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REV. FRIDAY – FIRST VINCENTIAN BISHOP OF THE WINDWARD ISLANDS

REV. FRIDAY – FIRST VINCENTIAN BISHOP OF THE WINDWARD ISLANDS

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It is written! The Right Reverend Calvert Leopold Friday’s name is indelibly etched in the history books of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as the first Vincentian to be ordained Bishop of the Windward Islands in the Anglican Church.

His consecration and enthronement were held last Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 March 2006 respectively at the St. George’s Cathedral in Kingstown. Both days saw every pew in the church filled with clergymen, parliamentarians, worshippers and persons who just wanted to be a part of history. {{more}}

The Eucharist of Consecration was presided over by Archbishop of the West Indies, the Most Reverend Drexel Gomez, with assistance from fourteen other Bishops from the Province of the West Indies.

Reverend Isaac Phillip, serving in the Diocese of the North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba, delivered the consecration sermon on Saturday. He made it clear to Rev. Friday that as Bishop, he would have a significant role to play in the development of the Church, and must be the voice of the voiceless. Bishop Friday was told that he should pay attention to his role as a community worker, community builder and community organizer.

The need for the 48-year-old Bishop Friday to build strong relationships with his clergy was a focal point of Father Phillip’s sermon. The newly elected Bishop was advised to be “faithful and a caring pastor to all your people and especially your clergy.”

The dynamic preacher revealed that a “vocal cross section of the clergy” in the Province of the West Indies had “no great confidence in experiencing and perceiving the ministry of our Bishops in nurturing and affirming ways.” He said they were disappointed about how the Bishops touch their lives and felt it was “a dangerous thing to fall into the hands of a living Bishop.”

He therefore challenged Bishop Friday to build strong pastoral links with all his people especially his clergy. He noted that the new bishop should have “loving and nurturing hands”, and cultivate and practise the constraining love of Christ, for without that he might find his Diocesan clergy thinning out considerably both in terms of quantity and quality.

“If clergy find the space in which they are ministering constantly contracting theologically, those who need space to be thoughtful, to be critical, to be creative and responsive to ongoing changes, they will move on. And by and large those who stay around more often than not, will be the ones whose theological thinking has already found its limitations and so they find no difficulty operating in an atmosphere of continued theological abstraction. This is not good for the church,” Father Phillip stated.

He also remarked that an important aspect of ministry has to deal with development and strengthening of Christian care, Christian nurture, Christian support and Christian affirmation. “Let no opportunity evade you to demonstrate your commitment to do what our church is called to do which is to serve and care for the people of God,” preached Phillip.

Reference was also made to the fact that the Anglican Communion has been wrestling with issues surrounding human sexuality, gender orientation or preference and how such issues touch on suitability for leadership in the church.

The following day, Sunday, the church was again packed from end to end, top to bottom, as persons gathered to witness Bishop Friday’s enthronement and hear him deliver his first sermon as Bishop.

When he took the pulpit, the church leader, standing over six feet tall, spoke with conviction: “We must be ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us.” He told the congregation that the church is not called to follow its own agenda but to follow the ways and purposes of God.

The timing of his sermon could not come at a more appropriate time as Bishop Friday tackled issues such as human sexuality, violence, drug trafficking, CSME, crime, poverty, family life and HIV/AIDS. He advised that the church cannot close its eyes to today’s realities. The community of disciples or followers should be engaged in community activities so as to properly address the reality of our time.

The drop of a pin could be heard as the congregation gave their undivided attention to the words of their new Bishop.

The deep-voiced Friday stated that the church is a not a party seeking exercise of political power or a commercial enterprise promoting a product or a pressure group advocating one or more causes; rather the Church must be focused on enacting its identity in Christ.

Young persons were told that “you are not the church of tomorrow but the church of today.” He said the church must nurture discipleship among the young people, and encouraged the youth to stand under the cross of God and exercise great faith.

Following the enthronement service, the new Bishop followed custom and blessed the city of Kingstown. The scene that followed this was reminiscent of Bible stories of Jesus blessing the multitudes. Hundreds lined up to await their turn to receive a blessing from Bishop Friday.

The Diocese of the Windward Islands was established as a separate diocese in 1927. Bishop Friday will serve as the fourteenth Bishop of the Windward Islands, succeeding Bishop Sehon Goodridge who resigned last year.

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