After a day of marathon voting in the highly anticipated election for a Bishop to replace the retired Dr John Holder, no clear winner has emerged with the Anglican Church clearly divided over youthful candidate Rev John Rogers, 45, rector of St George Parish Church and his senior Dr Jeffrey Gibson, 61, Dean of The Cathedral of St Michael’s and All Angels.
Even before the formal announcement was made by the Diocesan Administrator Canon Wayne Isaacs, Barbados TODAY was able to get verbal confirmation of the result from several insiders who said Synod had been adjourned until a later date.
Today’s balloting exercise which took place at the Ivan Harewood Complex, Christ Church Parish Centre, began just after noon and involved four rounds of voting which ended just before 11 p.m.
When the voting began this afternoon, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity had four candidates from whom to choose – Canon Noel Burke, 60, rector of St David’s Anglican Church; Rev Dr Monrelle Williams, 64; Gibson and Rogers.
By the end of the second round of balloting, it was clear that the two houses were split over who to choose as Bishop with Gibson garnering the majority of the votes from the clergy (39) and Rogers the majority from the laity (50) with the other two candidates fading early in the polls.
By round three they were therefore down to two, with reports indicating that the two houses were each backing a different candidate, with Rogers continuing to find strong favour among the laity (with 55 votes) and Gibson seeming to be the preferred choice of the clergy with (46).
However to be elected Bishop they need 51 votes from the clergy and 53 from the laity which is why the battle for the leadership of the church went well into the night.
At the end of round four there was still no clear determination as to who should lead the Anglican flock.
However, reports were that while Rogers’ support increased in both houses, Gibsons’ had declined.
Even before the voting began, parishioners were expressing their views on the kind of leader they wanted.
While they would not single out any of the candidates, it was evident that many, including Shakeem Howell, a member of the St Peter Deanery Youth Council and Deanery representative, were hoping for someone who is youthful and energetic, or someone who will focus on the young people.
“My Bishop should really focus on putting his energies towards the youth within our church and the Sunday school . . . because at the rate when I look around, we have an ageing population within our churches and we would like a little more stability within our churches for our young people,” Howell said.
Similar sentiments were shared by Movelle Jordan, who not only suggested that the church needed a revival, but someone “from among the youth” to breathe new life into the local Anglican faith.
“The Anglican Church need a bit of reviving . . . and to bring somebody more youthful from among the youth and encourage them to come back to church. And I think they are looking for someone to rejuvenate the Anglican Church, to bring new life and new ideas. I think that is what is needed at the moment in the Anglican Church,” Jordan contended.
She was supported by Margaret King, who would “like to see someone who is young that can bring in the young people into the church cause the young people right now, they are not coming especially in the Anglican churches in Bridgetown”.
“When I was growing up, they had a lot of young people in the church but now they are gone. So we need somebody who can bring them back . . . we know they can come back . . . so someone younger would be wonderful,” King said.
However, for elderly member Gloria Oxley, all that is needed is “a good Bishop” who “loves the Lord and one that loves the congregation and preach nice to the congregation”.
Today’s series of events began at 9 a.m. with a service celebrating of the Holy Eucharist at the Christ Church Parish Church, where the celebrant, Canon Isaacs, implored the clergy and laity who packed the historic church to focus on the plight of the poor, dispossessed and those living on the fringes of the society.
“When we engage in evangelism, we must have options for the poor, the dispossessed . . . those who are on the fringes of society,” Isaacs said, adding that the mission of the church was to bring hope to people through the spreading of the good news of the gospel of Christ.
He also told the congregation, which included the outgoing Bishop Dr John Holder, that evangelism was an obligation, not an option.
The 91-member House of Clergy is made up of all the priests from the Anglican churches in Barbados, while the 84-member House of Laity is made up of two representatives of Synod from each of the Anglican churches.