Nine months after John Holder retired as the Anglican Bishop of Barbados, the island’s largest religious denomination has been presented with a new leader.
Rev Michael Bruce St. John Maxwell, 47, Rector of Holy Trinity and an Independent Senator was this evening named as the new head, chosen by the House of Bishops to lead the Anglican flock.
Maxwell, whose name was not among the original five suggested back in April, was the pick of the House of Bishops, called in to resolve the months-long matter that pitted the Elective Synod, made up of priests, and the Laity, the elected church officials, against each other over who should be the next leader. The two church bodies failed to find common ground even following four meetings and 11 ballots.
The decision by the synod to place the final selection in the hands of the high-ranking House of Bishops from across the diocese of the West Indies, came in late July when during a heated meeting at the Christ Church Parish Church, neither the Dean of the Cathedral of St Michael and All Angels, Dr Jeffrey Gibson, nor the Rector of St George Parish Church, Reverend John Rogers, secured the required two-thirds majority support among the clergy and laity to fill the position.
The two were the only nominees on the ballot for Bishop.
When contacted tonight, Rev Gibson congratulated his new leader.
“I take this opportunity to congratulate Father Michael Maxwell on the occasion of his appointment as Bishop of Barbados and wish him well and assure him of my prayers and best wishes for a fruitful ministry,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Rev Rogers also pledged his backing for the new Bishop.
“From hearing the news, I made a call to Senator Maxwell seeking to congratulate him on his appointment. I got his machine, but I did leave the message, and pledged my support and the support of the Rural Deanery of St John and wished him all the best in his episcopacy,” said Rev Rogers.
Official sources said the new bishop, a Lodge School scholar, was likely to be installed some time early next year.
Efforts to reach him tonight proved futile.
The night the elective synod gave up on trying to choose a new leader, it was faced with the alternatives of either having a select committee make the decision or setting another date for another round of votes.
However, the quorum opted to take the decision out of local hands altogether, which virtually ruled out either Gibson, 61, or Rogers, 45, for the post.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting back in July, Diocesan Administrator Canon Wayne Isaacs explained that it took only one round of voting for members to come to the conclusion that no clear winner would emerge.
Isaacs, who revealed that 152 persons were present for that meeting, also contended that the development should not be seen as disunity within the church but rather God’s will being carried out by the church.
“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,” he said.
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.
On June 4, Rev Maxwell was among six Independent Senators sworn in by Governor General Dame Sandra Mason.
He is married to Dawn Holder-Maxwell. They have two sons, Michael and Christopher.