Recognition Service to mark my Election as the 13th Archbishop of the Province of the West Indies

In the Cathedral of St Jago de la Vega, on October 10, 2019

Let us pray.

Almighty God, in every age you have called out men and women to be your faithful servants.  We believe you have now called us to join that great company who seek to follow you.  Grant unto us today and always a clear vision of your call and strength to fulfill the ministry assigned to us.  We pray in the name of Christ.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10 – Jeremiah’s Call and Commission

My sisters and brothers in Christ, I bid you welcome to this service of worship in this our beloved Cathedral, which is a Provincial celebration, hosted by this diocese, and attended by bishops, clergy and laity from within the Province and beyond.

As a diocese we have been observing a season of intentional discipleship in concert with the rest of the Province and the Anglican Communion, during which we have heard much about discipleship.  We have explored the call of the first disciples of Jesus as a paradigm of the call to discipleship in subsequent ages, and we have been reminded of our understanding of discipleship as that which begins with our baptism in Christ and affirmed in our Confirmation and active participation in the sacramental life of the church and her mission.

The Provincial Synod meeting in May in Trinidad and Tobago adopted an Action Plan which is intended to guide our reflection and action in advancing the call to discipleship among our membership by focusing on five areas:

  1. Equipping our youth for Discipleship
  2. The exercise of discipleship within the family
  3. Discipleship within the Multicultural society
  4. Discipleship in an era of moral indifference
  5. The Church’s role in developing models for Christian discipleship

Ben Campbell Johnson in his book, Hearing God’s Call, reminds us that both ordained and lay persons experience the call of God in Jesus Christ to discipleship, and that this call has a powerful hold on the one God calls.  He expresses it this way:

A call from God has the power of a conviction that it is not our work alone but is something both intended and empowered by God. ( Page ix)

At the same time, there is that call to positions of lay or pastoral leadership which comes to various individuals in the exercise to their discipleship. 

In the contemporary publication Emotional Intelligence for Religious Leaders, the authors West, Oswald and Guzman, speak of the concept of calling in this way:

“Religious leaders have a unique understanding of what it feels like to have a “calling from God”.  A calling is a phenomenon experienced by those who feel an intense, persistent, divinely inspired compulsion to live in service to others as their long-term profession.  It is defined as “the unmistakable conviction an individual possesses that God wants him [or her] to do a specific task.”

I have been led to choose as the focus for this address the theme which was chosen for our last Provincial Synod, held in May in the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago, “Being disciples in our Caribbean Context: Called, Empowered, Sent.”  This theme has informed the Action Plan which is intended to provide the trajectory which will guide the mission and ministry of the various dioceses as together we bear witness as disciples of Jesus Christ in these Caribbean lands over the next three years.   At the same time, it is self-evident that this service brings to the fore the issue of leadership and oversight in the exercise of discipleship within the Province. By virtue of the honour and responsibility placed upon me by the archiepiscopal office I now hold, I am called to a life of shared leadership among my peers of the House of Bishops, the other clergy, and the faithful of the laity within the Province.  So today, I address you as one who stands within the community of those called to discipleship by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Instances of God’s call to men and women to discipleship and leadership as contained in the Scriptures are many and varied and, it is difficult to make a selection of a single text which captures the entire range, depth, and scope of God’s call to persons, and the ongoing call to discipleship which comes to us through our Lord Jesus Christ.  I have been led to this text from Jeremiah as it captures so many of the features which are present in the call to a variety of roles and ministries, and serves to explicate the Provincial focus on discipleship within the context of our Caribbean reality.

Not much is revealed in the biblical text about Jeremiah’s life prior to his call by God. This I believe is significant because, in looking at many of the biblical figures who are called of the Father and of our Lord Jesus Christ, we see persons who have been pursuing life as they have scripted it, when God seems to enter in a way that disturbs and unsettles their scripted pathway. Lacking that insight into the life of young Jeremiah, we note nonetheless that the call comes to him in an apparently unexpected moment – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”  It is as if Jeremiah finds himself at a place at which he has no wiggle room. God has been intimately involved and sharing in scripting his life in ways which preceded his sense of consciousness of himself as a person.  So Jeremiah experiences this sense of disturbance and seeks to argue his way out of it.

Jeremiah draws on his arsenal of excuses – “I do not know how to speak, I am only a boy”.  He perceives that the call of God has an unsettling impact on one’s life, not confirmation of one’s choices and the path one has plotted for his [her] life.  It is a call to risk and adventure, but not a life of recklessness. The protestation of being only a boy may be a reference to the expectation of enjoying all of the joys of adventure and youth before settling down to mature and responsible living, a protestations which is probably not restricted to youth in any era, and which no doubt informs the first element of our Action Plan – Discipleship of Youth.

So, Jeremiah’s experience is not unlike the response of Moses who advances his lack of eloquence and slow stammering speech as reasons for rejecting his call to leadership of the mission of God for the liberation of the children of Israel in Exodus 4.

But it is not just an issue for figures in the Old Testament.  One commentator offers a very interesting reflection on the gospel reading for this service by highlighting Peter as the singular actor, apart from Jesus, and who typifies the resistance to the call of God in Jesus Christ which we have been observing.  In this brief narrative he identifies resonance between Simon’s resistance to the call of Jesus and that of Moses, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. Simon objects first to Jesus’ command to go out to the deep water, but then he does as he was told to do.  Further, his exclamation that Jesus should depart from him because of his being a sinful man, is a common biblical motif for a person to feel unworthy in the presence of the divine, as was evident in the call of the prophet Isaiah. 

From these cursory observations of the initial responses of individuals to the call of God, I would like to frame our reflection on this aspect of our theme as Call and Resistance: Narrative and Counter-Narrative

It is part of the reality of life that, as we make our transition from childhood to adulthood, we begin to write and project a narrative of our personal life as an expression of our sense of value, worth, purpose and meaning in life.  This may find expression in terms of our vocational choice, our aspirations for our family, the determination of the marks of success, and that which gives ultimate meaning to our life.

In pursuing this vision or narrative of our life, God’s call in Jesus Christ may come to us as the challenge of an alternative narrative – the call to discipleship.  Confronted by the gap between the narrative option to which the divine call beckons us and that which we would write for ourselves, we experience a sense of anguish, which may lead to rejection, or acceptance. The call to intentional discipleship which is a renewing of the basic call which inheres in our baptism, and which invites us to live this alternative narrative, is rejected by many who find it an inconvenience, choosing instead to pursue their own scripted narrative of life.  Occasionally, however, like Paul, it takes a life shattering/changing experience to bring the call before an individual and to get a positive response.

The call to intentional discipleship is rejected by many comfortable Christians at an individual as well as the congregational level.  Let us not be deceived, every congregation has a narrative of itself, and some find the renewed call of God in Jesus Christ to faithful, intentional discipleship in today’s context, an inconvenience, preferring to live in the past with an inherited narrative lacking in relevance to the contemporary context.

So, I would pose the question for all of us this afternoon, what does the call of God in Jesus Christ to intentional discipleship mean to you at this point in your life?  What may it mean to your congregation as well?  Would it disrupt the script or narrative of life which you are not prepared to surrender?

At the same time it is easy to develop a distorted notion of the call to discipleship restricting it to activity, and so I would ask us to consider the fact that because our God is personal, the Call of God is a call to Relationship.  What may have been evident to Jeremiah from the outset is that the call of God is also coming as an invitation into a relationship that is personal and intimate, and which may be experienced as awesome and intimidating.  It recalls for us the experience of the Psalmist in Psalm 139, who finds the intimate and pre-existing knowledge and relationship with God overwhelming and who declares:

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

Discipleship is about an ongoing relationship with Jesus and not just one for moments of crisis or lurking needDiscipleship is grounded in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and from which relationship derives the commitment and imperative to share the story and our testimony as a way of discipling others for Jesus Christ. 

Sherry Weddell, that prolific writer on Christian discipleship makes it clear that without this relationship with Jesus we have nothing to share with others, the very thing which underlies Marks 1 and 2 of the Marks of Mission of the Anglican Communion:

“Transmitting the faith is an organic, whole-person, whole-life concept that goes beyond instruction in facts or doctrine.  What is not believed or lived cannot be transmitted… The Gospel can only be transmitted on the basis of “being” with Jesus and living with Jesus the experience of the Father, in the Spirit; and, in a corresponding way, of “feeling” compelled to proclaim and share what is lived as a good and something positive and beautiful.

… we can’t successfully transmit the relationship at the center of the faith unless we ourselves consciously participate in that relationship.”

However, the relational dimension of Christian discipleship is not just with God in Jesus Christ.  It involves participation in the life of the community of faith. Johnson and McDonald in their text, Imagining a Church in the Spirit: A Task for Mainline Congregations, make the following bold assertion:

It is true that Christ dwells in each of us, but not all of Christ lives in any one of us.  Because of this, the fullness of Christ can only be known in community. 

St. Paul develops in various sections of his epistles the image of the church as a body, and makes it clear that it cannot function without the contribution of every member.  When members of the community engage in ministry together, community solidifies.  It is as disciples participate in the life of the church that they are fed, nurtured and challenged through hearing the Word of God proclaimed and in sharing in the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

The exercise of mission and the discipling of others arise within the context and experience of community.  Hence Johnson and McDonald add:

For mission to be effective, it must be grounded in a living community… When a community alive to the Spirit of Christ gathers, amazing things happen; the deaf hear, the blind see, and the dead are raised up – transformations that do not go unnoticed by the general populace”.

So the call of God is to a relationship with Himself in Jesus Christ and with those who are of the community of faith. 

Unlike the flow of the Synod theme which suggests a clearly demarcated sequence of call, empowerment and sending, in the case of Jeremiah the sending or mission is announced in the same breath as the call and expression of the relationship with God are introduced.  So Jeremiah is being told that from the time of conception he has been earmarked and called to be a prophet. In this light I would like to rework the Provincial Theme at this point to read:

Call, Empowering and Sending: Interlocking Realities

So the call comes to Jeremiah to be a prophet.  One of the things of which we cannot be unmindful at this point is that there was an institutional religious establishment at the time of his call, no doubt concerned with the temple, the religious functionaries, the rituals, the attendant codes and laws, the obligations for the maintenance of the institutional fabric, and no doubt characterized by cultural accommodation to the status quo of the day. 

But what does it mean to be a prophet in this kind of context? There is an early tradition of prophets known as seers who were seen as possessing the spirit of God and thus enabled to interpret signs, usually arising out of an ecstatic experience, and after which they would declare the will of God to God’s people.  The later prophetic tradition as emerged in the time of Jeremiah is one in which the prophet would make pronouncements in the name of God regarding the punishment of Israel for its sin and infidelity; the political situation; the compromising expressions of their religious faith tradition and practice; social injustices; the oppression of the poor by the wealthy and the powerful; and a predictive element which pointed to consequences in the future for inaction and moral and religious re-alignment.  It should not surprise us that this understanding of prophecy developed during the period of settled living in Israel with urbanization, kingship, the emergence of economic prosperity for some, the emergence of a ruling class, and alliances of various institutions, administrative, military and religious, to create the operative status quo.

It is into this kind of context that Jeremiah is being called upon to be the prophet for the moment.  It may have been reassuring, if not re-affirming to hear the initial greeting from God that he has consecrated him from before he was born, as what could follow could be the promise of blessing and all his dreams being fulfilled.    But then, God drops the challenge when He mentions the word “prophet”.

“I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Then follows immediately the protestation:

“Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.”

What you are talking about, God, is a man’s job, and not just any man at that.  So I do not qualify.  I wonder if this line of excuse resonates with any of the young persons gathered in this cathedral this afternoon?

The response which follows from God is one which lays a foundation for empowerment as authorization and relationship.

“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
says the Lord.”

There is a re-enforcement of the mission on which he is being sent and the introduction of those words of comfort which recur repeatedly in encounters with the divine and the divine messengers throughout the Old and New Testaments – “do not be afraid”, and which are followed by a reassuring promise – “I am with you to deliver you”. 

There is hardly a divine call to a person to a particular mission in the Old Testament which does not include an expression of fear at the awesome nature of the task to which one is being called, and which is not accompanied by the words of assurance “do not be afraid”.  The same is true in the New Testament from the moment of the annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, through the call of Jesus to his disciples, the resurrection appearances, the Great Commission, and the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit with the church in the Acts of the Apostles in face of threats and opposition.    

For Jeremiah to undertake this mission as a prophet is to accept a mission of confronting the power structures of the day.  The power structures of society have operated with similar dynamics throughout the ages in spite of the millennium, century, or national contexts.   Gathered in this Cathedral is the leadership of the Church in the Province of the West Indies, and who I believe are called to be the agents of God to represent the church in speaking truth to power in today’s Caribbean as contemporary expressions of the prophetic call and ministry.  Indeed, the Provincial Canons express it this way:

The House of Bishops shall in addition to its other functions be obligated to give expression to the Pastoral and Prophetic Ministry of the Church.

The biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann sheds some light on this dynamic, even though culturally bound in some ways. He advances the notion that public power is everywhere wielded and administered by those with concentrations of wealth, who control the supply of money, legislation, and who support military strength and activities.  The exercise of power and the advancement of what is regarded as public truth is achieved through an alliance of state, corporate structures and institutions.  This alliance functions to maintain truth that reflects status quo power.  That exercise of power and truth claims a preeminence that is not easily challenged.  In the mission to which Jeremiah is being called, there is the implicit mandate to engage and challenge this claim to power and truth implicit in the status quo.

Herein lies the fear of Jeremiah.  He sees himself being called to stand before Goliath while having the stature of a boy.  The enormity of the task is spelt out further:

10 See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

This is not a call to preoccupation with the religious liturgy, ritual and matters confined to that space called “the spiritual” or the temple and its maintenance. So, those in contemporary society who believe that the Church of God is about entertainment, emotional highs, and prosperity, better go back again and engage the Scriptures of the faith.  And those who believe that the Judeo-Christian tradition has nothing to do with matters of state, including politics, economics, social justice and freedom, do not know the tradition.  These are those who seem to believe in the privatization of religious beliefs and expression and would confine religion to “quarantine”. It is this aspect of the increasing pluralistic and secular nature of our Caribbean region that the Provincial Action Plan also calls us to address.  The call and mission entrusted to Jeremiah is to engage, challenge and confront rulers, institutions, and power structures, and the assumptions and values which underlay their modus operandi.

At no point does it involve a call to use the methods and tools of those who control the power and truth of the status quo.  Here Brueggemann speaks of a counter truth and narrative which has the potential to undercut the official truth and power.  He argues that there are versions of truth which arise from below and have a potency of their own. These versions of truth are close to actual concrete and actual lived experience of the powerless, and contain a subversive potential and create bewilderment for the establishment. 

Jeremiah having embarked subsequently on the mission to which God called him, there is that ironic scene in which power responds to truth from below, as the king with disdain takes his knife and cuts in pieces the scroll on which the message of Jeremiah is written and throws it in the fire as each section is read to him.  How dare Jeremiah pronounce such words against his rule and the fortunes of his kingdom!  And yet, in a twist of irony, by his actions he is actually acting out his own future and destiny which ends with his demise.

There are those who hold the view that the mission of the church is to exercise charity, and which finds expression in terms of giving out free things to people in need, a position echoed and usually supported by those who control power in the society.  In this light we are truly the church when we run soup kitchens, distribute clothes, and offer food packages to the needy.  But let us step back from time to time and get some perspective on this approach.  Charity of this nature can be dehumanizing of persons, maintain the status quo, and do nothing to challenge and change the structures of governance and social organization which contribute to their poverty and its maintenance. To move beyond a limited understanding of poverty is to earn the label of ‘socialist’ or ‘communist’ from those who control or benefit from the power and truth of the status quo.

Contrary to being just an antagonistic relationship, the engagement of power and truth of the establishment, in dialogue with truth from below, can be a creative and transformative experience for the society. A few months ago, at the launch of the book “Journey to the Promised Land” Theological Reflections by Neville W. deSouza on Jamaica’s Journey, and which I edited, the Rev. Dr. Garnett Roper, President of the Jamaica Theological Seminary, in highlighting the significance of the contribution of the late Bishop, drawing on insights from the work of American, Richard John Neuhaus, and Caribbean theologian, Rev Dr. Burchell Taylor, underscored the thesis of the public square as morally empty. It is in part a protest against the rigid separation of church and state in national affairs, arguing that this would result in the death of democracy. Roper underscored the point that the public square ought to be occupied by competing moral visions of faith, non-faith, or other faith communities. The faith of persons and communities must be more compellingly related to the public arena. “The naked public square”–which results from the exclusion of popular values from the public forum – will almost certainly result in the death of democracy.  Here then is the warning of the danger inherent in the vacuum that will arise should the Church avoid or be excluded from the public square in our Caribbean national and regional discourses.

We live in a world in which democracy has been hailed as the highest form of governance in the ‘civilized world’, and we in Jamaica can be proud of our history of the exercise of this form of governance since the inception of universal adult suffrage, a situation which generally characterizes our Caribbean region. Nevertheless, there are ominous signs emerging in our world indicating how the democratic system can be manipulated by individual leaders and power interests to undermine democratic rule.  In this regard we must identify with the outcry against the proposed, and now withdrawn legislative change by our government, that would make public access to Cabinet papers increased from the current timeframe of 20 years to 70 years, effectively removing access to every citizen within his or her lifetime.  We in Jamaica are famous for discounting the potential of certain global trends to impact us, whether of global financial crisis or other external factors.  Let us not assume that we are immune as Caribbean peoples from these emerging threats to our democracy.

In this light the church and her leaders are called to speak on the growing inequality and other issues of social justice and the marginalization of people, cognizant of the fact that our political culture is one which has been dividing our people along partisan political lines, making of the other an enemy and all who would speak on issues of national concern an enemy of one side or the other.  As leaders of the church in this Caribbean region, we should not allow ourselves to become captives of such distortions of our Westminster model of governance.  Neither should we compromise ourselves by parading our personal partisan views as representative of the mind of God when we speak. So, my brothers and sisters in advancing the Five Marks of Mission of the Anglican Commuion we must:

  • Highlight how poverty and the widening inequality in a society weakens the life of the entire society and undermines social cohesion, promotes instability, crime and corruption.
  • While we understand that the pursuit of economic prosperity must be a common national objective, we must also take cognizance of whose voice is being heard, and whose is being ignored or silenced, or who is being left behind or excluded from sharing the prosperity of the land and nation.
  • We must address the low wages being paid to significant numbers of those employed in the institutions and organization now driving the employment statistics, as well as the lack of job security and social benefits through a system of contract work.
  • We can take no consolation in recently published Government statistics regarding the performance of the economy which revealed a 2 percent increase in the number of those living below the poverty line in our country.
  • We must express our concern about the absence of any clear policy regarding food security and the protection of our limited fertile land from conversion to residential and commercial development, as well as the unsatisfactory resolution of environmental concerns regarding the definition of the protected Cockpit Country and its potential degradation.  The protracted drought of this year followed by unprecedented rainfall should be an object lesson for all who want to see and learn. As the old folks would say, “we take sleep mark death”.
  • We must let our voices be heard regarding the pervasive culture of corruption and the apparent ineffectiveness and inability of the Integrity Commission, to gain the confidence of the population in face of multiple blatant displays of corruption that have come to the fore in recent time.
  • We must keep focusing on the murder statistics, crime and violence which have taken centre stage in the life of most Jamaicans. Recognizing at the same time that there seems to be a fallacy that if, we get crime under control by whatever means and the economy to its strongest level, while ignoring the moral underbelly of our society, the vision for this nation will be realized.  There are fundamental questions regarding the value of human life, what is valued in life, and the failure to build social cohesion leading to this prevailing culture of death.  The late Bishop Neville deSouza captured this destructive channel of human expression this way:

“…as long as injustice and inequity and exploitation remain, as long as a man may work for his whole life and, yet, die almost as he was born, as long as he has no hope, so long will he have no love for that society, so long will he seek to destroy it because he sees it as belonging to others”.

The prophetic voice is not a voice of perfection, neither is it a voice only of morality.  It involves:

  • Advocacy and education
  • Hospitality for victims
  • At times it may involve the mobilization of people in the face of social injustice or violation of the created order/environment, consistent with our 5th Mark of Mission. 

Paying careful attention to the text you will see that the outcome of the exercise of the prophetic calling of Jeremiah is ultimately that of a creative and transformed reality for the kingdoms. So the prophet is, “to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow”, and ultimately “to build and to plant.”  So Jeremiah, as the mission is unraveled, is not the enemy, notwithstanding the labels that have been placed on him, the threats to his life, the exclusion which he faces from the religious cultus, and those who make up the status quo.  He is ultimately for the good of the nation.  So later he becomes the herald of hope for a despairing and hopeless nation who finds itself in exile because of the bad choices that have been made by leadership and people alike.

Because the mission is not Jeremiah’s personal escapade, he goes with the word of promise and empowering from God. So, Jeremiah speaks not on his own authority, giving expression to his pet peeve or agenda, but on the authority of the Lord.  It means a setting aside of the ego. This finds its parallel in the articulation by St. Paul: “I, yet not I, but Christ … in me” (Gal. 2:20).

“I am with you to deliver you,
says the Lord.”

And which finds further expression in the symbolic act and language:

“Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,

“Now I have put my words in your mouth”.

This symbolic act pointed to that understanding of the prophet as the mouthpiece for God.  The mouth being touched points to the purity of that mouth and what comes forth from it.  The connection between the mouth of the prophet as the effective vehicle of the word of God recalls the connection between the word of God spoken at creation and which brings into effect whatever it declares. So, the word of God in the case of Jeremiah would be filled with divine energy and accomplish the task for which God sent it, bringing its own fulfillment.

In the Epistle reading for this service from 1 Corinthians 9, St. Paul speaks of a similar obligation and imperative to speak the word from the Lord, not to those who exercise power in the nation but, so that those outside of the community of faith may hear the good news of the gospel – “Woe to me if I do not speak the gospel!”  In so doing he is not only demonstrating his obedience to the call of God on his life but also exercising the ministry of discipling others so that they too may come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Here we come face to face with the call to every disciple of Jesus Christ, and for which we have been empowered by the gift of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1: 8 our risen Lord, prior to his Ascension, made this promise of empowerment to his disciples:

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

 As a faithful and intentional disciple, Paul hopes that others might share the benefits of a relationship with Christ. His words suggest that disciples of Jesus actually want to understand what matters to those who are not in such a relationship. Seeing those outside of the faith as human beings created and beloved by God, Paul wants to lead them to a place where they can accept and affirm that status in Jesus Christ, and for Paul, there is a sense of urgency to this task of discipling others.

Like the religious establishment of Jeremiah’s day we can become prisoners to our concern with the things that make for the maintenance of the institutional life of the church – the temple, the religious functionaries, the rituals, the attendant codes and laws, the obligations for the maintenance of the institutional fabric, and no doubt accommodation to the status quo of the day – and lose sight of the missional dimension to our call to discipleship. So, we must be ever open to the call of Jesus Christ and the vision of where the Spirit of God is leading us in fulfillment of our mission as intentional disciples of Jesus Christ.

So, the missional dimension to the life of the church, the community of disciples, is not just about institutional maintenance or activism, neither is it to confine our mission to playing God and condemning those who we deem the sinners and lost ones in society, and which, incidentally,  is having the result of turning off more and more persons from the faith to which we adhere, but as portrayed by St. Paul, a call to discernment and to assist persons to address in life-giving ways the deep questions of human existence.  God is active in our world constantly revealing Himself and engaging and challenging the faithful to new adventures and opening up new opportunities for witnessing to the gospel.

Marva Dawn and Eugene Peterson, remind us that there are some fundamental longings of the human soul which persist even in today’s world, which must constitute the core of our mission as intentional disciples of Jesus Christ.  They express the search and longings of the soul of each human being this way:

  • The search for identity, asking “Who am I?” 
  • The search for a narrative that helps makes sense and meaning of one’s life.
  • The search for love, connection and solutions to the lonely yearning of the spirit.
  • The search for values by which to live.
  • The search to find a way to cope with and survive the exercise of power by those so endowed and the chaos of the world.
  • The search for meaning and purpose for one’s life. 
  • The search for hope and the courage to go on.    

The gospel of Jesus Christ addresses these issues for persons in every age.  Disciples are called to engage the present through a process of discernment and looking towards the future with God in Jesus Christ in the exercise of mission and the discipling of others. It is with this conviction that the Provincial Synod through a process of discernment has offered to the Dioceses an Action Plan which calls each Diocese to explore through a renewed sense of awareness as intentional disciples, new avenues and expressions of mission and ministry to which God in Jesus Christ may be pointing us and which are appropriate and relevant to today’s Caribbean reality.

It is my prayer that as Bishops, priests, deacons, commissioned lay workers and leaders, and all the faithful, we will work together for the fulfillment of our collective mission and ministry as those who are Called, Empowered and Sent by God in Jesus Christ.