspection by engineers found the ground under the cathedral had shifted. They also discovered structural damage caused by a 1974 earthquake had rendered the cathedral unsafe.

The cathedral chapter has applied for ‘heritage’ status for the building, in order to qualify for EU funding. The funds will be used to repair the floor, the pews and ceiling; “all of those things that need attention will be given attention so that we can get back into our beloved cathedral as quickly as possible,” chapter member Valerie Hodge said.

Bishop’s charge to Bahamas parliament: CEN 2.12.10 p 6. February 19, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies, Politics.
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The Bishop of the Bahamas has urged members of the Caribbean nation’s’ parliament to put their trust in the Lord, rather than in the works of men, as they are responsible to both God and the electorate in carrying out the just functions of government.

Speaking at the annual parliamentary church service held at St. George’s Anglican Church in Nassau, the Rt. Rev. Laish Boyd told the Prime Minister, cabinet and members of the House of Assembly the “power” of their offices lay outside themselves, and ultimately rested in God.

“It is outside of yourselves because you represent the people of this jurisdiction and there is a God who created you, who will sustain you and who helps you,” Bishop Boyd said.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” the bishop said, citing Proverbs 3:5-6. “Do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”

“We are called to trust in God to hold onto what we cannot yet see or what has not yet materialized because in our human state we cannot see or know everything. There are some things we must hold by belief, conviction or trust,” said Bishop Boyd.

Organized by the Bahamas Christian Council, the annual service brings the government in contact with the leaders of the islands’ religious communities.

In reviewing the government’s legislative agenda, the Rev. Patrick Paul, President of the Bahamas Christian Council, stated that “crime and particularly violent crime, against persons and property continues to rise and we must find ways to work together and bring this to an abatement,” the Bahamas press service reported.

Capital punishment for murder has been reinstated by the Bahamian government. However, the Anglican Church in the West Indies has voiced strong opposition to the restoration of capital punishment. In his Oct 21 synod address, Bishop Boyd said hanging was “not a deterrent to crime.”

“The disregard for human life and a perverted value system which allows a person to maim or to kill another in a dispute, are realities that capital punishment cannot ever address, even though a hanging may satisfy the desire for retribution,” he said.

West Indies ditches Hymns Ancient & Modern for Reggae: CEN 1.29.10 p 8. February 9, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies, Hymnody/Liturgy.
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The West Indies will discontinue Hymns Ancient and Modern as the official hymnal of the Anglican Church in the Caribbean.

The Archbishop of the West Indies, Dr. John Holder of Barbados said the province was retiring Hymns Ancient and Modern in favor of a locally produced hymnal that was incorporated regional music including reggae. However, he said a number of traditional hymns would be incorporated in the new edition.

Since the release of the first edition in 1861, an estimated 165 million copies of Hymns Ancient and Modern have been sold. With the decision to discontinue its use by the West Indies, Hong Kong remains the only province of the Anglican Communion to use the 1922 standard edition. In 1980 a new hymnal Common Praise, was released by its publishers for use by the Church of England to replace the 1983 new standard edition of the hymnal.

In 2007 the province released a draft hymnal with works by Bob Marley’s “One Love” and a reggae version of Psalm 27 composed by Peter Tosh.

West Indian congregations had been having unofficially using reggae, calypso and mento (a precursor of ska and reggae popular in the 1950’s) music for over 25 years. The compilers of the new hymnal were careful to use “correct theology” in its selection of popular local music, Canon Ernle Gordon of Kingston told the Jamaica Observer, making “certain that the words relate to the Bible and to our own Anglican interpretation of it.”

Antigua cathedral is closed down: CEN 1.15.10 p 8. January 15, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Cathedral of St John the Divine in Antigua has been shuttered by the Diocese of North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba for repairs. Last month portions of the floor collapsed while school children were touring the 161-year-old cathedral. One teacher was injured when the flagstones gave way.

Antigua Cathedral shut for repairs

An engineering survey found the building to be unsafe, and an appeal has been launched to restore the landmark structure.

Originally built in 1681 on a hill in the centre of the island’s capital, St John’s, the first cathedral, was destroyed by an earthquake in 1745. The cathedral was rebuilt, but destroyed a second time by earthquake in 1843. The third incarnation of St John the Divine was built in 1845 in the neo-Baroque style and has withstood hurricanes and earthquakes due to its unique construction — the interior of the building is encased in pitch pine to support the stonework and keep it watertight.

While the exterior of the building remains in good repair, settling of the ground under the cathedral has led to its current crisis, clergy in Antigua tell The Church of England Newspaper.

New Primate elected in the West Indies: CEN 12.18.09 p 5 December 22, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Barbados, Dr John Holder has been elected Primate of the Church of the Province of the West Indies.

New Primate elected in West Indies

Meeting at the Georgetown’s Convention Hall in Guyana, on Dec 10 the provincial synod elected Dr Holder to succeed Archbishop Drexel Gomez as primate and archbishop of the church in the English-language nations of the Caribbean, Belize and Guyana. Details of the vote tally have not been released, but the new archbishop bested the Bishop of Jamaica in the final round of voting.

“It is an honour to be elected. It’s a challenging task, but I am sure I would do my very best to carry on the good work of my predecessors,” Dr Holder told representatives of the Barbadian press after his election.

Educated at Codrington College in Barbados, Dr Holder was ordained a deacon in 1974 and priest in 1975 for the Diocese of the Windward Islands at St George’s Cathedral in St Vincent. He served two years as curate of the cathedral before returning to Codrington College to serve as a tutor in Biblical Studies. He earned degrees from the University of the West Indies and the University of the South in the United States, and in 1981 began doctoral studies at Kings College, London, earning a PhD in 1985.

Upon his return to Barbados, he rejoined the staff of Codrington College as Lecturer in Old Testament Studies while also serving as priest in charge of a several parishes on the island. In 2000 he was elected 13th Bishop of Barbados.

Married with one son, Dr Holder faces a challenging environment as archbishop. Crime and social issues have been primary topics of concern in recent years in the West Indies, and the church has been at the forefront of moves to strengthen the family and social structures on the islands. It has also taken the lead in opposing the reinstitution of the death penalty in the West Indies — reintroduced by several countries in response to the drugs-fuelled crime wave of the past decade.

The new archbishop is expected to continue the domestic and international policies of his predecessor, Archbishop Drexel Gomez, who like Dr Holder served as a tutor at Codrington College and as Bishop of Barbados.

West Indies prepares to elect a new Primate: CEN 12.10.09 December 10, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

The Church of the Province of the West Indies will elect a new primate today to succeed Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the Bahamas at a meeting of its provincial synod in Georgetown, Guyana.

The Rt Rev Errol Brooks, Bishop of North East Caribbean and Aruba, has served as acting primate since Archbishop Gomez’ retirement at the end of 2008. The province has been unable to elect a primate due to the episcopal vacancy in the diocese of Guyana.

West Indies prepares to elect a new Primate

On Feb 12 delegates to a special meeting of the Guyana synod held in Queenstown were unable to elect a bishop to succeed Bishop Randolph George, who retired after 29 years as bishop. The failed Guyana election has also postponed the selection of a new archbishop for the province as the canons require a full House of Bishops to select the new primate.

Diocesan chancellor Desiree Bernard wrote to the House of Bishops asking that they appoint a bishop, a course open to the diocese under the provincial canons in the event of a failed election. On Aug 27 the bishops elected the Ven Cornell Moss, Archdeacon of the Northern Bahamas as bishop, and on Dec 8 he was consecrated at St George’s Cathedral in Georgetown, and the election for a new primate has been scheduled for Dec 10.

Three bishops are standing for election as primate, Dr John Holder of Barbados, Dr Alfred Reid of Jamaica, and Bishop Brooks. While all three have been strong opponents of the developments in the North American church over issues of human sexuality, the candidates differ in their approach to addressing the issue, with Dr Reid supporting a more conciliatory approach, while Bishop Brooks has followed Archbishop Gomez in distancing the province from the Episcopal Church.

Bishop says no to capital punishment: CEN 10.30.09 p 8. November 5, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies, Crime.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

 

The Bishop of the Bahamas has denounced government plans to restore capital punishment. In his charge to the diocese’s 109th synod gathered at Christ Church Cathedral in Nassau, Bishop Laish Boyd told delegates that hanging was “not a deterrent to crime.”

“The disregard for human life and a perverted value system which allows a person to maim or to kill another in a dispute, are realities that capital punishment cannot ever address, even though a hanging may satisfy the desire for retribution,” he said on Oct 21.

Bishop attacks plans to restore capital punishment

On Dec 19, 2008 St Kitts and Nevis hanged Charles Laplance for the 2006 murder of his wife — the first execution in the West Indies since the execution for murder of David Mitchell in the Bahamas in 2000.

Following Mitchell’s hanging there was a de facto ban on capital punishment in the English-speaking Caribbean in the wake of a 2000 ruling by the Privy Council, which lengthened the appeals process for those convicted of capital crimes to approximately five years. The five-year process effectively ended executions, as a separate law banned excessively long imprisonments for prisoners on death row.

Political pressures upon the Caribbean governments to respond to the sharp rise in crime has led to a restoration of capital punishment. In November 2008, the Jamaican parliament rejected a ban on capital punishment, with the Trinidad parliament following suit in February. The Bahamas legislature is currently debating restoring capital punishment. As of Sept 18, 2009 the West Indian nation recorded 59 homicides, Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest reported last week.

“The real issue is the fragmentation of relationship and of family life as we know it,” Bishop Boyd said, as “too many children are being born to parents who are unable to socialize and care for them properly. What we need is for parents to be parents and to raise children to honor and respect God and humanity. We have strayed far from this in some quarters and we need to get back to it.”

At their Nov 2008 meeting, the House of Bishops of the Church of the Province of the West Indies called for an end to capital punishment. “Mindful of our Blessed Lord’s repudiation of ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’ and, that in our prayer, study, reflection and experience, the death penalty has not been proved to be a deterrent,” the bishops called on “our people to stand with us in our opposition to the death penalty.”

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