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Report of the 137th Synod (2007) of
Table of Contents
The 137th Synod of the Anglican Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands in the Province of the West Indies was held over the period April 10 - 13, 2007 under the theme "Called to freedom working for justice, embracing responsibility". The Synod started with the Service of Evensong at 4:30pm on Tuesday April 10 at which the Rector of the St. James Parish Church, the Very Rev. Canon Justin Nembhard officiated. The Church was filled to capacity, and the dignitaries in attendance included His Excellency The Most Hon. Professor Kenneth Hall and the Most Hon. Mrs. Rheima Holding-Hall, Dr. Horace Chang representing the Leader of the Opposition and Rev. Dr. Leslie Anderson, President of the United Theological College of the West Indies.
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The Bishop's Charge
Lord Bishop's Charge (Part 1)
The Lord Bishop based his sermon on the theme "Called to Freedom Working for Justice Embracing Responsibility". The text was from Romans 8:14-17, 19-21 & 23 in the context of 'There is a Christianity ..which takes off fetters instead of binding them on - that breaks every yoke - that lifts up the bowed down. It passes, link by link, until it finds the lowest link in humanity's chain - humanity's, most degraded condition. It reaches down its arms and tells them to stand up". (Frederick Douglas, former slave, prominent U.S. abolitionist). The Lord Bishop began by stating that the 200th Anniversary of legislation abolishing the transatlantic slave trade by the British Parliament brings up to consciousness something that the world desperately wants to forget. He however felt that it was important to commemorate the occasion as it would provide an opportunity to begin a process of the healing of memory.
He said that the Anglican Church was categorized as the Church of the slave masters and that indeed some of the worst offenders were the Anglican leaders both here and abroad. But he thanked God that in addition to being the Church of the plantocracy we were also the Church of Wilberforce, Clarkson, Sharpe and others who fought the British Parliament for over 20 years to get this bill passed. The Bishop retraced the steps of history and outlined the role of both the Church in England and Jamaica in the abolition of the slave trade.
He suggested that there were four steps to be taken to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery:
Firstly, we should reclaim our stolen humanity which entails self respect; respect for others; liberation of body, mind and spirit. True emancipation he said is not something that is granted by the British Parliament but is ours' by an irrevocable divine decree.
Secondly, we need to recover a sense of community. It is a fundamental theme in the Bible where the key concept is 'KOINONIA' meaning in English 'fellowship'. He charged us to strive to become one people.
Thirdly, we must claim the heritage of heroism and victory that our ancestors won for us. Positive remembrance should inspire us to continue the struggle and to build on the achievements of our ancestors.
Fourthly, we must embrace responsibility. As we grow up in our families, we learn through shared responsibility to 'make life together'. The Bishop made a historical link between slavery and irresponsible parenting stating that slaves were not allowed to have a sense of belonging and indeed were denied citizenship and personhood resulting in a national sense of everything being someone else's responsibility.
In closing the Bishop said we need to rediscover our authentic religious heritage and become re-acquainted with the God of the Exodus, the God of Justice, the Christ of the Jubilee and the Spirit we have received.
(The full text of the Bishops charge is available at the church
office and on the Anglican Diocese website).
Lord Bishop's Charge (Part 2)
The Lord Bishop in the second part of his charge, dealt with news from the Province and wider Anglican Communion, highlighting:
Recognition of persons who received National Honours and Awards were noted and congratulations offered.
Resignations and Clergy appointments were also highlighted by the Bishop.
Condolences were expressed to members of the church family who lost loved ones during the year. Special mention was made of the tragic passing of Rev. Richard Johnson, Rector of St. Jude's Cure, Stony Hill.
A significant and historical Synod tradition was broken by the decision not to take a roll call so that more time would be provided to expedite Synod matters. Instead scrutineers were appointed to verify registration numbers with actual head count in the room.
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The financial report for the year 2006 and estimates of receipts and expenditure for the year 2007 were presented by Mr. Mike Fennell, Chairman of the Diocesan Financial Board (DFB). The Budget for the Diocese for 2007 was:
The Budget for 2007 presented by the DFB Chairman, Mr. Mike Fennel, showed a deficit of approximately $6.37m. There was long and spirited debate on ways and means to fill the gap which included among other suggestions, tithing, strengthening the areas of evangelism, mission, and ministry which would result in a sense of commitment and responsibility.
Three options were put to Synod by the DFB Chairman as to possible ways to address this deficit and these are noted hereunder:
After much debate it was agreed by unanimous vote that option one should be implemented and a team would be appointed by the Bishop to consider the implementation of this plan.
The audited accounts for 2006 were presented and after a lively discussion the Auditors Messers Paul Goldson and Company were reelected as Auditors for the Diocese.
Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands Development Plan
The Chairman of the DFB presented the draft Five Year Development Plan for the Anglican Diocese which was prepared by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC). This developmental plan is intended to review the operations of the Church and make recommendations for improvement. Once the plan has been approved it should form the framework to facilitate the growth and development of the Diocese over the next 5 years while providing a roadmap for the way forward. Members were asked to review the document and provide a response to Church House by mid May in preparation for the reconvening of Synod on July4th 2007.
Restructuring of Synod
A document on the revitalization, renewal and restructuring of Synod was circulated for discussion. Members were broken into six groups to examine and respond to the proposals presented.
All groups presented their findings to Synod and it was not a surprise that there was consensus in most recommendations. As such the Bishop agreed to appoint a Committee that would review all recommendations received and the findings of the committee would be presented when Synod reconvenes on 4th July,2007.Back to Top
The Synod for the year 2007 carried on the trend of passing timely resolutions with potentially far-reaching impact. The following resolutions were debated and passed:
Resolution Concerning Observing Good Friday
This resolution stated that the Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands in the Province of the West Indies should:
Resolution Concerning the Need for an Annual National Emancipation Service
This resolution asked that:
Resolution Expressing Congratulations
Congratulations to Mrs. Philiseta Garnett of the Abbey Church in the Yallas Cure on the one hundredth anniversary of her birth.
Resolution Expressing Sympathy
Expression of sympathy to Mrs. Heather Johnson, widow of the late Rev. Richard Johnson on the passing of Father Johnson.
Resolution Expressing Sympathy
Expression of sympathy to the Church Communities of St. Michael's, All Angels, and St. Patrick's on the passing of a former Rector, the late Rev. Canon A. Hugh Smythe.
The only Resolution brought to Synod and not passed was one seeking to make loans more affordable to congregations by making the repayment time longer and by making the interest rate not more than 2% above the SRF Fund. It was thought by Synod that a Canon already existed for this facility to be extended.Back to Top
Jamaica Church Missionary Society (JCMS)
The Chairman of the JCMS, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Harold Daniel presented the 2006 report on the Society. The Chairman addressed the topic: God is speaking! Is the Church listening? He said that in obeying God's command, the church is to fulfill God's redemptive mission on earth, and therefore its agenda must always be aligned with God's agenda.
He stated that the commitment to God's mission must be demonstrated in a number of practical ways:
In the first place, the examination of the prayer life of the church in the corporate expression as well as in its individual members is an important indicator of the church's missionary nature.
In the second place, the examination of the programming and budgeting of the church is another important indicator.
In the third place, an examination of the focus of spiritual formation is yet another indicator.
The final indicator is zeal - no mission without passion
He closed by asking the question again - God is speaking. are we listening? He urged that if we hear his voice, we should not harden our hearts, but in obedience pursue the pathways of God's mission in God's world.
The Society continued in 2006 to supplement the operational expenses of several entities, including St. Andrew Settlement, by providing it with a sum of $60,000:00; St. Andrew Parish Church was among the top five contributors to the Society, contributing a sum of $131,935.00. The Society received contributions by Deaneries of $3,864,371.99, while it had a projected expenditure for 2006 of $4,586,111.00.
The resurrection of St. Jude's Chapel-of-Ease, Bourbon, Cure of Fellowship and Moore Town, Deanery of Portland and support of the Church of the Conversion Of St. Paul Mission in Greater Portmore were two of the main features of the work of the Society during 2006.Back to Top
Education And Youth Department
During 2006, the Department of Education and Youth continued its efforts of contributing to the Jamaican society while at the same time developing new areas that would meet the challenges of the future. The task is to be accomplished through the continuous education of its membership, while promoting a visionary outlook from the youth membership of the Church. Some of the steps taken and some of the challenges identified were highlighted. These included:
The subject of Family Life was chosen by the Department as the topic to be presented at Synod for the foundation and framework to be laid on which to proceed to heighten awareness and involvement of the Diocese on the subject.
Three presenters spoke on the topic - Professor Barry Chevannes on 'Family Life'; Deaconess Elaine Cunningham on 'What is happening in Family Life' and Bishop Howard Gregory on 'What the Church should be doing in response to the challenges to Family Life'.
The issues addressed in the presentations included:
All of the above topics were presented and examined in relation to the Church's position on these issues - i.e. is there a position; what is it; what should it be; how it can be standardized across the church; how do we address these issues and find solutions.
There was much spirited discussion representing a cross-section of views of the issues. The general consensus was that the Church has not been having much of an impact on families, and that it needed to seed models of intervention to finding solutions.
Mrs. Barbara Gloudon suggested that a small sub-committee be established to look at Family Life, using the basis of the three presentations, so that the Diocese can come up with guidelines on how to proceed on dealing with the matter.Back to Top
Address By Professor Patrick Bryan, Lecturer, Department of Hhistory
Professor Bryan made an insightful presentation to members on the historical context of the Trans Atlantic slave trade and its impact on the shaping and development of the people of the region.
Professor Bryan responded to questions after which a presentation was made to him and Mr. Vivian Crawford gave the vote of thanks.Back to Top
Appointments Of Members Of The Church
Please note that the following members of our church serve on the following Boards and Committees and welcome your comments.
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Each day started with Matins at 6:30 am and the Eucharist at 7:00 am which was led by the Bishop of each region each day. Each day closed with Evensong at about 5:30 pm. This helped to set the tone for the Synod and this time spent with the Lord was essential and invaluable.
Friday afternoon the Bishop thanked those who had made the Synod possible and had laboured long hours. At 12:00 noon with the singing of the doxology and the blessing by the President, Synod was prorogued and the date Wednesday 4th July, 2007 set for reconvening.
Some Final Observations:
Copies of documents are available through the Church Office.
Now, as we go forward together in peace, may we in the tradition of our ancestors continue working for justice and embracing responsibility.
Lay Representatives to Synod 2007
Andrea Chin See
June 18, 2007.
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Page last updated: July 7, 2007
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