Archbishop Rt. Drexel Gomez at Christ Church Cathedral last evening to open the 107th Synod session of the Anglican Church of The Bahamas. Co-Adjutor Bishop Laish Boyd (L) and Assistant Bishop Gilbert Thompson (R) join in the opening service.
Nassau Bahamas – The Archbishop of the West Indies and Bishop of the Bahamas including the Turks and Caicos Islands, His Grace Drexel Gomez called for the Bahamas’ return to Christian values at the opening session of the 107th Synod of the Anglican Church. The Synod opening was held at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown George Street, Nassau last evening.
Archbishop Gomez called for a return to Christian values as crime around the country is at unacceptable levels. “The high level of criminal activity reflects a society that has lost its moral bearing.” The Archbishop said adding that “many members [of the church] talk the talk but refuse to walk the walk.”
“We have also allowed a sub-culture to develop over the past five decades that conflicts with traditional Christian teachings and practice. We must return as a society to the basic Christian values for example; fidelity in marriage, respect for elders, good manners, extolling the virtues of hard work, respect for decency law and order, including the acceptance of the inherent worth and value of each human being.” The Archbishop said.
The head of the Anglican Church in The Bahamas called on the community to redouble their efforts to improve the quality of homes and family life noting that these values are taught in the home. “The battle for the family is the battle for the soul of the nation.” The Archbishop said.
The Anglican church head commended the Royal Bahamas Police Force for their valiant efforts in bringing criminals to justice and congratulated the leadership at HM Prison, for their programmes that have reduced recidivism.
Turning his attention to the country’s polarized political climate, Archbishop Gomez repeated his comments just after the May 2 elections, of the high ‘political’ temperature in The Bahamas. “I call upon the leadership of all political parties including the majority and minority parties in Parliament to leave no stone unturned in the urgent quest to reduce the political temperature in the national interest,” Archbishop said.
The Archbishop called for lawmakers to seriously look at the situation of campaign finance reform.
“If the ability to raise significant financial contributions continues as the determining factor in our elections, such a process will automatically exclude persons and parties who are unable to attract substantial funding,” he said.
“In such a situation, democracy is seriously challenged. I also believe that relevant campaign finance reform should include setting limits on individual contributions together with a compulsory declaration of candidates and parties stating the names of the donors and the amounts contributed.” The Archbishop said.
The Archbishop used the opening to address a myriad of national issues including education, calling on the government to once again make education the driving focus of the country. The Archbishop drew examples of successful programmes in Barbados and Trinidad and programmes like ‘No child left behind’ in the United States.
The Synod sessions will close on Thursday of this week.
SEE FULL TEXT OF Archbishop Drexel Gomez 107th Synod Charge
THE DIOCESE OF THE BAHAMAS AND THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS
THE BISHOP’S CHARGE TO THE ONE-HUNDRED AND SEVENTH SESSION OF SYNOD
In the name of our triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I extend a heartfelt welcome to this 107th Session of the Synod of the Diocese of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands to my brothers in the Episcopate, brothers and sisters of the House of Clergy, sisters and brothers of the House of the Laity. I also warmly welcome to this session, the bishop of our Companion Diocese, the Rt. Rev’d. Leopold Frade and the delegation from the Diocese of Southeast Florida and from the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Mr. Hartley Colebrooke, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Mr. Terry Smith, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
As we begin our session, we offer thanks to God for delivering us from the ravages of hurricanes, and we pray that we may be spared for the remainder of this hurricane season. We also remember brothers and sisters of the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands as they recover from the damages inflicted by Hurricane Dean. I have requested each parish of the Diocese to contribute towards a diocesan offering for our brothers and sisters in Jamaica. I urge all the parishes to respond as quickly as possible.
II. ANGLICAN COMMUNION AFFAIRS
1. PROPOSED ANGLICAN COVENANT
At our last session, I presented Synod with the detailed report on the factors which led to the establishment of The Covenant Design Group to prepare a draft covenant document for consideration by the entire Anglican Communion. I also indicated that I had accepted the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury to serve as chairman of The Covenant Design Group.
We held our first meeting in Nassau in February when we produced a draft covenant. A copy of this document is included in the Synod booklet. The draft covenant was presented to the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council and to the Primates Meeting held at Dar es Salaam in February. The Primates agreed to circulate the draft to all the Provinces of the Communion for study and comment and requested that comments be submitted to the Anglican Communion Office in London by December 31st.
On receipt of the comments from across the Communion, the Covenant Design Group will meet in London during the last week of January 2008 to prepare an updated version in the light of the submissions from the Provinces. On this basis, a revised draft will be presented to the Lambeth Conference in July.
The House of Bishops of our Province will present a submission on the Covenant to the Provincial Synod in November 2007.
2. THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH
At our last session, I provided Synod with an update on the response of the Episcopal Church in the United States to the questions raised in the Windsor Report. The Primates reviewed the report on the response provided by the Episcopal Church through its General Convention in June 2006.
The Primates at Dar es Saleem put three questions to the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church and requested responses by September 30th, 2007. The three issues were:
1. consent to the consecration to the Episcopate of people living in same-sex unions. The Primates requested the Bishops to confirm that resolution BO 33 of General Convention means that a candidate in a same-sex union will not receive consent to be consecrated to the episcopate. Resolution BO 33 was the General Conventions response to the call of the Windsor Report for a moratorium on consecrations of persons in same-sex unions. BO 33 reads as follows “Resolved, that this Convention therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further stains on communion.”
The House of Bishops at their meeting held in New Orleans 20-25 September responded as follows, “The House acknowledges that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom BO 33 pertains.” While the use of the term moratorium was avoided by the Bishops the response provides a positive clarification and also provides reason to believe that consent for consecrations of gay and lesbian candidates will not be given in the Episcopal Church unless General Convention decides otherwise.
2. SAME-SEX BLESSINGS
The Primates noted the ambiguous stance of the Episcopal Church. “There appears to us to be an inconsistency between the position of General Convention and local pastoral provision.” The Primates requested to House of Bishops to “make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorize any Rule of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention.”
The House of Bishops responded that they “pledge as a body not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex union until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action.” While the bishops affirmed that the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same sex unions they implied that quite a few bishops actually do. In addition, the bishops also implied that local pastoral provisions will continue in particular local contexts.
In this regard the pledge of the Bishops “not to authorize for use any public rites of blessing” fails to remove the ambiguity between the non-authorization of public rites and the acceptance of local pastoral provisions.
3. PASTORAL COUNCIL AND PASTORAL SCHEME
In an attempt to resolve the tensions in the Episcopal Church created by Clergy and congregations, who considered themselves alienated from the leadership of the Episcopal and sought pastoral assistance from Bishops and Primates from other parts of the Communion, the Primates offered a Pastoral Council and a Pastoral Scheme as a temporary measure to prevent interventions. The proposed Council consisted of two persons nominated by the Primates, two by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and a chairman appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The House of Bishops and the Executive Council rejected the Primates’ proposals outright on the grounds that they contravened the polity of the Episcopal Church. Even when one admits that the proposals many have presented a real difficulty for the polity of the Episcopal Church, there was no attempt in the period March to September 07 to seriously engage with the proposals from the Primates. Instead, the House of Bishops’ statement proposes exactly the sort of alternative that the Primates knew was not working and would not work for those who were experiencing alienation within the Episcopal Church. The clear implication of the Bishops’ rejection is that they want interventions to stop on their own terms, not on the terms of the Primates’ proposal.
The Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council who accompanied the Archbishop of Canterbury at the House of Bishops meeting have issued a detailed statement on the meeting and the implications of the decisions for the wider Anglican Communion. In respect of the two issues related to the sexuality question, namely, the consecration of gay or lesbian and the blessing of same-sex unions, the Joint Committee gave a very generous conclusion on both issues. However, subsequent comments from some bishops and diocesan publications in the United States indicate that the Joint Standing Committee’s assessment of the situation in respect of same-sex blessings does not accurately describe the situation in many dioceses where same-sex blessings occur on a regular basis.
Copies of the Bishops’ Statement, the statement of the Joint Standing Committee and the assessment of both offered by the Anglican Communion Institute, are contained in the Synod’s booklet. The Archbishop of Canterbury has requested the Primates to comment on these documents by the 31st October 2007.
The basic issue before the Communion is the relationship of the Episcopal Church and the rest of the Anglican Communion in the light of the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire and the ongoing ambiguity over same-sex blessings. In addition, the Communion must make some decisions on the resolution of the situation created by the interventions by certain Primates on behalf of those members of the Episcopal Church who feel alienated on theological grounds. At the heart of the matter is the teaching of the Communion as contained in Lambeth Resolution 1:10, which clearly states that homosexual practice is contrary to the Biblical revelation. One of the clearest expositions of this theological position is articulated by Richard Hays in “The Moral Vision of the New Testament.”
“Paul singles out homosexual intercourse for special attention because he regards it as providing a particularly graphic image of the way in which human distorts God’s created order. God the Creator made man and woman for each other, to cleave together, to be fruitful and multiply. When human beings ‘exchange’ these created roles for homosexual intercourse, they embody the spiritual condition of those who have ‘exchanged the truth about God for a lie.”
The Province of the West Indies adheres firmly to this theological position.
The diversity of opinions across the Communion has led some persons to conclude the Anglican Communion will have to divide, seeing that those who are convinced that the Gospel is clear in its teaching and must take precedence over culture cannot accommodate those who believe the contrary. The split, if it occurs, will be about the most fundamental of all questions: the nature of reality. Which relationships correspond to God’s ordering of Life, and which violate it? It is clear that the future of the Anglican Communion is unclear at the moment, but there can be no doubt that the future shape of Anglicanism will have to undergo significant adjustments if the Communion is to remain intact. The Archbishop of Canterbury in his reflection shared with Synod at its last session, clearly stated that as a result of the action taken by the Episcopal Church in 2003, “There is no way in which the Anglican Communion can remain unchanged by what is happening at the moment.” Meanwhile, I hope and pray that collectively we may, as a Communion, find a way forward that avoids the route of a split. However, we are faced with a serious challenge!
3. THE LAMBETH CONFERENCE
The next Lambeth Conference is scheduled for July 2008. Two main issues have emerged in the process leading up to the proposed Conference, via the shape of the Conference and the invitees to the Conference.
The Lambeth Conference has emerged into a quasi Council at which the bishops of the Communion comment on various issues related to the teaching and practice of the church in the contemporary setting. The positions enunciated by the bishops are unusually contained in resolutions of the conference. The reports of the Lambeth Conference have been used as a guide to Anglican teaching and practice.
The planning committee for the 2008 conference is preparing to reduce resolutions to a bare minimum and to focus on work in small groups to replace the multiplicity of plenary sessions.
Invitations to Lambeth are always issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Some bishops have expressed the view that the bishops who consecrated the Bishop of New Hampshire should not be invited. Others have expressed the view that all bishops, without exception should be invited. The debate over the invitations has led to the late responses from several Provinces of the Communion including several from the Global South who are indicating that they will not attend if the Archbishop does not apply some form of discipline against those who have not upheld the Church’s teaching and practice. While it is clear that, the planning for Lambeth 2008 will proceed, it is also quite clear that a significant number of bishops may not attend. There can be no doubt that Lambeth 2008 will find the Anglican Communion at a dangerous crossroad.
Members of Synod should be aware that the bishops of our Province plan to attend.
III. PROVINCIAL CONCERNS
1. PROVINCIAL SYNOD
The regular triennial session of the Provincial Synod of the Church in the Province of the West Indies will meet in Antigua in the Diocese of N.E.C.A. (North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba) during the last week of November 2007.
The Synod is comprised of three houses via: a) The House of Bishops
b) The House of Clergy. Each diocesan
Synod elects two members.
c) The House of Laity. Each diocesan
Synod also elects two members of
Each diocese also appoints a Youth delegate to put in either the House of the Laity or the House of Clergy. The following Provincial officers are also members of Provincial Synod:
The Provincial Chancellor
The Provincial Registrar
The Provincial Secretary
The Synod will receive reports from the Provincial Standing Committee and the various Provincial Commissions covering activities undertaken during the past three years. The last Synod was held in the Diocese of Belize in 2004. The Synod will plan for the outreach of the Province for the next triennium including consideration of Anglican Communion affairs.
The forthcoming Synod will afford me the opportunity to preside for the fourth and final regular session of the Synod as I plan to demit office at December 31st, 2008. At this session, I will be accompanied by the following members from this diocese:
Bishop Laish Boyd – Bishop Coadjutor
Bishop Gilbert Thompson – Assistant Bishop
Mrs. Rubie Nottage – Provincial Chancellor
Mr. Bernard Turner – Provincial Registrar
Archdeacon Ranfurly Brown – Clergy
Archdeacon Cornell Moss – Clergy
Rev’d. Enrique McCartney – Youth delegate
Mrs. Carol Hanna –Laity
Mr. Kurth Wallace – Laity
2. REPRINT OF THE PRAYER BOOK CPWI
I am pleased to announce that copies of the reprinted edition of the Prayer Book of the Church in the Province of the West Indies (CPWI) are on sale at fifteen dollars ($15) each.
In the preface to the new edition of the Prayer Book, I paid special tribute to Mr. Paul Cooper of the Acme Printers who supervised the pre-printing process as a donation to the Church.
I shall invite Synod to express gratitude to Mr. Cooper for his tremendous contribution to the Province and the Diocese.
3. PROVINCIAL HYMN BOOK
The Provincial Liturgical Commission will present a report to Provincial Synod on the status of the project for the printing and publishing of a Provincial Hymn Book for the Province of the West Indies. The hymns selected consist of familiar traditional hymnody in addition to some modern and Caribbean selections. The Synod will determine the manner in which the project will be financed. We look forward to a West Indian Hymn Book to accompany our West Indian Prayer Book.
4. CODRINGTON COLLEGE
The Provincial Synod will receive a report from the Codrington Trust and Codrington College.
The college continues to play a major role in the Theological Education for our Province, and we in this Diocese are eternally grateful for the number of Clergy from the Diocese trained at Codrington.
The College, under the able leadership of the Principal, Dr. Ian Rock, is functioning with a reduced number of full-time staff. The House of Bishops and the Provincial Standing Committee have agreed to establish an Endowment Fund for the training of theologians so as to ensure that eventually a cadre of qualified persons will be available to ensure that the College will be able to function as a center for theological formation. The Diocesan Council of our Diocese has agreed to support this venture.
Our Diocese continues to provide members of the student body at Codrington. Our present enrollment includes:
Mr. Neil Nairn – St. Gregory, N. P.
Miss Letha Strachan – St. Barnabas, N. P.
Mr. Bradley Miller – St. George’s, N. P.
Mr. Alvardo Adderley – All Saints, N. P.
Our Diocese is also sponsoring a student from the Diocese of Belize as a part of our partners–in–mission within the Province.
The diocese is also sponsoring one student outside of the Province:
Mr. Kari Marcelle, Holy Trinity, N. P., is in his second year at Wycliffe College, Toronto, Canada.
Synod is requested to encourage persons to accept God’s call for service in the ordained ministry. The Clergy are encouraged to promote the Fellowship of Vocations where we encourage persons to discern and respond to God’s call. The whole church is requested to pray for an increase in vocations for the sacred ministry.
IV. DIOCESAN CONCERNS
(a) MISSION AND MINISTRY
At our last Session, Synod endorsed the “mission and ministry” project and commended it to every parish and congregation. The literature produced by the Diocesan Committee under the chairmanship of the Bishop Coadjutor was distributed and parishes were encouraged to engage in a study/reflection process focusing on the implications of mission and ministry in our particular context. Each parish was requested to invite members of the congregation to complete a questionnaire produced by the Diocesan Committee. A report on the submissions from the parishes has been included in the Synod booklet.
At this session, Synod will be requested to indicate a course of action to carry forward the work already commenced in the parishes. In this regard, I strongly commend two excellent publications on mission:
1) “The Mission of God” by Christopher J.H. Wright published by IVP.
2) “A Ministry Shaped by Mission” by Paul Avis published by T&T Clark.
Wright’s publication deals in great detail with the theology of mission with special reference to Biblical hermeneutics (methods of interpretation). Avis’ book presents a classical Anglican approach to mission and ministry within an ecumenical framework. Avis’ book will provide a solid basis for serious study of mission and ministry, and I warmly commend it to the Clergy and lay leaders in the parishes.
As we proceed to the second phase of our mission and ministry project, I invite Synod to reflect on the following four areas: –
1. A comprehensive description of mission provided by Wright (pages 22-23):
“Fundamentally, our mission (if it is biblically informed and validated) means our committed participation as God’s people, at God’s invitation and command, in God’s own mission within the history of God’s World for the redemption of God’s creation.”
We cannot succeed in mission without a clear grasp of the fact that the mission of the church is the mission of God “missio dei.” Avis comments are also noteworthy:
“The prevenient reality of missio dei means that Christians are not in the futile business of attempting to bring an absent Christ to an abandoned world. God is already ahead of us in mission. We are following the footsteps of the Lord, discovering where he is already at work and through which he is working. Mission is premised on the theological conviction that Christ is already present to the World through the continual universal operation of the Holy Spirit” (Avis page 7).
Serious reflection on mission as “missio dei” should lead us to pray for:
(a) Discernment – the Holy Spirit will open the eyes of our understanding that we may genuinely see where God is trying to lead us.
(b) Commitment – A sincere determination to follow where God leads.
(c) Appreciation – We recognize and appreciate the privilege God bestows upon us to participate in His work. Genuine appreciation will result in humble gratitude and dedicated service.
2. Mission as “missio dei” is focused on persons; without this focus mission is impaired:
“It is persons, created in the image of the personal God, who are on the receiving end of mission. Its goals, values and methods must be appropriate to their personhood and not ride roughshod over it. In mission, people are sent to people: mission takes place person to person, face to face. Where that personal and relational dimension is comprised: it becomes distant, mechanical, unreal and ineffective. In mission, the church draws near to individuals, households, families and communities in the name of the person of Jesus Christ. It seeks to lead then into greater wholeness by drawing them into the life of the Christian community as the Body of Christ. It ministers among them and to them in the personal mode, in a relational framework. Ministry is not primarily a pet of functions, but a self-giving of one’s wholeperson, imperfect and in need of being made whole as it is.” (Avis page 4)
We who are privileged by God to share in the ordained ministry of Jesus Christ need to pay special attention to this emphasis on the personal in mission and ministry. One of the perennial temptations with which we are confronted is to approach ministry as “a set of functions”. Can we honestly affirm that our outreach in mission and ministry at parish level is focused on persons? What emphasis do we place on reaching persons in the normal day-to-day activities in the parish? Are there aspects of our outreach in ministry that are “distant, mechanical, unreal and ineffective?” If our participation in mission and ministry is to reflect the “missio dei,” we must answer these searching questions with honesty and integrity!
In this regard, I venture to suggest that all of us must become intentional in our outreach to persons. I have formed the view that our failure as a diocese to establish personal contact with thousands of nominal Anglicans is due to an insufficient appreciation of the fact that “It is persons, created in the image of the personal God, who are on the receiving end of mission.” I invite Synod to reaffirm the importance of the personal and relational dimension in ministry and suggest ways and means of improving the quality of our outreach in this area in all of our congregations in the Bahamas and in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
3. Mission as “missio dei” pays due respect to context. Attention to context
“is vital to ensure that any programme for mission is not theoretical but is ‘on target’ – that is to say, thought through in the light of the social and cultural situation in which mission is conducted.” (Avis pg. xi)
Effective engagement in mission demands that we take our context seriously. We are therefore required to have at least a working knowledge of what’s going on in our communities including the presuppositions and attitudes that inform decision making in the culture. If we lack a basic understanding of our context, we will not be able to communicate effectiveness in mission and ministry. We must meet people where they are if we are to lead them to the truth as found in Jesus.
As a diocese, we have to learn how to take our culture seriously, as we seek to challenge persons to accept the saving truths of the Gospel. A serious engagement with our cultural context does not require acceptance of the prevailing mindset of the culture. However, our ability to minister effectively is significantly reduced if we fail to engage.
I firmly believe that we, as a church, have not taken our cultural content seriously, and I invite Synod to pay careful attention to this area of concern for mission and ministry and to suggest appropriate areas of engagement.
4. All Christians are invited to participate in the “missio dei” that shapes the mission of the Church and see that the mission that is entrusted to the Church takes the form of a triple ministry of word, sacrament and pastoral responsibility.” (Avis xv)
“In the Great Commission each specific activity that is commanded by Jesus stands for a particular wider area of the church’s ministry. Teaching equates to the ministry of the word; baptism to the ministry of the sacraments and making disciples to the ministry of pastoral care and oversight.” (Avis 23-24)
I invite Synod to reflect briefly on these three vital areas for mission and ministry – ministry of word, sacrament and pastoral care.
(a) THE WORD IN MISSION
The ministry of the word takes two forms, proclamation and teaching. It comprises proclaiming the gospel by every possible appropriate means and expounding the Scriptures to provide instruction in the faith. To preach the Gospel of Christ, which is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16), is a primary task of the church. But along with proclamation (kerygma) goes instruction (didache) whereby the faithful are built up as the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). Both these tasks of the church are essential to its mission because they are expressions of the apostolicity. For the church is apostolic when it is not only grounded in the apostolic proclamation but also faithful to the Apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42) (see Avis 27).
In today’s world, both the proclamation and teaching must employ the method of dialogue to ensure that communication takes place. “What is quite clear and introvertible is that today there can be no communication without conservation.” (Avis 28)
In our Diocese we are severely challenged in this area, because we have functioned mainly from a pattern based on a monologue in which one party (usually the ordained) speaks and the other party (the laity) listens. We have tended not to focus on a meeting of minds. Both in our preaching and in our teaching, we have to explore ways and means of promoting dialogue to ensure that communication takes place. Unfortunately, there are too many instances in which our preaching and our teaching are not making real contact with people thereby leading to the failure to build up the body of Christ. We cannot afford to continue with the mindset that is content to preach and teach from a ‘take-it-or-leave it’ perspective. In my opinion, there is an urgent need for us to address the way we preach and teach so as to ensure that the ministry of the word does truly serve the cause of mission. We neglect this challenge to our peril because a failure to connect with our contemporaries will reduce the impact of the church’s message and automatically decrease our ability to present an authentic Christian perspective on the issues with which society is seeking to grapple. In this issue, the Clergy must examine ways and means of establishing real contact with the members of the congregation as they together seek to entrench the saving message of the Gospel in the hearts and minds of the hearers.
(b) THE SACRAMENTS IN MISSION
There is an urgent need for the church to recapture a sense of the importance of the Sacraments in mission:
“Celebrating the sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ belongs to the tasks of the Church alongside the ministry of the word. The performance of the sacraments has two focal points. The first and immediate focus is obviously the worship offered by the church. To offer to God adoration, thanksgiving and intercession belongs unquestionably to the mission and entrusted to the church. But this cannot be separated from the second focus, the public world and its needs. The celebrating of the sacraments is not the private ritual of an in-group. It is not the church talking to itself. It is a primary act of witness and of evangelism (Avis pg 28).
Baptism is the fundamental sacrament of Christian initiation. That process of initiation is continued sacramentally in Confirmation, with its personal confession of faith and the strengthening of the Holy Spirit. It is completed in the sacrament of the Eucharist, when we offer ourselves, all unworthily, as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) in union with Christ’s perfect oblation of himself on the cross, and receive his Body and Blood in Holy Communion. The Eucharist manifests and deepens our incorporation into the mystical Body of Christ and thus into the koinonia (communion, fellowship) of the Church. Other expressions of the sacramentality of the Church’s life are grounded in the reality that wherever the word of God is joined to significant actions to comprise an outward visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace God works to deepen our covenantal union with Him. By means of the sacraments – God’s presence and power are made available to us to participate in God’s purpose for the church and the entire creation.
As a church, we need to expose our members to more in depth teaching on the sacraments as God’s special gifts to us to equip us for mission. As such, they represent a ‘treasure in earthen vessels’. One of the obvious ways to deepen our appreciation of the sacraments is to expose more of our members to the Cursillo movement and Discovery encounter events throughout the parishes of the Diocese. We fail to show appreciation of God’s self-giving to us in the Sacraments by restricting our teaching to preparation for Confirmation. Our “formation in Christ” is greatly enhanced by regular and consistent participation in the sacramental life of the church.
(c) PASTORAL CARE IN MISSION
Pastoral care provides support and guidance amid the dilemmas, temptations and afflictions of life. It fosters a personal application of Christian teaching to daily life.
Pattison in “Critique of Pastoral Care,” offers the following definition that sees pastoral care as:
“that activity, undertaken especially by representative Christian persons, directed towards the elimination and relief of sin and sorrow and the presentation of all people perfect in Christ to God.”
In this statement, pastoral care is explicitly orientated to Christ’s work of salvation. It includes training in discipleship, in holiness, within the community of the church and through its means of grace (Avis pg. 40). In this regard, we need to note that an important part of the church’s pastoral task is to offer a moral framework for life, one that is grounded in biblical revelation and Christian tradition. As part of its pastoral outreach the church should offer a vision for the good of humanity; a vision that is compelling for its own members and attractive to people of goodwill who are not fully committed to the church. “It belongs to the moral leadership of the church to redefine, refocus, and carefully and responsibly critique, if necessary, the consensus of values espoused by society.” There can be no doubt whatsoever that there is a glaring need for the church to challenge the current consensus in our society in respect of prevailing standards, goals and values that are blatantly immoral and or materialistic to the core. We offer our challenge in a non-confrontational manner because we truly care about the wholeness of life in our society. Avis correctly reminds us that “Proclaiming the gospel, however eloquently, will cut no ice with unchurched people today where they are assured by experience that a caring pastoral heart lies beyond the words… effective mission is truly pastoral: it is Christ-like compassionate care that gives mission and evangelization credibility.”
As a Diocese, we desperately need to improve on the quality of pastoral care that we offer as we seek to continue our participation in the “missio dei.” In this regard, I call upon the Clergy to lead this charge by word and example. The church does not need functionaries; she needs pastors who exhibit Christ-like compassionate care as they seek to minister in the name of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
I therefore invite Synod to reflect on these areas of mission that I have identified and commend then to the parishes for study and appropriate action. I firmly believe that our collective embrace of those challenges will significantly impact the quality of life and witness in our Diocese, both in the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
(b) THE CLERGY
1. NEW DEACONS
Two deacons were ordained inJuly.
The Reverend Marie Roach
The Reverend Paulette Cartwright
Deacon Roach successfully completed her training at Wycliffe College in Oxford, U.K, and she is presently serving as the Assistant Curate at St. Gregory’s Parish, New Providence. She formerly served as the Director of Education for the Anglican Central Education Authority.
Deacon Cartwright completed her training at Codrington College and is presently serving in the Parish of St. Paul, Long Island. Deacon Cartwright’s ordination and placement in St. Paul’s Parish received some adverse comments from a few members of the parish who take exception to the ordination of women. Members of Synod are aware that this Diocese took the policy decision to ordain women for full time ministry, and to date we have received outstanding contributions from those women who have been ordained in the Diocese. Some members of Synod may not be aware of the fact that Deacon Cartwright’s selection for training followed the normal accepted pattern in the Diocese, including the positive endorsement from the local Parish Vestry of St. Paul as a prerequisite.
We are confident that Deacon Cartwright will give dedicated, committed service as a member of the Clergy.
2. NEW PRIESTS
Four Deacons were ordained to the Sacred Priesthood during August:
The Reverend Theadore Hunt
The Reverend Ethan Ferguson
The Reverend Berkeley Smith
The Reverend Tellison Glover
Father Hunt continues to serve as Assistant Curate at St. Mary the Virgin, N.P.
Father Ferguson continues as Assistant Curate in the parish of Holy Cross, N.P.
Father Smith has been posted to serve as Assistant Curate at St. Luke’s, Eleuthera.
Father Glover continues to serve as Assistant Curate at the Pro-Cathedral of Christ the King, Grand Bahama.
3. ASSIGNMENTS SINCE OUR LAST SESSION
Fr. Rodney Burrows – Priest-in-Charge, Christ the King, N.P.
Fr. Donald Kerr – Priest-in-Charge, St. Stephen’s Parish, Central Andros
Fr. Norman Lightbourne – Rector, Holy Cross, N.P.
Fr. Shazzasbazzar Turnquest – Priest-in-Charge, St. Margaret’s, North Andros
Fr. Colin Humes, Rector, Our Lady and St. Stephen’s, Bimini
Fr. Arlington Bartlett – Rector, St. Philip’s, Inagua
Fr. Chester Burton – Priest-in-Charge, St. Saviour’s, Cat Island
Rev’d. Erma Ambrose – Rector, Parish of the Good Shepherd, Grand Bahama
Fr. Berkeley Smith – Assistant Curate, St. Luke’s, South Eleuthera
Fr. De Angelo Bowe – Priest-in-Charge, St. Nicholas, Grand Bahama
Synod should once again note that we in this Diocese can rejoice over the fact that we have been able to ensure that every cure in the diocese has an Incumbent. We give God the thanks and the praise for He has indeed been good to us.
I request Synod to note that Canon Warren Rolle will retire as an Incumbent in the Diocese as of December 31st, 2007. Throughout his priestly ministry, Canon Rolle has served the church as a teacher and a parish priest. His teaching ministry has been shared with our Anglican Central Authority and the College of the Bahamas. His parochial ministry has been exercised chiefly at the Parish of St. Agnes, N.P. and the Parish of St. Mary the Virgin, N.P., where he has served as Rector since September 1st, 1997.
As we acknowledge Canon Rolle’s dedicated and faithful service, I request Synod to express thanks and appreciation.
We wish Canon Rolle well in his retirement.
5. THE MINISTRY TO THE HAITIAN COMMUNITY
I regret to inform Synod that Father Fequel LaPlante has offered his resignation as a priest with special responsibility for the development of an Anglican ministry to the Haitian community. Father LaPlante has served in Abaco and Grand Bahama. Unfortunately, despite the fact that overtures were made for the establishment of this ministry circumstances did not encourage growth and development.
Father LaPlante will be pursuing further studies as he seeks a placement in another part of God’s vineyard.
I request Synod to place on record its thanks and appreciation for the ministry of Father LaPlante. We wish Father LaPlante and Mrs. LaPlante well for the future.
6. DIOCESAN ORGANIZATIONS
We continue, as a diocese, to express our thanks for the manner in which our good and gracious heavenly Father has enabled our diocesan organizations to continue their contributions towards the growth and development of our Diocese.
The Anglican Church Women (ACW), our largest and oldest organization continues to grow and flourish. It was most heartening to note the large number of new members at the Annual Conference Eucharist at Christ Church Cathedral in May 2007.
Ms. Inger Saunders is enjoying her second year as President of the ACW Council. We await the completion of the Council’s plans for restructuring the organization, and we pray that the President and Officers of the ACW Council and the officers and members of the parochial branches of the ACW will work together for the improvement of the quality of outreach from the ACW throughout the Diocese. We also express heartfelt thanks for the annual contribution of the ACW to Diocesan Outreach.
The Anglican Church Men, under the leadership of the President of the ACM Council, Mr. Kurth Wallace, continues to display evidence of growth and vitality. I warmly commend the plan to honour men from across the branches of the Diocese at the ACM Recognition Banquet scheduled for Friday, October 2007. We express our thanks and appreciation for the service rendered by some members of the ACM in the refurbishment of the buildings in North Andros under the direction of Father Shazzasbazzar Turnquest. We also offer thanks for the continued financial support of the ACM for our diocesan radio programme, Insight. We continue to pray that more of our male Anglicans will personally identify with the aims and objectives of the ACM and thereby, by the grace of God, produce a more robust male outreach in the church and in the wider society. Finally, we continue to support the Sons of Thunder in their musical ministry in the Diocese.
The Diocesan Youth Department is led by Father Enrique McCartney, our Diocesan Youth Officer, and his assistant, Miss Tiffany Hall. At lour last session, I made a special appeal for greater support for the work of the department from the parishes of the Diocese. The Department exists to serve the church’s outreach to the youth. At the Clergy Conference held in Exuma in May 2007, I requested the Clergy to elevate the ministry to the youth to a position of top priority. In this regard, we require more persons who will volunteer to serve as youth leaders and each parish needs to facilitate the development of this most important aspect of mission and ministry.
In addition to the initiatives provided by the Diocesan Youth Department, the Diocese should pay urgent attention to a consolidated youth ministry that would embrace all persons involved in Sunday School and participants in the uniformed groups, e.g., Scouts, Guides and Brigades. As a diocese, we should ensure that all of our young people are exposed fully to the areas of mission and ministry outlined above. Please continue to pray for the staff in our Youth Department and all those persons involved in the function of the young in the way of Christ our ever-living Lord.
The Diocesan Communications, led by Ms. Veronica Duncanson continues to produce our diocesan newspaper, “the Voice,” in addition to the provision of public relations service for the Diocese. The team requires greater co-operation from the parishes with special emphasis on the timely submission of information on events and activities in the parishes.
I invite Synod to express thanks and appreciation to Ms. Duncanson and the Diocesan Communications Team.
7. APPOINTMENT – VICE CHANCELLOR
I am delighted to inform Synod that Mr. Sam Campbell has accepted my offer to serve as Vice Chancellor in our Diocese. Mr. Campbell brings to the post a wealth of experience in the legal field, and he is a committed and dedicated Anglican. He and his family are regular members of Christ Church Cathedral. We are confident that Mr. Campbell will give true and laudable service as Vice Chancellor.
V CHURCH AND SOCIETY
The quality of life experienced by the citizens and residents of a country directly impacts on the wholeness of the society. In my charge to the last session, I indicated that there were two key issues related to the developments of a high quality of life, namely, the type of country we wish to build and the type of Bahamian we wish to develop. In respect of the latter, I called for a national consensus based on the following qualities and characteristics:-
? Honesty and integrity
? Hard work and industry
? Community building
I continue in my belief that these are desirable building blocs for Bahamians to embrace as we strive to improve the quality of life that we experience in our beloved homeland.
In this session, I offer comment on certain areas in our national life that directly impact on the quality of life in the nation.
It is generally acknowledged that in every society politics impacts directly on the quality of life. The Bahamas is no exception.
On May 2, 2007, as a result of strongly contested General Elections, a change of administration took place with a return to political power by the Free National Movement (FNM) under the leadership of the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham. On behalf of the Anglican Diocesan family, I offer congratulations to the Prime Minister and the members of Government and assure them of our prayerful support as they seek to develop our national patrimony for the benefit of all Bahamians. In particular, I applaud the new government’s promise to demonstrate transparency and accountability as priorities in all of its endeavours. This is indeed a highly commendable goal, and the church and the nation should support such lofty expectations.
Shortly after the General Elections, I issued a formal statement in which, inter alia, I commented on the inordinate role that financial contributions paid in the conduct of the campaign. There can be no doubt that this was the most expensive campaign in the history of elections in this country. I remain convinced that there is an urgent necessity for campaign finance reform so as to ensure that the spirit of universal adult suffrage might be preserved. If the ability to raise significant financial contributions continues as the determining factor in our elections, such a process will automatically exclude persons and parties who are unable to attract substantial funding. In such a situation democracy is seriously challenged. I also believe that relevant campaign finance reform should include setting of limits on individual contributions together with a compulsory declaration of candidates and parties stating the names of the donors and the amounts contributed. The public is entitled to such information and the principles of transparency and accountability demand it. All political parties should commit to support such reforms in the public interest.
Since the General Elections, political polarization has attained new and undesirable heights in our country poising a threat to the quality of life in the nation. Such polarization has the potential to intrude political allegiance into every aspect of life including the various institutions. There is ample evidence for the damage inflicted as a result of highly politically polarized societies in which allegiance to a political party becomes the most important element in any and every situation. It has become fashionable to describe such situations in terms of political tribalism. We do not need this in our Bahamaland, and I call upon the leadership of all political parties, including the majority and minority parties in Parliament to leave no stone unturned in the urgent quest to reduce the political temperature in the national interest.
Recently, in this highly polarized environment, we have witnessed charges and denials of political victimization in the public service of this country. While an objective and impartial assessment of the charges and rebuttals would provide some answers to the present questions as they relate to the treatment of certain public servants by the Government, what we desperately need, as part of our system of government is established legal provision to respond to the right of the ordinary citizen to seek redress from governmental action. The ordinary Bahamian cannot afford the expense of hiring a lawyer to seek such redress or to deal with public complaints about the quality of a myriad of services being delivered by the Government and its agents.
In Scandinavia, there is an institution called the Ombudsman. In France, there is the Administrative Court. These institutions have been traditionally deployed in their respective countries to better empower the citizenry in the face of large government. In 1967, the United Kingdom adopted the Scandinavian model. There are English speaking Caribbean and other countries in the Commonwealth which have embraced the use of the Ombudsman as a means of empowering the ordinary citizen. Both major political groups in the Bahamas, have at one time or another since 1992, promised to enact legislation establishing the Ombudsman. Unfortunately, such promised have not been kept. It is now time for the political groups to deliver on the promises to enact legislation establishing the Ombudsman. In the event that the legislation is enacted, there is hope that the politicization of the criticism of the workings of government entities would be depoliticized and the trend towards the politics of tribalism halted. Above all else, the enactment of such legislation would make ample provision for the empowerment of ordinary citizens and inevitably promote the public interest and the well being of all citizens. Meanwhile, as a nation, we should establish beyond any shadow of doubt that victimization, in any form, is unacceptable. In addition, the church and society at large should demand that our politicians of all persuasions, especially members of Parliament, display a level of maturity that promotes balanced pronouncements and a willingness to accept different perspectives without rancour or hatred. An improvement in the political domain will definitely produce an improvement in the quality of life in society
It is generally accepted that education impacts significantly on the quality of life in any society. It is also agreed that quality education automatically equips persons to enjoy a better quality of life. In the Bahamas, grave concern has been expressed over the quality of education offered in our public system. In 1994, the Consultative Committee on National Youth Development expressed this concern at page 46 of the report:
“The Committee considers that there is an urgent need to address the utility of the present educational system in the light of the following established facts:-
(a) low level of cognitive skills among a significant number of the students exposed to the system;
(b) high level of boredom among students;
(c) high level of absenteeism and truancy;
(d) a degree of frustration among teachers;
(e) the inordinate number of students who graduate in the present system as “unemployables” with low cognitive ability and no marketable skills;
(f) the absence of a national consensus on a relevant philosophy of education to undergird the system.”
Sadly to say, in the intervening years, we have not been able to notice any significant improvement in the overall situation.
During the past two months, grave concern has been expressed over the safety of the school environment in several of our New Providence schools. The issue quickly degenerated into a political debate focusing on the desirability of uniformed police offers on school campuses. The issue of providing a safe and secure environment must transcend mere political consideration. In fact, in 1994 the consultative Committee emphasized the importance of the school environment within the overall educational framework:
“The Committee also considers that the recent mammoth refurbishing of the physical educational plant must be accompanied by a thorough and exhaustive refurbishing of the internal school environment. Indeed, we do not hesitate to sate that the latter is more important than the former and must take precedence in a community that strives to place emphasis on “persons” over “things.” The internal environment is crucial for the development of the students and the teachers. A relevant school administration should seek to provide a framework that encourages teachers to “teach” and students to “learn” in a mutually supportive environment. The Committee is not convinced that sufficient attention is being paid to the creation of this crucial framework in the schools of the nation”
Unfortunately, the authorities have not paid sufficient attention to this important issue of providing a mutually supportive environment in our public schools. When we continue to ignore this issue, we short change our students and our teachers and delay the delivery of quality education.
National Consensus on Education
In light of a changing world, an ever evolving global market and the increasing use of technology we, as a nation, must broaden our view on Education, to understand that a good, well-rounded education involves more than achieving excellent National exam results. In order to help our students achieve at all levels, to be healthy, safe, and upon graduation make a positive contribution to the nation and achieve economic well-being, we must come to a National Consensus on Education. A holistic consensus where Education focuses on academic, technical and vocational courses, life and personal skills which will enable students to be effectively prepared for life through the education they receive.
Education – A National Priority
In the 1970s the Government of the Bahamas focused on promoting education making it a priority for the new nation. Education was deemed to be a major avenue for the development of the country. It was believed that in order to provide better lives for themselves, the people of the country needed a better education. Schools were built, the College of the Bahamas was established and many persons were recruited to become educators. All youth were given access to an education. We encouraged our youth to become lawyers, doctors, accountants, all fields needed to develop a young nation. Those who did not go on to tertiary education became bank tellers or worked in the hotel and tourism industry. But we failed to sufficiently emphasize the need for farmers, fishermen, mechanics, electricians, plumbers, tradesmen, industrial pioneers, manufacturers, etc. We created a nation of consumers and very few producers.
Education must once again become a National Priority. Over the past sixty years, a fundamental recasting of industry, employment, technology and society has transformed the requirement for education and training – not only driving the education system, but introducing new ideas about lifelong learning, personalized education, and self-directed learning. A National Vision for Education must be articulated by the Government and adopted by all. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). It is imperative that a “National Vision for Education” be developed and presented in a manner that we can all see it and want to become a part of it, to ensure its success. Steps should be taken at all levels and sectors of society to ensure that the Vision becomes a reality. Efforts should be put into research and development of programmes, projects and initiatives that will ensure that the Vision becomes a reality
The vision for education presented to the British Government in 2005 is worthy of note:-
“We believe that every young person has potential; that the job of our education system is to develop and extend that potential; that in doing so, education must concern itself most of all about the future of young people to achieve and it must prepare them for life and for work, equipping them with the skills that employers need…Our vision is therefore that our education system should provide every young person with a route to success in life through hard work and dedication.”
In this post-modern era individuals are interested in only what they perceive will benefit them. The question frequently asked is “what is in it for me?” This post-modern generation, who live in the here and now, will not be interested in anything, including education, unless they can see what immediate benefit it has for them. Until we convey the message to the individual that education is valuable to them as persons both now and for the future, we will be hitting our heads against a “brick wall”.
Once we have convinced the individual of the importance of education we will then begin to see progress and positive changes in our society. We will have a nation of thinkers, producers and innovators.
National Awareness Via The Media
The media is a very powerful tool that can be used to create a national awareness of the importance of Education. All sectors of the media can be used to educate as well as to promote education, to promote positive messages for and about youth. The media should be highlighting positive images of youth and broadcasting encouraging messages. The Consultative Committee on National Youth Development Report presented eleven (11) recommendations on the media (pages 74 and 75). I draw Synod’s attention to the second recommendation:
“The Bahamas Broadcasting Corporation place special emphasis on the production of appropriate youth programmes for television and radio.”
Here I would like to add that all media houses in the country also produce the appropriate and relevant youth programmes for youth and by youth. The Internet is also another media outlet that we must pay special attention to. More news and information travel via the internet on a minute by minute basis than television, radio or printed on paper.
Some of these recommendations have been implemented and we commend The Bahamas Broadcasting Corporation (ZNS) and Cable Bahamas (Bahamas Learning Channel) for their efforts to date, however it would be good to see more youth involved in the production of programmes for youth (both behind the scenes and in the forefront). Government is strongly urged to revisit the recommendations and make amendments to reflect the changes that have occurred in the past thirteen years. Above all else, the Government should do all in its power to encourage all sections of the public media to promote an awareness of the importance of education for national health and wholeness.
Teaching is a calling and not an easy one. It is one that calls for dedication, commitment and all out endeavour. Teaching calls for great love, love for the students in their care and love for the profession they have chosen. This noble profession comes with great responsibility as teachers hold the future of our nation in their hands.
Teachers should be role models for their students. Students watch and emulate what they see. If they see teachers disrespecting authority, they will disrespect authority. How can you expect respect from students if you fail to show respect for others? Respect is a two-way street, to gain respect you show respect: respect authority; be punctual; dress appropriately; speak properly and appropriately; work with administration not against them – students are very aware of your attitudes towards administration and if they see that you do not have any respect for them they will more than likely respond in a like manner not only to administration but to you as well. Teachers set the pace, they set the scene.
Teachers are also to be lifelong learners. Professional development should not be an option but mandatory for all in the school system, including administrators and ancillary staff. Educators should be kept abreast of the ‘best practices’ in education, the latest research on education and child development and pedagogical methods.
Scholarships for further education should be offered to those in the teaching profession who would like to specialize in the areas such as Special Education, Technical and Vocational courses. Incentives should be given to males to encourage more of them to become involved in the education system.
Professional counseling services should also be offered for teachers. There are teachers who, on a day to day basis, encounter situations that may contribute to the stress levels of the job.
While we applaud the Ministry of Education, The Bahamas Union of Teachers and other School Boards for their efforts in showing appreciation to teachers we must also find more tangible ways of showing this appreciation to those who continue to give dedicated service that goes above and beyond the call of the contract; those who spend endless hours working with and assisting students after school or on weekends, with no financial remuneration.
Parents and/or guardians are ultimately responsible for children, not the government, the church or the school. Parents’ aspirations for their children tend to be influenced and limited by their own experiences. Parents’ behaviour and values continue to be a strong influence on a teenager’s interests and goals, and their choice of friends who share their values and reinforce them. Research has shown that students whose parents are actively involved in their school life perform better than those whose parents are not. Parents/Guardians you must become actively involved in your child’s life, your child’s education. Ensure that your child goes to school prepared and equipped. Collect your child’s Report Card in a timely manner and attend Parent Teacher conferences, attend PTA meetings and become involved in events that take place in the school. Find wholesome activities for your child to be involved in out of school hours. If you need help do not be ashamed or afraid to ask for it.
In addition to the promotion of education as a national priority, I suggest six items for Government’s attention:
i. National Bonded Scholarships (fully funded) should be offered for tertiary and postgraduate education. These scholarships should not only be offered for academic excellence but also for excellence in technical and vocational areas, art, the performing arts, music, sports, culinary arts, etc. In turn the students upon the completion of their further education will be required to return to this country to share their expertise for the development of this nation.
ii. Begin a plan for free education at all levels including tertiary education. In Barbados, the economic cost of tertiary education for Barbadian students attending the University of the West Indies is paid by the Government of Barbados. In Trinidad and Tobago, the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses Programme (GATE) provides free tuition to all Trinidad and Tobago citizens who are pursuing undergraduate degrees at approved public and private tertiary level institutions, this includes local, regional and approved distance learning programmes. The Ministry of Education provides a Textbook Rental Programme for all Private and Public schools – Preschool, Primary, Secondary, Special Education, Technical and Vocational Training.
iii. Develop and implement a Five-Year Strategy for the development of Youth. The United States of America has implemented its “No Child Left Behind” programme and the Government United Kingdom has implemented its “Every Child Matters”. These countries saw that their education system was failing their youth and set in motion initiatives to reach set goals for the development of the youth of their nations. Significant amounts of the federal, state and local governments’ fiscal budgets have been allocated to research, development and implementation of these programmes.
iv. A concerted effort should be made for greater collaboration and cooperation between Government agencies/Ministries (Education, Health, Social Services, Agriculture and Marine Resources). In 1994, the Consultative Commission called for greater links between Guidance Counselors, School Social Workers and Attendance Officers. The education system now has more Guidance Counselors, thanks to the initiative by The College of the Bahamas and the Kent State University, Ohio, where the opportunity was afforded to those desiring to obtain a postgraduate degree in Guidance Counseling, but there is still a great need for more Social Workers and Educational Psychologists. The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources must increase their efforts in working with the Ministry of Education to have Agricultural Science and Marine Biology at a practical level in all of our schools. Practical experience in agriculture and fisheries should be taking place in all of our schools. North Andros High School can be used as a model where students grow fruit and vegetables to sell to local vendors and hotels. Assistance, financial and expertise should be given to schools desiring to set up Green House farming.
v. The evaluation and review of the curriculum offered in the schools should be an ongoing process and should not be done in isolation. The curriculum should reflect the National Vision for Education. The evaluation and revision of all areas of the curriculum – academic disciplines, technical and vocational subjects, sports, social development programmes/courses – should involve all of the stakeholders of Education, that is, the educators, future employers, parents, etc. Every child must leave the formal education system with a marketable skill, the desire for lifelong learning, and a determination to succeed/excel.
vi. We call on the Government to develop, fund, support and resource ‘National After School’ programmes or look again into an “Extended Day Programme”. Evidence shows that how a young person spends his/her leisure-time really matters. Participation in constructive leisure-time activities, particularly those that are sustained through the teenage years, can have a significant impact on young people’s resilience and outcomes in later life.
The Harvard Family Research Project give evidence that demonstrates that participation in positive activities can:
1. help to improve attitudes to, and engagement with, school;
2. build social and communication skills;
3. help young people avoid taking risks such as experimenting with drugs or being involved in anti-social behaviour or crime;
4. and improve their self-confidence and self-esteem.
In this country the ‘Uniformed’ organizations such as the Girl Guide Association, Boy Scouts, The Brigades, etc. have for many years instilled the characteristics and qualities we desire for all of our youth.
It is important for the Corporate/Business world to become more actively involved in the Education system in this country. This involvement can take many varied forms including time, talent and financial. Firstly, time, businesses can give the time of their employees to assist or help with after school programmes, in-school teaching, tutoring, mentoring, etc. Secondly, talent, there is so much knowledge in the business world that can be shared with our staff and students. With staff, businesses can host seminars, professional development workshops, give financial advice and so much more. For students, they can offer internships, apprenticeships and ‘vacation time’ employment to students interested in their fields. Thirdly, financially, businesses could give a part of their yearly budget to the sponsoring or development of educational initiatives, projects and programmes. They can adopt a school in their area and give financial or expert assistance to capital projects. The students in the schools are your future employees, would it not be to your benefit to ensure that they are receiving the type of education that will benefit your business in the future?
Anglican Diocese – Anglican Central Education Authority (Education Department)
Over the years we have held Conclaves and commissioned Task Forces to look at our education system. Many recommendations have been made and many recommendations have been implemented. As a result of the College of the Bahamas’ report, the ACEA now has a Vision for Education, a Mission Statement, A Philosophy of Education and Goals for Education. In compliance with the recommendations of the Task Force on Education all of our Anglican Schools now have School Boards and there has been more collaboration between staff within the system where conclaves were held with all subject departments in the secondary departments. In 2005 a Conclave on Education was held, and as a result the staff in the Education Department has been increased to ensure that the recommendations made can be properly researched and implemented. It has been recognized that there is a need to review and revise the purpose, role and function of the Anglican Central Education Authority in light of the implementation of the School Boards.
Charge To Synod
The Anglican Diocese will remain committed to and involved in Education as its principle outreach ministry. We therefore urge Synod to give its full support to the schools under the aegis of the Anglican Central Education Authority and the Education Department. There will be a Conclave on Education in November to evaluate the progress made on recommendations made in 2005 and to make further recommendations based on changes in the system, formulate a Five-Year Strategy Plan and devise ways and means to implement it.
We urge the Government of the Bahamas, in addition to issues raised in this section, to make good on its promise made in 1992 to pay the salaries of all trained, qualified teachers in the country. The ACEA complied with the requirement to have all of its teachers trained and offered financial assistance to members of staff who needed to obtain certification or degrees in Education.
Let us all play our part in taking education to a higher level as we together seek to promote a national consensus on education that makes education a national priority. In this regard, we will promote a national awareness; encourage others to recognize the importance of education and to respond in a more positive manner for the good of the nation.
(c) Crime and Violence
The escalation of crime and violence, including murders, has created a situation in which many members of the society are alarmed and afraid. For many persons, the quality of life has been drastically altered. For many, including the surviving family members of the victims of murder, the quality of life has been shattered. The present level of criminal activity in our country is unacceptable, and a strong public opinion must arise to combat this societal evil.
I had the opportunity to attend the recently held Assembly on crime hosted by the Ministry of National Security.
The Honourable Minister reiterated his Government’s commitment to partner with other stakeholders to put a lid on a situation that has already mushroomed out of proportion.
The most casual observer has to agree that crime is by far the single most serious issue impacting the quality of life for Bahamians and visitors alike today.
However, we must avoid the attraction of quick-fix solutions to this perennial vexing issue; bigger prisons, longer sentences, more police officers, resumption of hanging etc. The reality is that we have not just arrived where we are now overnight, and we will not move ahead in the right direction instantly either. Additionally, we have to stop treating the symptoms and deal squarely with the causes.
The truth is, the high level of criminal activity reflects a society that has lost its moral bearing. In the section on Mission and Ministry, I have drawn attention to the moral element in pastoral care. In this regard, the churches face an ongoing problem of narrowing the gap between profession and practice. Many members “talk the talk” but refuse to “walk the walk.” We have also allowed a sub culture to develop over the past five decades that conflicts with traditional Christian teaching and practice. We must return to the basic Christian values, for example, fidelity in marriage, respect for elders, good manners, extolling the virtue of hard work and a respect for decency, law and order, including the acceptance of the inherent worth and value of each human life. These are all values that are taught first of all in the home. We must redouble our efforts to improve the quality of home and family life. The battle for the family is a battle for the soul of the nation. I pose for you once again the question: “What kind of country do you wish to build?”
The society does not need a new set of laws on the books; it needs some citizens who would have the divine law imprinted on their hearts. We heed not only ‘hearers” of the Word but “doers” also.
I commend the police force for its valiant effort in detecting crime and bringing persons to justice, but the reality is that we make their job that much more difficult if we continue to produce criminals faster than they are taken off the streets.
We also applaud the bold initiative taken by the leadership of the prisons to reduce recidivism by their emphasis on rehabilitation.
We eagerly look forward to hearing further from the Government on the next step forward. In the meantime, we must work individually and through our various civic groups and all areas of civil society to reduce the scourge of crime. Our Diocese stands ready to cooperate as fully as possible. After all, we must build a country that is replete with opportunities to grow spiritually, socially and emotionally where the quality of life is enhanced for all.
(d) Health Insurance
The quality of life for thousands of Bahamians is significantly reduced by the lack of adequate health insurance coverage. These persons are denied access to the medical facilities available in the country because their financial situation does not provide sufficient funds to cover the necessary medial examinations and treatment. This situation is not unique to the Bahamas. Indeed, anyone who is vaguely familiar with the presidential campaign in the United States must be aware that the provision of health care has developed as a central issue for Democrats and Republicans. The situation in the United States presents a strange anomaly. On the one hand, the United States takes pride in possessing the most sophisticated accumulation of medical skills and facilities. On the other hand, millions of Americans are denied access due to the lack of medical insurance. In that system, the concept of universal health coverage is resisted on political and ideological grounds fuelled by powerful interest groups.
Here in the Bahamas, we are caught in a strange dilemma. After years of committees and reports, the Parliament of the Bahamas, by unanimously consent in each house of Parliament (House of Assembly and the Senate) passed into law the National Health Insurance Act which purported to make provision for universal medical coverage for all Bahamians. Despite this statutory provision, a strange silence exists on the future of universal medical care. It is time for the Government to break the silence on the issue and present the nation with its proposals for providing hope to the thousands of Bahamians who lack adequate insurance coverage. Most of the persons in this category are not interested in the politics associated with the concept; they are primarily concerned with the assurance that they will have access to appropriate medical care. In the national interest, let us provide a measure of hope for those persons whose quality of life is being negatively impacted by the lack of access to appropriate health care.
While my comments on the factors impacting the quality of life relate specifically to situation in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, the main thrust of these also applies to the situation in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
VI REST IN PEACE
We remember before God all members of Synod who died since our last session. In particular, we remember before God and record our thanks and appreciation for the ministry of the Rev’d. Canon Dudley Strachan.
Canon Strachan served the Diocese in the area of education and pastoral ministry. IN the field of education, he enjoyed a successful ministry as the principal of our oldest school, St. John’s College. In addition, he served as Director of Education for the Anglican Central Education Authority. His pastoral ministry was exercised mainly as Rector of Our Lady and St. Stephen Parish, Bimini, and St. George’s Parish, New Providence. Canon Strachan served with devotion and dedication; he will be missed not only by his widow and the members of his immediate family but by many persons in the Diocese.
Synod is invited to express its appreciation for the ministry of Canon Dudley Strachan and send greetings and a message of encouragement to Mrs. Strachan and the members of the Strachan family.
VII BISHOP MICHAEL ELDON
Across our Diocese, we continue to offer prayers for Bishop Eldon who has been in a comatose state for a prolonged period. We give thanks for the medical team and the other care givers who have done beyond the call of duty to ensure that the Bishop receives due care and attention on a daily basis. As we continue to pray for the Bishop, we also offer prayerful support to his sister, Dr. Keva Bethel, and the other members of her family during this most difficult period.
VIII APPRECIATION AND THANKS
On behalf of my wife and family, I also offer thanks and appreciation to all those persons who have offered prayers and support for my wife during her period of recuperation. We appreciation the many expressions of concern that have been offered both in the Bahamas and overseas, and we request your continued prayerful support for her as she continues along the path of recuperation.
(a) The Clergy
Once again, I express my great indebtedness to the Clergy of the Diocese for the support and encouragement they have given to my ministry as they continue to give pastoral leadership and direction in the parishes.
(b) The Archdeacons
I also express my tremendous indebtedness to the Archdeacons of our four Archdeaconries:-
i. The Northern Bahamas
ii. The West Central Bahamas
iii. The East Central Bahamas
iv. The Turks and Caicos and Southern Bahamas
I commend them for the leadership role they continue to provide in the Archdeaconries, and we encourage them to continue to strengthen the Archdiaconal Chapters and Councils.
(c) The Diocesan Office Staff
The staff at the Diocesan Office continues to offer faithful service, providing the ongoing administrative support for our diocesan operations. In expressing my thanks and appreciation, I remind the staff that in giving service they are engaging in a form of ministry for the building up of the Body of Christ.
I offer heartfelt thanks to Archdeacon Palacious for the efficient and diligent discharge of his administrative duties, and I also express appreciation for the assistance he has rendered me in the exercise of my ministry in this Diocese.
Father Colin Sunders continues to serve as Parish Priest at St. Ambrose and as the Diocesan Officer for Buildings and Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Buildings. We are truly grateful for the invaluable service he continues to offer the Diocese.
Mrs. Juanita Nairn-Grant, our Executive Secretary, continues to provide faithful, reliable and confidential support for which we are eternally grateful.
(d) Bishop Gilbert Thompson
I offer thanks and appreciation for the Episcopal assistance that Bishop continues to offer in the Diocese in his retirement.
(e) Bishop Coadjutor
Bishop Laish Boyd assumed full-time duties as Bishop Coadjutor in January. During this period, he has rendered invaluable assistance with parochial visitations and the administration of the Sacrament of Confirmation. He has begun to experience the heavy demands of travel within the various islands of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
I offer sincere thanks for the Episcopal assistance that Bishop Boyd has rendered, and I look forward to the development of our partnership in ministry as I prepare for my final year as Diocesan Bishop and Archbishop.
(f) My Family
I continue to express my indebtedness to my wife and the members of my family for their untiring support and encouragement for my ministry despite my frequent period of absence in the discharge of my various obligations.
My brothers in the episcopate, brothers and sisters of the House of Clergy, sisters and brothers of the House of the Laity, let us go forward together to participate with zeal and enthusiasm in God’s mission for his Church and world. Let us take comfort from St. Paul’s admonition to the Church at Galatia, “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10)
22nd October, 2007