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

Posted by geoconger in Bermuda, Church of England Newspaper.
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Dr. Patrick White

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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