Rector of the St Thomas Parish Church Reverend Dr. Michael Clarke is tipped to take over in two months as the principal of the Codrington College, replacing Rev Dr. Ian Rock.
This follows a decision of the Codrington Trust, comprising Archbishop Dr John Holder and other senior clergy and laity of the Providence of the West Indies, not to renew Rock’s $10,000 per month contract, which expires at the end of July.
Clarke, 56, has been credited with the introduction of cutting edge technology at St Thomas, where services are streamed live every Sunday morning.
He has also been very outspoken on the need for the church to urgently re-examine its message and its relationship with the community in light of recent developments which suggest that “certain things have gone unchecked”.
“We have held places like the Church off limits in many regards, but the fact is the Church is a part of the community and if the community is sick the sickness will come to the Church,” he warned in an interview with Barbados TODAY following the discovery of a gun at a funeral last month.
“Any time those kinds of things can happen it means that we are losing sense of, or have lost sense of, who we are as individuals. And once you have lost sense of who you are as individuals or a part of the human family, it is a sickness.
“It is a spiritual sickness, but it is a sickness nonetheless,” he emphasized, “and we have to be aware of that”.
Clarke, who is very passionate about the need for the Church to begin to look at the kind of ministry that it is offering to our community” and to move away from the whole “archaic” idea of focusing on people getting to heaven, takes over from Rock, a fellow alumni of Harrison College, who is one year his senior and who had replaced Canon Noel F. Titus in 2006 as principal, after acting in the post for two years.
Over the course of the last decade, Rock has developed new academic courses and programmes at the theological seminary and has been praised for bringing a sound management approach to the College’s training programme.
It was not immediately clear what his next assignment would be, although sources close to the outgoing principal said he was likely to focus on his writing at the end of a challenging tenure at the College, where some had openly taken issue with his leadership style .
The latest changes come on the heels of recent shifts within the local Anglican diocese and will result in a vacancy at St Thomas, after the church’s former curate Reverend Jerome Small was recently re-assigned as priest-in-charge to St Philip-The-Less in St Peter.
Formerly affiliated with the Durham University, Codrington College, located in College Land, St John, is the oldest Anglican seminary in the western hemisphere and the oldest degree granting institution in the Commonwealth Caribbean.
It was built in 1743 after Christopher Codrington bequeathed the estate at his death in 1710 to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and requested the establishment of the College.
Most Caribbean Anglican priests were trained at Codrington and the College continues to play an active part in education and theology, working closely with the University of the West Indies.