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Tensions In St. Agnes Anglican Church Bahamas

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Archbishop Drexel Gomez said on Tuesday that he is "considering" transferring the leaders of the church to other parishes, but he said it is a matter that he intends to address in private

Tensions In St. Agnes






By Candia Dames


Nassau, Bahamas

5 October 2005






Tension between clergymen at the historic St. Agnes Anglican Church is reportedly growing, leaving some parishioners in a state of confusion over the future of the parish and its leaders.


Archbishop Drexel Gomez said on Tuesday that he is "considering" transferring the leaders of the church to other parishes, but he said it is a matter that he intends to address in private.


"This is now under review," Archbishop Gomez told The Bahama Journal.


"It’s an internal matter."


He said he plans to speak in more detail about the issue at the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum.


Asked whether he wanted to say anything to parishioners who are concerned about the matter, the archbishop said he had already spoken to the congregation.


His comments came on the same day a letter to the editor written by Assistant Rector Father Rodney A. Burrows was published. In it, Father Burrows says, "It is admitted that there are differences of opinion which have to be resolved for the benefit of the Anglican Church and the community as a whole."


He says it would be "defamatory, false and misleading" to suggest that the clergymen are being ‘fired’.


Following a recent tabloid article, he said he is concerned about his name.


"People are calling me, family members and people who have known me over many years, who are asking what’s going on," Father Burrows said in an interview with The Bahama Journal on Tuesday. "It’s a cause for concern and I am not at all happy with my name appearing in the newspaper saying the bishop has fired three Revs. "


He declined to say specifically what has led to these "differences of opinions."


But he said the archbishop has already addressed the congregation on the matter and has informed that he plans to move him and Father Mervin Johnson, the other assistant rector, and eventually the rector.


"He has already announced that it’s his intension to move the clergy, starting with the assistants and then the rector," Father Burrows said.


Asked whether he wants to be transferred, he said, "I would have no problem moving from St. Agnes. I’m a priest and wherever I am sent I am prepared to serve."


It is understood that Father Burrows, who has been at the parish for the past eight years, is at this time having rocky relations with Father Patrick Johnson, the rector who was appointed after the death of Archdeacon William Thompson.


Father Burrows has reportedly accused Father Johnson of wrongdoing.


One parishioner who spoke with The Bahama Journal on Tuesday said parishioners are anxious to know what is going on.


"They’re only getting grape vine stories," he said. "It has been evident when you see how the clergy [interact] during service [that something is not right].


Anyone familiar with Anglican worship can tell what’s going on.


"People are pained to go to communion which means so much because the persons administering it are at odds."


The parishioner said he has stopped taking communion at St. Agnes.


Asked whether he would like to continue working with the present rector or go to another church, Father Burrows said, "I don’t want to answer that at this time. The bishop is in charge of St. Agnes Church like the other Anglican churches."


Father Burrows was also asked to describe his relationship with the rector and the other assistant rector.


"I could only go with what the bishop said," he responded. "He said that the relationship between the clergy is tense."


Asked what message this statement may send to the parishioners, Father Burrows said, "Naturally it has its own conclusions."


He said that he hadn’t heard of any parishioners making the decision to stop going to communion, but he did say, "I’m sure there are parishioners concerned because they’ve concluded that all is not well. If all is not well with the clergy then I’m sure it’s cause for concern."


Father Burrows added, "It’s not a proper state for the church to be in."


While not giving details, he said the real issue is ‘why’ the clergymen are not getting along, but he added, "I don’t want to say at this time."


St. Agnes is considered to be the most active church in the local Anglican diocese and many parishioners are finding it quite unsettling that the priests are bickering among themselves.


Some of them have said that the archbishop needs to move speedily to address the problem before it creates any further fallout. But when he spoke with The Bahama Journal on Tuesday, Archbishop Gomez gave no indication of when he plans to make a decision on whether to go through with the transfer of the rector and the assistant rectors.


Father Patrick Johnson could not be reached for comment up to press time last night.


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