Newly named as Anglican Bishop of Barbados, Reverend Michael Maxwell has been urged not to resign from his position as an Independent Senator.
The call came from several of his colleagues in the Upper House today, including President of the Senate Sir Richard Cheltenham and Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn, as they congratulated him on his elevation to the head of the former state church.
Maxwell had signalled his intention to discuss his position with Governor General Dame Sandra Mason before making a decision on his future in the Upper Chamber.
The 47-year-old Rector of Holy Trinity Church was chosen by the House of Bishops in the Church of the Province of the West Indies last Friday to head the island’s largest religious denomination. This follows months of deadlock as the Anglican Synod could not choose one of two contenders.
But, while praising his achievement during the first sitting of Senate since his appointment, Sir Richard told Maxwell he believed he would better serve his country while continuing as a Senator.
He said that although Maxwell was coming into his religious office at a challenging time, his role as a Senator would allow him to address critical issues at a national level.
“He comes into office at a time when the country is facing many crises, including the financial and economic ones of which we are all aware of. Of greater importance in my view is the crisis of values which we are experiencing.
“Bishop, you have an opportunity to fill a gap; the voice of the church, and provide a message that is uplifting, inspiring and relevant. I hear that you are considering whether or not to resign from the Senate and I urge you not to do so, for this is one of the many platforms that you have for delivering the church’s message,” Sir Richard said.
“We value and enjoy your company and so do not lightly decide to leave us.”
In his brief congratulatory message, Senator Franklyn also encouraged Senator Maxwell to stay on.
“We are fully constituted as the Lord Temporal and the Lord Spiritual. We now have the spiritual aspect… and I pray that the good Senator would see it fit to stay among us, because although I only met him six months ago, I have been impressed by him so far and I would like to continue to be impressed by him,” Franklyn said.
“I don’t want to put too much pressure on him, but I hope that he stays among us for the duration.”
In thanking his colleagues, Senator Maxwell said he would need more time before making a decision
“At this stage I cannot tell you yet. I know that you are praying that it is possible so I can stay on, but I am going to need a little bit more time to think about it, but I will be willing and ready and if God desires me to continue I will indeed continue to serve.
“It has been a pleasure serving you thus far,” Maxwell said.
He said while he never imagined he would have become a Senator, he believed God put him in that position to prepare him for his role as an Anglican Bishop.
“Becoming a Senator was nothing I dreamt of and nothing I aspired to be in this island of ours. Not that I wouldn’t want to serve our nation of course, but to this high level I never expected that such a calling would come my way.
“But it is pretty much unfolding now as to why I would have been called by Her Excellency to serve in this capacity, because maybe God was preparing me for yet another step to be taken in my life and so even though I might not have understood it then, I am believing that the picture is now becoming a little more clearer for me, recognizing that the Bishop has to be in touch at the national level with what is going on, especially as it relates to offering guidance and responding to certain issues affecting our people,” he declared.