The St. Andrew Parishioner

Vol. 14 No. 3, May 2005

Reclaiming our Mission: to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ ...

In this Issue ...

St. Andrew Home For Girls
Focus On The Rector
340th Anniversary
Jamaica Church Missionary Society (JCMS)
Church Calendar

St. Andrew Home For Girls - Helping the Young

The month of May turns the spotlight on one of our major outreach projects, the St. Andrew Parish Church Home for Girls. The month of observance started with Corporate Communion on Sunday, May 1 and includes several activities such as the start of construction of a new classroom block funded by the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica. This will include a library and a computer room. Books and computers are welcome. Also included are a talk by noted consultant psychiatrist, Dr. Aggrey Irons, a Fun Day at Hope Gardens sponsored by Food for the Poor and a Labour Day Activity which will include landscaping of the grounds. The Management Committee is working to confirm a number of other activities, including a visit to Serenity Park.

The St. Andrew Parish Church Home for Girls has been creating a safe haven for young girls since it came into being in1974, at which time the Rector was the Rev. (later Bishop) Herman Spence. Situated at 16 Ellesmere Road in Half Way Tree, the home was built as a joint effort of the Rotary Club of St. Andrew and the St. Andrew Parish Church. Today, the home caters for some 21 girls between the ages of eight and eighteen. Maintaining the high standards which have been the hallmark of the home continues to demand constant fund raising, says Sonya Hamilton, Chairman of the Management Committee. Quite apart from providing accommodation for the girls, the home also tries to turn out well-rounded citizens who have grounding in the Christian faith.

"We have some very firm objectives, and we do everything in our power to meet these objectives," Miss Hamilton notes. "We are committed to ensuring that each girl receives a satisfactory standard of education in community-based schools. We also ensure that the girls get adequate nutrition, and that we inculcate proper hygiene and health standards. Further, we make sure that they receive the love, discipline and understanding which one would find in a loving home, and that they have a sense of security."

Miss Hamilton further notes that the exposure which each girl receives in the Home and in the community is conducive to an acceptable level of social development. Ultimately, she adds, the girls must be prepared vocationally and socially so that when they are ready to leave the home at age 18, they can take their place as responsible citizens. Miss Hamilton has noted the need for volunteers to act as mentors for the girls.

Other members of the Management Committee are: Joyce Brown, Grace Duncan, Shirley Lee, Sister Doris Levien, Valerie Magnus, Robert McCook, Gay Mitchell, Owen Streete, Louise Wilson, Merton Wright, Bobby Young.

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Focus On The Rector

Doctoral programme

The Rector completed his doctoral programme - D. Min. - at Episcopal Divinity School in 2004. The topic of his Thesis was: Redemption Song: Theological hermeneutics for social transformation in Jamaica. He recently attended the graduation exercises held at EDS in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Elected Suffragan Bishop of Kingston

Rev. Canon Robert Thompson was elected Suffragan Bishop of Kingston at the Synod of the Church in Jamaica in the Province of the West Indies on Wednesday, March 30, 2005. There were several statements in support of his nomination and that presented by our Synod Representatives is reproduced below.

His Consecration as Bishop took place on May 31, 2005 at the Kingston Parish Church at 10:00 a.m. His elevation to the position of Bishop means that St. Andrew Parish Church will be seeking a new Rector.

Statement in support of the nomination of Rev. Canon Dr. Robert McLean Thompson as Bishop of Kingston

Rev. Canon Dr. Robert Thompson is the 20th Rector of the 340 year old St. Andrew Parish Church. His incumbency began in 1990 and our church is proud to support the nomination of Canon Thompson as the next Bishop of Kingston.

St. Andrew Parish Church - established in 1664 - has a membership on roll of some 3,000 persons 1,500 of whom are active. The attendance at each of the four services on any Sunday establishes the reality of four congregations. The composition of the membership brings together persons from all walks of life, with varied educational backgrounds and includes many who are leaders in the public and private sectors. The sick and shut-in list numbers about 130 persons. The 1,000 niche columbarium - constructed in 1999 and in popular use church has a number of valuable properties, including the 8 _ acre cemetery, which through the incorporated lay body, are the responsibility of the rector and wardens. The stewardship required of a rector at this parish church is therefore a major challenge and unenviable responsibility. His administrative skills, businesslike approach and commitment to strategic planning have guided the management process over the past fifteen years.

The earliest of our outreach projects was started over fifty years ago and, following the tradition of his predecessors, Fr. Robert has continued the work done through these programmes for the less fortunate and, based on a community need he established, more recently, the challenging but vital St. Andrew Care Centre for street boys. That our church is able to sustain five major outreach projects is a tribute to his dynamic leadership and ability to secure the necessary funds and support. His commitment to mission is also evident in the revival of St. Clement's Mission, Kencot and the upgrading of St. Thomas, Majesty Gardens.

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Robert McLean Thompson
Bishop of Kingston

Photo Credit - Billy Perkins

A graduate of the United Theological College, Canon Thompson continued his education at McGill University gaining a masters degree in 1979. Over the past two years he pursued and completed a doctoral programme at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge. In his doctoral thesis - "Redemption song: Theological hermeneutics for social transformation in Jamaica" he examined issues relating to the social transformation of marginalized persons. He presents recommendations for appropriate methods of interpretative reading of the bible recognizing that the church in Jamaica needs a new paradigm to be able to play a greater role in the social transformation of the society. Already, he has commenced sowing the seeds of this new approach in the depressed area of Majesty Gardens in western Kingston. Outside of formal study he has maintained his own continuing education and continually engages his mind both in the publications of modern theologians and bold Christian writers as well as the current expositions of social and political thinkers.

He has served on various boards including inter alia those of Kingston College and the Queens' School. He is a member of the Provincial Synod and represents the western hemisphere on the Anglican Consultative Council where his own wise counsel and advice have been considered invaluable. This awesome responsibility, which he takes in his stride, allows him to meet and interact with bishops and clergy at the highest level of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The ecumenical roots developed at the United Theological College continues in his work with the Half Way Tree Ministers Fellowship for which he has served a term as chairman.
Canon Robert Thompson is firstly a committed Christian possessing unusual strength of character and a fine mind. He is hardworking, strong-willed, stubborn, sensitive and astute. He is also a very private and reserved person. He is restless and impatient. The impatience, however, is nurtured out of an inborn search for perfection. This has much to do with his vision and forward thinking and the desire to implement his ideas and achieve agreed goals on 'fast forward'. His restlessness is based on the fact that he sees so much to be accomplished within the context of limited time and resources. … and can he beg! His ability to solicit funds in cash or kind quickly confuses the giver into looking forward to the commitment. He is equally swift to express appreciation.

He is a man of strong convictions who does not suffer fools gladly and combines this with being outspoken. This does not undermine his ability to laugh, to ask for the latest cricket score or to have fun - he needs no excuse to hit the dance floor. He commands respect and respects others. His compassion is touching and is demonstrated particularly in his relationship with bereaved persons. His care, counsel and homilies are encouraging as family members make the difficult adjustment to life without their loved ones.

Many of you present, who are also rectors, have served at St. Andrew's as curates, deacons, deaconesses or students and have experienced the challenges of service in this Parish Church. Under Fr. Robert's stewardship you have experienced the nurturing and training which have assisted you greatly in your ministerial journey.

Canon Thompson is well known within the Half Way Tree community and can be seen either walking in Ambrook Lane or on occasion attempting to diffuse the energy of angry demonstrators. He shares the grief and tragedies of residents in the community whether or not they are members of the church.

His family relationships are secure and strong. His wife Charmaine and sons Matthew and Joseph are supportive and caring. Clergy families are constantly challenged by the demands made on the time and energy of the clergy person and this is no less applicable to Robert Thompson. We are certain that the love and support of his family and friends will be even more enduring in the days ahead.

Based on the foregoing - if elected - he will bring to the office of Bishop:

  • 31 years experience in teaching and proclaiming the gospel (spiritual maturity and wisdom),
  • intellectual and analytical skills of a servant leader shaped by prayer and study,
  • faith which ensures action which is both correct and creative,
  • discipline and authority coming out of intimate knowledge and application of the Anglican tradition and the canons of the church,
  • pastoral and spiritual leadership based on a servant's heart which nurtures and sustains,
  • an exemplary lifestyle in living out God's word,
  • a personal commitment to serving the need for peace and justice; healing and reconciliation,
  • compassion for the outcast and marginalized and an appreciation of each person's worth.

The Church Committee, the staff and the congregation of St. Andrew Parish Church offer Canon Robert Thompson our support and prayers while cognizant of the change which this election could make to our church and the challenge to identify a successor. We commend his nomination recalling the statement made by the late Rt. Rev. Herman Spence in announcing Fr. Robert's selection as Rector in 1989. [and I quote] "I promise you - you are not only going to like him. You are going to love him!' He has provided us with dedicated service and spiritual leadership and we love him - the Diocese and the Kingston region in particular will experience the goal-oriented and people-oriented attributes of this great servant leader and are going to love him.

Presented at the Synod of the Church in Jamaica, March 30, 2005

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Sermon preached by Rev. Canon Robert Thompson on Sunday, May 15, 2005. Feast of Pentecost

Today is Pentecost when we meet to commemorate and celebrate the fulfillment of Jesus' promise of the Spirit, recorded in John's Gospel. You will recall Jesus' prayer for the disciples and for all Christians. "Holy Father, protect by the power of thy name those whom thou hast given me that they may be one, as we are one." Such oneness is critical to the effective witness of the Church. Such oneness is critical if the world is to take the Gospel seriously. But what may we ask is the nature of that unity in an age where every voice is seeking to be heard? In a world where authority can no longer be demanded as a birth right, but as emerging out of dialogue with others. How in such a world does one promote unity? - A unity that does not seek to control but listens to all voices? These are the questions I would like us to address as they lay at the root of much of our conflict in the world and I dear say within the church and congregational life.

Before we turn to the story of Pentecost in Acts I would like to draw your attention to the biblical story of Babel. In that story recorded in Genesis chapter 11 the people concluded that their long desire for bringing the nation together and for the building of a tower could be easily achieved if everyone spoke a single language. However, fulfilling that desire was oppositional in intent and controlling in outcome. Yahweh would never agree to anything that would promote unity by exclusion and control.

"So the Lord said, 'If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, ( to build a tower that reaches to the heavens) then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." ( Gen. 11, 5-7) Difficult text. Why would God say such a thing? What is wrong with wanting to achieve the impossible? Is not this the very thing we encourage our children to do? Is God envious of Man, and so decides to confuse his language in a manner that would make it impossible for man to collaborate against God? God is by no means 'red eyed'. God does not need to protect his name. What he however wishes to insist upon is that in our collective quest to achieve greatness no one is excluded. And that is precisely what the people would finally achieve by trying to homogenize the world in their quest for a single language. MTV, Microsoft and McDonalds are just a few agents of the global market forces that today are trying to tie the world together in one homogenous whole, and the churches regrettably are following suit. …………….

How are people expressing themselves within the society today? What are they saying? It is of utmost importance that the Christian community find adequate ways of addressing these questions. Ways that do not undermine the tradition of the Gospel while at the same time affirming the diversity of experiences and cultures. Only then will we succeed in finding genuine unity within the body of Christ and the society as a whole. When we read the remaining verses of 1st Corinthians chapter 12 we hear Paul saying to us:

"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. ….So the eye cannot say to the hand I don't need you! And the head cannot say to the feet I don't need you! On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor."

Pentecost debunks the idea that our congregations, our community and world can find unity only in sameness. Let us look for a moment at the context of Judea at the time of Jesus' death. Two elements, with opposing agendas were at work. There was the expanding colonial rule of Rome. Under the cultural mind set that supported the state Rome offered what in the language of our economists today is the McWorld culture. All peoples are to be united under one rule, one culture, and one market. Over against that is the struggle of the people of Israel to be a free people. Hence, there were those who struggled to reassert their identity, their national and ethnic culture, in the name of their blood and of belonging.

The mission of the Christian people everywhere is to witness to the multi-voiced richness of the gospel story as they dialogically listen to other voices about God's tapestry of love. At our 340th commemorative service in December last year we reaffirmed our mission to "restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ." But how do we begin to do the work of uniting everyone to Christ and each other without violating the unique gift of everyone? I believe the experience of Pentecost can teach us to how we can begin to do that.

Unity according to the Pentecostal model
First of all, unity according to the Pentecostal model will not be legislated or imposed from above. It will be incarnational and will therefore emerge from within. It affirms the gifts that each brings. Unity that is informed by the incarnate Christ points to the basic fact that community is sustained and supported by relationships of mutuality. It acknowledges that everyone is inseparably interwoven. Everything about the life of Christ, from his birth to his death on the cross pointed to the fact that the way to reconciliation and peace is through a life of vulnerability. This is what the Babel model of uniting the world could not and still does not accept.
The outgoing General Sectary of the WCC Konrad Raiser commenting of the response of the United State's response to 9/11 wrote the following:
"There is no way to peace with justice through protective security, but only by turning the basic human fact of dependency and vulnerability into a source of energy for strengthening sustainable relationships within and between communities and with all creation."

This idea of course runs counter to our world of politics and economics. Our vocation in the world is not shaped by our politics but by the one who broke the cycle of sin and death by becoming vulnerable on the cross. We must still believe that the possibility of reconciling our world with each other and with God remains a possibility.

Secondly, unity according to the Pentecostal model is the work of the Spirit not the work of individuals. The people building the tower of Babel insisted on the people speaking one language because that was the only way they knew how to create unity among the people. That is to say by setting up boundaries and controlling the lives of others. The Pentecost story is about an experience of the Spirit of God descending on men and women, permeating their lives through and through, soul and body, bringing them to a new community and fellowship with one another. In this experience people feel that they have been filled with new energies which they had never imagined to exist, and find the courage for a new lifestyle. We step out of our solitariness and our need to control into life together. Our fears of one another and our aggressions towards one another simply become ludicrous, because through God's abundant grace there is always enough for every one.

Finally, unity according to the Pentecostal model is dialogical. Unity cannot be achieved if all we seek to do is convince others of the truth they just won't get into their thick heads. We may succeed however if we start by loving them.

A dialogical witness to unity through the Christ is a love affair, ready to participate in the life of others, ready to make oneself vulnerable in love even as Christ himself did. This is what I understand from Jesus' words when he said to his disciples; "I am the way, the truth and the life." Many Christians understand this to mean something exclusive. That by accepting the truth about Jesus one must reject all other truths. As Mahatma Gandhi was once quoted as saying, the truth about Jesus embraces all other truths. In other words he saw the truth of the Christian gospel as inclusive of all other truths. We need to be reminded time and time again that the mandate of Christ to go into the world and make disciples needs to be interpreted only within the basic framework of the great commandment to love one another as Christ loves all. When we begin to see God's mission in light of that love then we will resist any idea of making all one by excluding some.

Let me conclude with a plea. It is a plea for our own unity as a congregation. I must pray that as you each work for that unity in Christ you bear in mind the three points which I believe the Pentecostal story affirms. And at the core of that experience the affirmation is that the presence of the Spirit is inseparable from the different manifestations of the gifts given to all of us. I want to emphasize that because there has been a tendency among some of us to want every one to be the same - a kind of colonialization of Christian identity. The Pentecost narrative in our reading from Acts draws together two terms: "one" and "diverse." The word within the biblical tradition need not mean numerical oneness but rather points to a unity that is shared in a way that is unfragmented. It is the kind of unity in diversity that the Anglican Communion is struggling to maintain at this time. Some people argue that it is not possible to maintain a so called unity in diversity, and will therefore exclude from any form of dialogue that embraces difference. In a world where increasingly people of varying interests are finding voice, ways will have to be found to affirm those voices while at the same time holding them in relationship with each other.

That my dear friends is our challenge.

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340th Anniversary

The Floral and Choral Festival held April 16-18 was a wonderful experience. Ten Churches presented Floral artistry throughout the Church and the Floral Festival was opened by Mrs. Gloria Reid, wife of the Diocesan Bishop. Six Choirs sang at the Choral Festival - which was standing room only - and it was a feast of superb music. The weekend was hugely successful and will be remembered for a long time to come.

The next event will the 340th Anniversary banquet on a date to be rescheduled. Tickets are available at $5,000 each and the proceeds will go towards support of a student at the United Theological College.

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Jamaica Church Missionary Society (JCMS)

The Jamaica Church Missionary Society is the recognized agency of the Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands in the CPWI. The Society focuses on spreading the Gospel of Salvation with special reference to human needs. All registered communicant members of the Anglican Church are members of the Society. The JCMS operates within and through the existing organizational structures of the Diocese. The Society derives its income mainly from voluntary contributions of its members - the various congregations. The Canons of the Church require every clergyman to appoint a Missionary Sunday each year at which time. On this occasion a collection may be taken for the purposes of the Society. Missionary Sunday will be celebrated on June 26, 2005 at St. Andrew Parish Church.

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Church Calendar

Alpha April 13 - June 22
SAPC Home for Girls (Focus) May
Consecration of Rector May 31
Moreton Park (Focus) September
Confirmation Classes begin (Adult) September 14
Confirmation Classes begin (Junior) September 16
St. Andrew Care Centre (Focus) October
Harvest Thanksgiving October 23
Annual Business Retreat November 5
Annual Supper November 18
St. Andrew's Day November 30
Patronal Festival December 4
Gift Day December 20
Christmas Day December 25

----Published by the St. Andrew Parish Church, Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands----

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Page last updated: June 26, 2005
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