Anglican priest Charles Morris is defending the decision to place the election of the next Bishop of Barbados in the hands of the House of Bishops, the highest decision-making body of the Anglican Church in the Province of the West Indies.
After 11 ballots in four attempts to elect a replacement for the retired Dr John Holder, the elective synod last night decided to pass on the task of choosing a leader for this island’s largest religious denomination to the House of Bishops.
Morris, who has openly supported the 61-year-old Dean of the Cathedral of St Michael and All Angels, Dr Jeffrey Gibson, over the 45-year-old Rector of St George Parish Church, Reverend John Rogers, told Barbados TODAY he was not bothered by the reality that both candidates would likely be excluded altogether.
“I voted for the option of going to the House of Bishops because we were doing the same thing over and over and we came back with the same result,” Morris said.
“People must understand that going to the House of Bishops is part of the process of the election of a bishop. I don’t think that the synod should be chastized for not electing a bishop,” he added.
During a heated meeting at the Ivan Harewood Centre last night, neither Gibson, nor Rogers, secured the required two-thirds support among the clergy and laity to fill the top leadership position in the church.
Faced with the alternatives of having a select committee make the decision or setting another date for another round of votes, the quorum opted to take the decision out of local hands. The development opens up the possibility of there being a non-Barbadian bishop at the helm of the local Anglican Church.
However, Morris argued that parishioners had no reason to be concerned about a non-Barbadian bishop, as the spiritual leader’s responsibilities extended beyond these shores.
He also pointed that Barbadians had served as bishop in other territories.
“We have to stop this foolishness about being scared of somebody else being here as a bishop. We are the Church of the Province of the West Indies and therefore, leadership can come from anywhere within that region. If we have to get some person from the Province of the West Indies there should be no problem with that whatsoever.
“We are not bringing in a foreigner, and it is time that we get rid of those insular positions. We are one happy family. The other thing is that we have Barbadians who have been bishop in other places. We had Peter Fenty who was the Bishop of Canada, we had a Barbadian who was the Bishop of the Windward Islands. So we have to really get rid of that entire mindset,” Morris argued.
Speaking to reporters after last night’s unsuccessful vote, Canon Wayne Isaacs explained that it took only one round of voting before members finally came to the conclusion that no clear winner would emerge.
“After the first ballot nobody received the required votes, then the synod adopted a motion to send it to the House of Bishops to make the appointment,” he said, adding that he did not think “either of the two candidates would be eligible because normally they [The House of Bishops] will not choose anybody that was nominated before”.
Isaacs, who revealed that 152 people were present for the vote, also contended that the development should not be seen as disunity within the church, but rather God’s will being carried out.
“I see it from the perspective that God’s will be done in every situation. So, I don’t feel dejected by it because we have been praying for it for a long time and I think we have to accept it as God’s plan for us at this time.
“I don’t think it says anything bad about the church because it is all part of the process of electing a bishop. There are different options and this just happens to be the option that the diocese chose,” he stressed.
While the actual breakdown of the vote was not divulged, Isaacs revealed that just as it was in the previous votes, the laity showed an overwhelming preference for the younger Rogers, while the clergy strongly supported the more senior Gibson.