An appreciative audience gathered at the United Theological College of the West Indies on June 18, for the launch of a publication containing Synod Charges by the Rt. Rev. Neville deSouza, the 12th Bishop of Jamaica who served from 1979 – 2000.
Titled, “Journey to the Promised Land” Theological Reflections by Neville W. deSouza on Jamaica’s Journey, the publication features Charges delivered between 1980 and 2000; and it is edited by Archbishop Howard Gregory.
Guest Speaker at the launch was the Rev. Dr Garnett Roper, President of the Jamaica Theological Seminary, who noted that the work represents the late Bishop as prophet, scholar, prelate and pastor. He framed his remarks around a statement by retired Baptist pastor and theologian, the Rev. Dr Burchell Taylor, that the “public square is morally empty.” However, Rev. Dr Roper noted that this was not so during the tenure of the outspoken Bishop deSouza whose Synod Charges, in particular, addressed issues which, although often controversial, related to critical aspects of national life.
“What often pre-dominates in the church nowadays is, instead of being prophets, we have put in its place roles such as entertainers and fundraisers. This has caused the public square to be morally naked in our time,” the Rev. Dr Roper asserted.
In the Prologue, retired University Professor, Patrick Bryan, said the “Bishop’s Charges were a militant effort to understand the social, racial, economic, political and cultural understanding of Jamaican society, and to identify the role of religious institutions in Caribbean Society”.
The publication is the brainchild of Archbishop Gregory, who, in a thoughtful Introduction, places the themes of the Synod Charges in a national context. He notes that “The Bishop was not just an iconoclast or idealist as he addressed himself to concrete issues and situations which confront the people of the nation in their daily life and especially the marginalized”.
The book was produced by Ian Randle Publishers with financial support from the JN Foundation, and is available from Church House.