Reverend Reginald Knight made a return to the Anglican pulpit for the first time in over three months, after enduring suspension from pastoral duties over an examinations scandal at the Barbados Community College (BCC), ending what he has described as a “dark period” in his life.
But a cloud of uncertainty still hovers over the former ethics teacher’s future at the St Peter Parish Church, as he awaits a final word from Bishop of Barbados Michael Maxwell about his tenure.
On Sunday, to the pleasant surprise of churchgoers, Reverend Knight arrived in pastoral robes to assist retried priest Rev Keith Griffith in the 7:30 a.m. service and later to lead the 9:15 a.m. Sung Eucharist.
Knight’s troubles began in May this year when the part-time tutor was accused of leaking the questions and answers for a final exam to students of his Ethics and
Citizenship class, forcing the Howell’s Cross Road, Ivy, St Michael institution to reschedule the test.
Days later, Reverend Knight penned a letter of apology to the principal and deputy principal before resigning. In late July the Anglican Church barred him from pastoral duties for three months, during which he was to undergo a period of reflection, along with personal and professional development, guided by a senior clergyman. That period ended on October 31.
“It is good to be back with the congregation that I have served for the past almost three years,” he told Barbados TODAY after receiving hugs, kisses, and words of encouragement from members.
“This congregation has been extremely supportive during a period, which I considered a period of darkness. I am in a good place right now.
“People go through challenges in life and not one of us is immune to challenges or as one member of the congregation said to me ‘not one of us is immune to trials and tribulations’. As Christian priests, we too have our shortcomings. That said, it has been very good this morning to reconnect with this congregation, to which I continue to feel a sense of belonging,” he added.
During his 20-minute sermon, Reverend Knight expressed concern about the church’s approach to numerous issues affecting society and asked the congregation to remember that the church is a place where persons should find a sense of comfort and belonging.
He was critical of Christians who are swift to criticize those among them who are experiencing trials in their own lives.
“There are times when we as Christians suffer from amnesia and memory loss, forgetting who we are and whose we are and how we are to behave to each other. We too, become vicious and mean towards each other especially in another brother or sister’s darkest moments.
The cleric later explained that although on vacation, he was filling in at the request of the church’s rector, Canon Peter Haynes who is also on leave.
And while acknowledging he was “pretty much back to work”, Knight hinted that Bishop Maxwell would make certain decisions about his future.
“I am a priest and will always be an ordained priest. The period of suspension has concluded but I am on holiday. I intend to remain on holiday and the Bishop will decide where I go from here,” Knight told
Barbados TODAY after the second Sunday service.
When contacted early last month Bishop Maxwell declined to comment on the matter until he received reports from those who were assigned to counsel Reverend Knight.
“Once these reports have been reviewed, we will then consider the issuing of a statement to the press” said Bishop Maxwell.
Since then, numerous calls and messages to him have gone unanswered.
Amid the uncertainty, members of the St. Peter Parish Church who spoke with Barbados TODAY indicated they were elated to be reunited with their assistant reverend.
“I’m happy to have him back and I don’t focus on history,” said church warden Gay Griffith, who indicated he did not know all of the facts of Reverend Knight’s case.
Quoting a New Testament Bible Verse he added: “‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful.’…So if there is an opportunity for him to have a second chance, I welcome that.”
Sherryl Bishop admitted she also knew very little about the facts but said: “It takes a big man to get up and say he is sorry. We are supposed to be forgiving and try to move on.”
Another member, who did not want to be identified asked: “Who am I to judge? He who is without sin, cast the first stone. We were taught that Jesus’ blood can heal the vilest sinner. If Rev Knight’s calling is to be a shepherd leading the flock, so be it. That is between him and God.”
When questioned about his future as an educator, Reverend Knight did not rule out a return to the classroom, but said his focus right now is on ministry to the church.
“I have not looked at that yet in terms of the future, but I see myself as still having something to offer in the area of education and therefore I would not pull up stumps on that and say that is all finished. But at this point, my focus is on my ministry,” he said.