The public display of disunity within the Anglican Church over the past four months has been shameful to say the least.
It is one thing to compete passionately for a position, but quite another for a race to select of all people a Bishop of Barbados, to degenerate into what has sounded at times more like a bar brawl between non-believers who know no better than to shout and accost each other, than a group of believers whose singular mission in life should be to advance the mission and work of Christ and to do so lovingly, gently even, but not while seemingly driven by hate or spite.
However, such has been the level of nastiness that has been at play in the current race to select a new leader of the Anglican Church of Barbados, never mind what Canon Wayne Isaacs had to say last night at the end of the latest inconclusive round of voting.
While the goodly canon would have us all believe that the current infighting is par for course and that as far as he is concerned, “I don’t think it says anything bad about the church because it is all part of the process of electing a bishop”, it certainly does not look good from where we stand.
That a Christian vote could be so filled with rancour and dissent and that the clergy and the people cannot agree on a suitable candidate is telling enough that the voice of the people, is certainly not viewed by the clergy as the voice of God, or even vice versa, otherwise the choice of a Bishop of Barbados would be a no brainer.
Instead, we have been treated to all kinds of excuses to do with age, lineage and bloodlines. Ironically, nothing about religious preparation or divinity.
To make matters worse, with the eyes of the world on the Church neither of the two forerunners appeared willing to back down at any stage if only for the sake of their vulnerable religious institution which no longer boasts of its historical prowess and significance within a society that is already steeped in the economic abyss, with its social structures not trailing far behind.
Still, there is a high expectation when it comes to the Church. We expect our priests to act and behave as if they were God-like, or, at the very least, to mimic the forgiving and peace loving ways of the eternal Saviour who teaches us in Luke 6:29 to love our enemies and certainly “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you”.
Furthermore, “if someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone takes your cloak, do not withhold your tunic as well. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what is yours, do not demand it back”.
But that the Anglican Church has failed not once, not twice. but four times over the same number of months to agree on a leader, with that choice now to be made by the House of Bishops, is a sad reflection on the current state of the domestic institution.
It also means that there is every possibility that neither of the two forerunners would be considered, and for the second time, Barbados will be forced to look outside its shores for an Anglican head.
Unfortunate indeed! And ironical! For before their very eyes the words of the very Jesus they ought to represent would be manifested: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12). Or, appropriately, as in Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
We would have wished that our ears could not hear the ugly and angry words that reverberated out of the Ivan Harewood Centre, where the Elective Synod would have met on four occasions since April to choose a new leader of the Church.
We would have also wished not to receive the sinful emails filled with trite too scurrilous for publication.
But alas! What is done is already done. We are simply aghast!
And to think that the main purveyors of the poisonous darts were mostly senior members of the clergy, who really ought to know better, and in some cases ought to quietly exit the scene.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and to lose his soul?
It begs the question, after this race, what? Wherefore the Anglican Church and its leadership in this society when all would have heard enough to conclude that the Church is itself bitterly divided and knows not how to resolve its own problems, so how can it mentor members of the society in resolving theirs?
Our hope is that the Church will be able to recover from this sordid episode, and that it has not been driven to the tomb of Lazarus by this unfortunate chapter.
If it were, however, we pray that those behind such butchery of the soul of the local Anglican Church, will find it in their hearts to repentantly turn to the Lord and plead for a Lazarus-style miracle. But let’s not forget that before He brought Lazarus back to life, as John 11:35 says, Jesus wept. How he must be weeping for our Church today!