New archbishop says women bishops now a possibility

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NEWLY elected archbishop of the Anglican Church in the Province of the West Indies (CPWI) Howard Gregory arrived at Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) to a celebratory reception from the faithful on Friday morning.

Gregory, who will continue to serve as lord bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, was returning from the synod of the province which took place in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, May 25-30, at which he received the nomination and subsequent election.

At a press reception at the NMIA, Gregory expressed appreciation for the support and advised that the synod, usually held triennially, had been productive.

Suffragan bishop of Montego Bay Leon Golding reported that coming out of the meetings was an approved action plan for the province that will feature the roll-out of a number of activities and decisions over coming years. He added that the diocese is in a period of preparation as the province makes changes in the administration of baptism and communion.

Gregory pointed out that he would be focusing on strengthening the ties across the region, and advised that he will be moving towards implementation of a number of the issues that have not advanced beyond discussions over the years, especially as agreed in the action plan.

It was reported that the synod, attended by both clergy and lay members, looked at the challenges facing the region, among them engaging youth, poverty, crime, violence, the decriminalisation of marijuana, abortion, and the ongoing situation in Venezuela.

Gregory explained that the various dioceses were at different stages in managing these issues, and the discussions across the province would be symbiotic. He explained, too, that the synod resolved to adopt the position taken by Caricom on Venezuela, which is the pursuit of peaceful resolution of the unrest undergirded by Christian hospitality.

He added: “We recognise that our Caribbean reality is a changing one, and the role of the Anglican church was also changing…and it will impact how we understand our identity,” explaining that the church today is not the same as in the 1940s or 50s.

“We are not a church that just focuses on ourselves, but we see ourselves on a mission of ministering to the nation and throughout the province,” Gregory said.

He explained that the CPWI is one of the first of the Caribbean institutions, and quipped that it even existed before the establishment of the West Indies cricket team.

Meanwhile, asked about the advancement of women in the province, Gregory said that: “The province has accepted that women can be bishops… This synod approved a process to take it through. So right now, with immediate effect, a woman can become a bishop in the province.”

He was speaking against the background of the recent celebration of 25 years of women in ordained ministry, with celebrations having taken place locally in February of this year.

There are approximately 40 women serving in the priesthood in Jamaica, with the strength of numbers varying across the province.

The consecration of women as bishops has been a talking point across the province as more and more women have answered the call to holy orders.

The diocesan party to the Provincial Synod also included suffragan bishop of Kingston Robert Thompson, as well as Diocesan Secretary Jacqueline Mighty and Canon Grace Jervis.

During the synod, archdeacon for Montego Bay Justin Nembhard served as canonical administrator for Jamaica.

Also attending the media briefing were Diocesan Financial Board Chairman Mike Fennell, archdeacon of Kingston Patrick Cunningham, and Vin Lawrence, member of the Incorporated Lay Body.

Archbishop Gregory was later received outside the NMIA by jubilant members of the clergy and lay members of the church, with much fanfare.

The CPWI comprises eight dioceses, namely Barbados, Belize, Guyana, northeastern Caribbean and Aruba, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, the Windward Islands, as well as Jamaica & the Cayman Islands, totalling more than 100,000 members.

Gregory is the the first Jamaican-born holder of the office and the 13th archbishop of the West Indies, primate and metropolitan of the province.

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