The St. Andrew Parishioner

Vol. 14 No. 4, December 2005


2005 - An historic year ends ...
340th Anniversary celebrations ...
20th Rector becomes Bishop of Kingston ...
21st Rector appointed.

In this Issue ...

Rector Designate
Bishop Thompson Leaves St. Andrew's
Farewell To The Rector
Sunday School Activities
Services For Christmas 2005
340th Anniversary
From the People's Warden
To Walk On Earth Like Gods

Rector Designate

Rev. Major Dr. Sirrano Kitson has been appointed the 21st rector of St. Andrew Parish church effective January 1, 2006. He is an old boy of Kingston College and says "he is a simple Christian person from Allman Town" where he was born and raised. He was baptized at Arnold Road Methodist Church in June 1956. He was confirmed at St. Matthew's Church around 1966.

He says he is humbled by the call to serve as the 21st rector of St. Andrew Parish Church to which he is no stranger, having served as Curate in the early 1980's. He recognizes it is God's call for him to be engaged in this area of Parish ministry. He pursued his D. Min programme at Columbia Theology Seminary in Decatur, Atlanta and graduated in May 2002. The title of his thesis was "Biblical and pastoral hermeneutics' related to the role of the pastor for the care of persons with HIV/AIDS". He had been involved with the Jamaica AIDS support and Hospice which influenced the research for the doctoral programme. He believes that process helped to prepare him to make the transition from his current area of ministry - military chaplaincy - to parish ministry.

He along with his wife Denise and their three children - Matthew, Timothy and Rachel are looking forward to joining the St. Andrew's family. Similarly the St. Andrew Parish Church looks forward to welcoming the incoming Rector and wishes for him and his family every blessing.

[Based on an interview with Elsie E Aarons]

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Bishop Thompson Leaves St. Andrew's


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

Photo Credit - Billy Perkins

Rt. Rev. Dr. Robert Thompson, the twentieth Rector of St. Andrew Parish Church, was consecrated and ordained Bishop on May 31, 2005. He was installed as Bishop of Kingston at the Cathedral of St. Jago de la Vega. Bishop Thompson leaves St. Andrew's on September 29, 2005. He demitted the position of Rector of St. Andrew Parish Church on September 30, 2005. His last sermon as Rector of this Parish is reproduced below.

Sermon Text: Matthew 21: 28-32

One is always left with an awesome feeling when the name St. Andrew Parish Church is mentioned, and for good reason. The rich heritage in architecture, art, liturgy and Anglican tradition leaves no doubt in the minds of those entrusted with its care that we must do so by guarding it with a jealous hand. There are two mistaken assumptions that people generally make about St. Andrew's. The first is that it is a rich people's church and secondly, that those who worship here Sunday after Sunday, are so protective of what we hold dear that we remain cold and stiff. My family and I - as well as countless others who visit and decide to stay - have found the opposite. The fascinating thing about this great Parish Church is that in spite of its size, in spite of the fact that it is the largest Anglican congregation in the Province of the West Indies, one is able to experience in this house of God an enriching life of Christian fellowship. There is a feeling of family for everyone who desires to be part of it. My predecessor, the late Bishop Spence laid the foundation that made this possible. Perhaps his greatest legacy was the way in which he made ordinary Jamaicans feel that not only did they have a place in the pew, but in sharing in the leadership of the church.

One of the challenges I had in preparing this sermon was deciding on what to focus on. Should I attempt a reflection on my ministry, my regret in not completing some of the programmes and projects dear to me? But I will do none of that as I constantly try to remind myself, that once we are about God's mission, and not our own, God has already made provision for their completion. As one great preacher once said: "If what we are about doing is of any importance, if it is to have any lasting effect, then it is a job we can never complete." The task of each generation is not to complete the job, but as the book of Proverbs puts it "to ensure that there is something for our children to inherit." My hope and prayer as I take my leave from you, is that you will muster enough faith and interest in continuing the work of our ancestors and to make the necessary sacrifices to ensure that your witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be effective and strong.

This leads me to say a brief word about what I have come to appreciate about the spirit that drives St. Andrew's. Every congregation has its own spirituality built up over years. And though no one expression of that spirituality at any given time ought to be canonised, we nevertheless must remain sensitive to what that spirituality is. It is the thing that identifies the place. It is what gives it its life and energy.

St. Andrew Parish represents what in Anglicanism is called the Via Media, the middle way. It represents the best of our evangelical tradition on the one hand and our Catholic tradition on the other. I found something quite interesting in the answers given to the question: "What qualities you most desired in a new rector? At the top of the list was spirituality and somewhere towards the bottom was Anglican tradition. That in itself is a contradiction - a contradiction born out of a mistaken view, which sees tradition as something belonging to the past. (One of the great strengths of Judaism is its very healthy view of history. History is not something that belongs to the archives. Rather it is viewed as something one lives into …. ). Tradition in its original meaning, describes an action and a process, and so may best be understood not as a noun but as an adjective describing the process of "handing down". It is in this sense that Anglicans understand the word tradition, as the "handing over" of the story of God's presence and love in Christ. Tradition therefore is a living and developing heritage out of which we experience and celebrate the Good News of the Gospel. And we believe that in the process of sharing this Good News, both the "evangelists and the evangelised" are transformed by a fresh appreciation of the Gospel. It does not reflect a desire to sell or dominate; it arises from love and compassion on the part of those who have found something wonderful and want others to share in its joy. It is, as the old adage has it, like one beggar telling another where to find bread. It is precisely for this reason why we have chosen over the years to express our evangelism through our missionary outreach.

Far too many Christians, including Anglicans, have at best only a superficial appreciation and understanding of their faith. Any renewed emphasis on Evangelism then, will naturally invite us to ask: What is it about the Gospel that is good news? What is it about Christianity that would make others want to come to faith in Jesus? To ask such questions has the potential of opening new areas of reflection about our own faith journey, and hopefully lead to the evangelisation of our own members.

We come now to our Gospel and the story of the two brothers. Someone once said, that if there had been an inquest into Jesus' death; this parable would probably have been presented as one of the things that got him killed. According to Matthew, Jesus told it during the last week of his life in Jerusalem. As he returned to the temple the chief priests and elders cornered him. The main thing they wanted to know was who had given him authority to do the things he was doing? Instead of answering them, he did something that was very typical of him. He asked them a question: "What do you think?" and then he told the story. Jesus was never one to give people answers they themselves could come up with. He knew truth is something people have to discover for themselves, so he went the extra mile in helping us do that. The story he told that day was the story of the two brothers. When the father asked each of the sons to go work in the vineyard, the first said he would not go but later changed his mind, and the second while graciously agreeing to work later fails to fulfill his commitments. Which brother, Jesus asked his critics, did the will of his father?

It was an easy answer, as easy for them as it is for us. The first is obedient, while the second isn't. It was not what either son did that mattered in the end, but what they didn't do. But that was not what got Jesus in trouble with the authorities. It was when he told them which brother they were. They were the yes men, he told them, who said all the right things, believed all the right things, stood for all the right things, but who would not do the things God asked them to do. On the other hand the tax collectors and prostitutes may not on the surface look much like God's people, especially when compared to the pious religious authorities. The difference lies not in their appearances, but in their respective responses to the message of John. The tax collectors and prostitutes believed the message of John, while the religious authorities were resistant.

They were resistant to the message of John and Jesus because they thought they were right. They had become so attached to their own ideas about what is right that it had become difficult for them to accept correction. First John the Baptist and then Jesus suggested that they trade in their beliefs for a fresh experience of God, but they could not do that. People they despised were going into the kingdom ahead of them, possibly because these people were far more in tune with their vulnerable side.

This parable is not just about hypocrisy, which has always been the number one charge leveled against religious people - that we say one thing and do another. It goes deeper than that. It speaks to the unconscious way many of us substitute our beliefs about God for our obedience to God, as if it were enough to say, "I go sir" without even exercising a muscle to get out of the chair. A great part of the struggle many persons are having today has to do with the tension …. the experience between a desire to be autonomous, to do my own thing, and a kind of fearful conformity to some religious activity which they can hardly find time to understand. I believe it is something of that unresolved tension that existed in the mind of the second son, and in the lives of many of our young people today. This makes them want to say; "yes sir I will go", but who in the end refuse to go. Many of us have had that experience. One of the great joys of a mature religious experience is to come to that point of realizing that doing God's will doesn't have to be resisted. But the question is how do we get there? How did the first son get to the point of first refusing to go, but later changing his mind?

The story of Abraham, the great model of faith, gives us a clue as to how we might live with such a tension and find joy and freedom in an obedient response to the love of God. I will make reference to two passages from Genesis. The first is from Genesis chapter 18:22-32 where Abraham stubbornly and boldly stands up to God and instructs him in the way of justice. "Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it?" Abraham holds his own with God. In chapter 22: 1-14, however this same Abraham, who earlier was shown to be abrasive is presented as a model of submissive faith, prepared to give up even his only beloved son at the command of God. We would not have expected in chapter 18 that Abraham would be prepared for such obedience. And yet it is precisely the kind of courage demonstrated by Abraham in chapter 18 that makes possible his radical obedience in chapter 22. I would suggest that when you find some time you may want to read these passages in juxtaposition to see if you find any parallel between the story of Abraham and the action of the first son in our parable.

The point I want to make is simply this that faith and obedience come by way of resistance and submission. By way of what Walter Brueggemann refer to as protest and praise.

We thank your very supportive and caring family. Your wife Charmaine and sons Mathew and Joseph never allowed the constant challenges and demands made on your time and energy to be an issue in your family relationships which are so secure and strong.

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Farewell To The Rector From Dr. Vin Lawrence - Rector's Warden

Bishop Thompson, you came to us with a reputation of being loved by your previous congregation - St. Jude's, and we soon found out why. As the congregation said six (6) months ago when you were being elected Bishop, you are a committed Christian with unusual strength of character and a fine mind. You have worked very hard here with us at St. Andrew's - you have been sensitive, astute and a man with vision and a forward thinker. Your administrative skills, businesslike approach and commitment to strategic planning have guided the management process at this Parish Church over the past sixteen years.

You have not only sustained extensive outreach activities but through your dynamic leadership has established the challenging but vital St. Andrew Care Centre for Street Boys. Your commitment to mission has resulted in further outreach to the Ambrook Lane Community, the upgrading of the St. Thomas Mission at Majesty Gardens and the revival of the St. Clement's mission at Kencot.

As you yourself has stated; you have baptized our children, prepared hundreds for confirmation, witnessed the marriage of many and journeyed with us as we grieve through our "nights of sorrow". You have ministered to the sick, the bereaved with your own special gift of love, care and compassion. As you leave us, on behalf of this Congregation and as your Warden for the entire period of your service to and leadership of this Congregation, we want to say:

  • Thanks for the spiritual maturity and wisdom you have displayed in teaching and proclaiming the Gospel;

  • Thanks for the personal commitment you have to serving and being the exemplary servant leader with the display of intellectual and analytical skills shaped by prayer and study;

  • Thanks for the Pastoral and Spiritual Leadership which your servant's heart has nurtured and sustained;

  • Thanks for the faith you possess and engendered in us;

  • Thanks for the discipline and authority you so clearly displayed underpinned by your intimate knowledge and application of the Anglican Tradition and Canons of the Church;

  • Thanks for the compassion and appreciation of each person's worth similar to that of your predecessor the late Bishop Herman Spence;

  • Thanks for the exemplary lifestyle example you have set for us in living out God's Word.

We thank your very supportive and caring family. Your wife Charmaine and sons Mathew and Joseph never allowed the constant challenges and demands made on your time and energy to be an issue in your family relationships which are so secure and strong.

We rejoice with you, as our entire Diocese through its Synod has given due recognition to your skills, talents and commitment and have therefore called you the Shepherd to provide wider and higher service, as the Diocese launches on its process of Transformation and Restructuring the Mission. Thank you and GOD BE WITH YOU.

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Sunday School Activities

Sunday School Day was held on Sunday, May 22, 2005 at the 9:45am Family Eucharist. New teachers - Miss Joelle Gayle, Miss Noelle Gayle and Miss Janice Thomas - were commissioned by Rev'd. Fr. Robert McLean.. Prize giving was held on the previous Sunday as part of the Sunday School Month celebrations. Certificates were presented for Attendance, Participation and Helpfulness and prizes for the Boy and Girl of each class and for outstanding participation and helpfulness. The Rector's Trophies for Sunday School Boy and Girl of the Year were presented. The trophy for the Girl of the Year 2004-2005, was shared by Moyen Campbell and Marie Claire Willis and the Boy of the Year went to Brad Hamilton.

The winner of the Eric Morrison Shield for outstanding performance in the Sunday School, for 2004-2005 was the Bible Quiz Team trained by Miss Fay Duncan. They placed 3rd in the Kingston and St. Andrew Sunday School Area Council Bible Quiz in February 2005. The team consisted of Captain - Jason Ewer, Vice-Captain - Moyen Campbell, and team members Douglas Evelyn, Anthony Williams and Oliver McRae.

340th Anniversary

One of the highlights of the celebrations was the Gala Banquet which took place at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on October 6, 2005. The Rt. Rev. Riah Abu El Assal Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem was the Guest Speaker. He also gave a Public Lecture on Tuesday, October 4, 2005 at the Parish Church on the topic - Arab Christians: an endangered species. While in Jamaica his schedule included a visit to the North Coast and interviews with media personalities. He met with clergy of the Diocese as well as staff and students of the United Theological College of the West Indies.
On Sunday, December 4, 2005 the year of celebrations came to a triumphant ending with a Service of Thanksgiving with the Lord Bishop as the Chief Celebrant. The Bishop chose as his text Genesis 28: verses 16 and 17. This was the same text used by the first rector at a service on January 16th 1686 when the foundation stone of the new church building was laid.

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Services For Christmas 2005

December 18

  • 6:00 p.m. - Service of Lessons and Carols

December 24, Christmas Eve

  • 11:00 p.m. - Carols
  • 11:30 p.m. - Blessing of the Christmas Manger
  • 11:45 p.m. - First Mass of Christmas begins with Solemn Procession

December 25, Christmas Day

  • 7:00 a.m. - Sung Eucharist and Sermon
  • 9:00 a.m. - Holy Eucharist and Sermon
  • 11:30 a.m. - Service for Shut-ins
  • 6:00 p.m. - Holy Eucharist

December 26, St. Stephen's Day

  • 9:00 a.m. - Holy Eucharist

December 27, St. John the Evangelist

  • 9:00 a.m. - Holy Eucharist

December 28, The Holy Innocents

  • 6:30 a.m. - Holy Eucharist

December 30

  • 9:00 a.m. - Holy Eucharist

December 31, New Year's Eve

  • 11:00 p.m. - Holy Eucharist and Sermon

January 1, 2006, Feast of the Holy Name

  • 6:30 a.m. - Holy Eucharist
  • 8:00 a.m. - Holy Eucharist and Sermon
  • 6:00 p.m. - Holy Eucharist and Sermon
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340th Anniversary

One of the highlights of the celebrations was the Gala Banquet which took place at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on October 6, 2005. The Rt. Rev. Riah Abu El Assal Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem was the Guest Speaker. He also gave a Public Lecture on Tuesday, October 4, 2005 at the Parish Church on the topic - Arab Christians: an endangered species. While in Jamaica his schedule included a visit to the North Coast and interviews with media personalities. He met with clergy of the Diocese as well as staff and students of the United Theological College of the West Indies.
On Sunday, December 4, 2005 the year of celebrations came to a triumphant ending with a Service of Thanksgiving with the Lord Bishop as the Chief Celebrant. The Bishop chose as his text Genesis 28: verses 16 and 17. This was the same text used by the first rector at a service on January 16th 1686 when the foundation stone of the new church building was laid.

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From George Briggs - People's Warden

This morning we should all feel elated, uplifted, proud and pleased. It is a time for affirmation and for celebration as we, the people of St Andrew's Parish Church, send Bishop Robert on to his next level of service.

For nearly sixteen years we have been fortunate, privileged and blessed to have had him as our Rector. Over those years we experienced the change and growth that was brought about in all significant areas of the life of the Church, building on the accomplishments of the previous twenty plus years under former Rector - Herman Spence. This change reflected and responded to the changing circumstances and needs of the individual and corporate membership of the Church, and of the wider Anglican communion; also, it reflected and responded to changes in the immediate community as well as in the wider society.

So too has our Rector changed and grown as he shepherded us through the years, and now has been called to another and higher ministry - that of shepherd of shepherds. Our prayers are with him and his family.

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To Walk On Earth Like Gods

Spirituality is partly a question of balance. Attention to the essential pillars can help provide us with that balance. However balance is not the ultimate goal of spirituality. We want to walk the earth with balance … but we want too to walk it like gods and goddesses. We want, with our Creator, to continue to create; and with our Redeemer, to continue to redeem. We want to help God bring this planet to completion, to consummation of all that hope inspires in us. A key part of the spiritual life is to fulfill a vocation.

How do we as Christians, walk this earth as gods? As co-creators? As persons, in God's image and likeness, who are trying to help God save the planet and everything on it?

How do we fulfill our God-given vocations?
By being part of God's ongoing incarnation.

Source: The holy longing: the search for a Christian
spirituality/Ronald Rolheiser, 1998. (Page 69)

 

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


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