Cast lots for new bishop
It is no coincidence that two very important elections are taking place in beautiful, beautiful Barbados at this time, and the voters come from among the same people.
They are political elections for candidates to run the country, and the election of a bishop to lead the Anglican Church.
But there is a difference. The criteria used in the political elections are different from those used in the church election.
The chief criterion is the involvement of the Holy Spirit. In the church, ask the Holy Spirit to seriously guide you, and in the process to maintain the unity of the church. Try not to use the divisive methods which are evident in the political elections.
Have you considered that the impasse you have reached so far is an indication that the Holy Spirit is pointing you in another direction? I believe so. Both candidates [Rev. John Rogers and Dean Dr Jeffrey Gibson] are good choices; and members of Synod would support one or other candidate for different reasons, many of which are self-serving.
It is now the Holy Spirit’s turn to speak clearly to the church at this time. The first reading at the Eucharist on the Sunday after the Ascension was very relevant to my recommendation: Acts 1:21-26 tells of the election of Matthias to succeed Judas. They cast lots.
Of course, there is a great difference in the reason for the vacancy. Bishop Dr John Holder did a good job, but he had reached the retirement age.
Also, the last Sunday was the Feast of Pentecost (Whitsunday), the birthday of the Christian church. So let us remember that all we do or say through the church must, primarily, not be about us and our personalities, but “about the wonderful works of God”.
Here then are three suggestions:-
(1) Have a referendum on a particular Sunday in all the congregations to get the members’ view about the “casting of lots”. In this way, you would maintain the unity of the church by giving every member an opportunity to express his or her views.
(2) Invite the two remaining candidates to sit, talk and pray with each other, thereby contributing to the unity of the church.
(3) On an appointed day, meet in St Michael’s Cathedral, and after a Spirit-guided celebration of the Holy Eucharist, cast lots. There is no further voting, but instead, in the presence of every one present, place the two names in a special box, and invite the youngest member in the Cathedral to draw a name, who would then be declared the one chosen by the Holy Spirit.
I do not have a vote, but as a very proud Barbadian and one who loves the church in Barbados, I do have a “say”. I am praying for you, and my “say” is, “Let the Holy Spirit guide you: cast lots.”
– REV. DR LLEWELLYN ARMSTRONG,
Rector, The Resurrection Anglican Congregation, Brooklyn, New York