Hundreds of Barbadians gathered in the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium to witness the final act of Archbishop of The West Indies Reverend John Holder at the annual Diocesan Service on Sunday.
Holder became the 13th Bishop of Barbados in March 2000 when Rufus Broome retired. Then on December 10, 2009, he became the Archbishop of the Providence of The West Indies – a title which he has held for the last nine years.
At the five-hour service, members of Dioceses in and around the Providence of the West Indies paid tribute to the Archbishop, describing his ministry as one which touched the lives of many, not only in Barbados but worldwide.
Bishop of Belize Reverend Phillip Wright said that Holder’s retirement was an occasion of celebration all across the region, as he has done a splendid job in his life of service.
“There is a sense of delight and appreciation that extends well beyond the stretches of this island to register the heartfelt congratulations and wishes of those touched in one way or another by the ministry of Archbishop John Holder over these many years,” Wright said.
“Someone once said accountants don’t retire, they just lose their balance; bank managers don’t retire, they just lose interest; golfers never retire, they just lose their drive. So, what can be said about a retired bishop? Bishops don’t retire, they are greeted with the words ‘long time, no see’,” he joked, evoking laughter from the packed congregation.
In his sermon taken from Matthew Chapter 9, Wright spoke about the transfiguration of Christ to the disciples and what it means for Christians as they embark on stewardship.
He addressed the issue of leadership, noting that it was more than replacing an individual in the church with another, but rather was about counting and carrying out discipleship.
Wright also noted that to be a leader a person must adhere to the principles of honesty, decency, integrity, justice, equality and compassion.
“[One] must be driven by core values and core beliefs and convictions about what constitutes right from wrong, truth from falsehood, honour from squalor and selfishness from greed. Indeed, it is the sort of leadership that shows intolerance for all these things which work against the call for human dignity and human progress,” he added.
Holder, in his closing remarks, thanked the Diocese and the Synod for all the events they had planned in the last two weeks to celebrate his retirement, and for their commitment to the Anglican faith during the 17 years he served as Bishop of Barbados.
He also reflected on his tenure, noting that he had seen a positive development and growth in the Anglican faith.
“I have witnessed this Diocese move along a path of positive development and growth; even if sometimes it seemed as if it was moving at snail’s pace, it was moving. In this context, my ministry demanded a level of understanding and a depth of patience and more patience which are critical for leadership at any level,” he said.
Holder also noted that his ministry allowed him to assist with the management of the Anglican body which had over 85 million members.
“I was humbled by this experience, being aware that I could make a difference in the spiritual development of someone in Sudan, Jerusalem or South Africa or in Fiji. I treated the wisdom and experience to which I had access through my ministry as Bishop and Archbishop,” he said.