The Cathedral Church of St Michael and All Angels, mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Barbados, is establishing a think-tank as it moves to expand its contribution to national debate on important issues, boost its social outreach and add a modern dimension to its longstanding ministry.
In an announcement to coincide with the first anniversary of his installation as Dean and Rector, Dr Jeffrey Gibson said the St Michael Centre for Faith and Action will bring an Anglican understanding of the Christian faith to bear on its analysis, commentary and perspective on issues affecting Barbadian society and related public policy.
“Barbadian society, the Caribbean, and wider world are going through a period of unprecedented change which often can be quite intimidating and confusing to the average person. The Cathedral is known for its rich tradition of empowering Barbadians through its contribution to public education and understanding over the years. The St Michael Centre will build on this rich tradition but take a modern approach that will always be grounded in and guided by our understanding of the Christian faith,” he said.
The St Michael Centre is scheduled for a mid-year launch.
Think-tanks of this kind are quite common, especially in developed countries, and play an important role in public debate and the development of public policy by drawing on the specialized knowledge of experts in various fields, engaging in research and presenting the findings for public consideration in various formats including lectures, published reports and online forums.
A steering committee, chaired by Reverend Gibson and comprising accomplished professionals from various disciplines, has held three brainstorming sessions so far to come up with a structure and initial work programme for the centre which will be formally registered as a charity.
This public education and social outreach initiative comes against the backdrop of increasing calls by Barbadians for the church to provide a voice of reason in debate on national issues.
Reverend Gibson said while the centre will inevitably speak to political issues from time to time, it will be strictly non-partisan in keeping with the neutrality of the Anglican Church.
“The centre will aim to be a sobering voice of reason amidst the rancour which so often characterizes public debate. It will refer to the teachings of the Gospels and the social teachings of the Church as the basis for discerning what would be Jesus’ position were he with us today in the flesh and had to speak to the various issues, as we seek to be a beacon of Christ’s presence in the community,” Reverend Gibson said.