“Open letter to Anglican clergy”

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Dear Anglican clergy, a few days ago, several devoted Anglicans were discussing the ongoing saga of electing (or not electing, depending on one’s perspective) a bishop for Barbados.

One person who is well versed in these matters explained that the Synod is the governing body of the Anglican Church and consists of the House of Clergy and the House of Laity. The two bodies have equal power. The person went on to explain that for a bishop to be elected, he must receive a two-thirds majority of the votes in each house.

It was explained that in the election so far, the House of Laity has consistently thrown its support, that is, the two-thirds necessary, to Fr. John Rogers. Dean Dr Jeffrey Gibson, on the other hand, after nine ballots, has not been able to secure a majority in either house.

The question was raised: so what seems to be the problem since one person is clearly ahead if, in fact, the two houses are equal? The reply was that although Rogers was ahead in the race, it did not matter because Gibson was leading in clergy votes.

Some members of the clergy were arguing that it should be Rogers to step aside. But that doesn’t make sense, said someone: Rogers already has one half of the requirements for bishop. The person who is behind should step aside.

It was then that an amazing statement was made: The sheep must follow the shepherd. This was meant to suggest that the laity should vote for the bishop some priests want.

Dear Anglican clergy, are you for real? Is the Anglican Church in this day and age still fixated on the ancient image of the shepherd leading unthinking sheep?

Yes, the image of the ancient shepherd with his flock of sheep is deep in the minds of Christians. Our Lord often used the image. But although it was a very familiar in ancient times, the only sheep around nowadays are black belly sheep and you don’t even see shepherds around them! So the analogy of stupid and helpless sheep to describe Christian congregations does not go down well with most people.

Christians love and respect their leaders, yes, but we are not prepared to follow blindly wherever the shepherd would lead. Today’s Christians demand to be respected and must be seen as true equals in the election of this bishop.
Anything else makes a mockery of the process!

There were other issues discussed that had to do with some of the shepherds, their credibility and where they would like to lead us.

Dear Anglican clergy, please understand that these matters are being discussed all over the country and are being taken very seriously by your congregations. If not for God’s sake, then at least for common sense sake encourage the person who is behind to step aside. Do not make the mistake of taking your people to be unthinking sheep. We are not and it will not do you well and it will not do the church well.

As it was getting late, we ended the discussion with the view that although Gibson, his overzealous supporters and those priests who still see us as sheep seem to have somewhat lost their way, he could still, with God’s help, make a useful contribution as Dean of the Cathedral, and the church could avoid further ridiculous and unnecessary trauma.

– JAMES T. BREWSTER