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The Diocese of Jamaica
A Short Account of Its History, Growth and Organisation

By J.B. Ellis, M.A.

London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1913.

Chapter XII.

IN making the summary contained in the previous chapter it was necessary to anticipate the order of events so as to give a more or less complete view of the Canons as a whole. It is, of course, understood that they did not begin life full-grown. They have been amended and added to as experience showed the necessity of amendment or addition. In some instances the example of other disestablished Churches was taken advantage of: in other instances other dioceses have borrowed from the experience gathered in Jamaica. To give a detailed account of the gradual growth of any one Canon would be both wearisome and unprofitable. It would be in some cases to rake up the ashes of questions which once were burning but which are now burnt out; in other cases it would be to draw attention to tentative and provisional measures which later legislation has strengthened and completed. Further reference will be made to some of the Canons as parts of the working machinery of the Church of to-day.

I propose now to return to the Episcopate of Bishop Courtenay. The fact has already been mentioned that between the years 1866 and 1870, when disestablishment was both threatened and expected, and when there was a degree of uncertainty as to how far it would be accompanied by disendowment, the number of State-paid clergy had shrunk from ninety-two to fifty-five. These figures alone are sufficient to give us some idea of the difficulties that had to be faced; it was impossible to start any new work or to continue any advance on that which had been made since emancipation, little more than thirty years before. The trouble was to continue the existing work and to prevent any leakage from what had been done since 1837. Growth and extension must wait their time. It is true that the Church had buildings here and there throughout the Diocese; but congregations needed the ministrations of the clergy, and more urgent still was the need of missionary work among the unreached African population. The first step was the temporary combination of neighbouring churches under one clergyman. This was done at the cost of a good deal of self-denial on the part of the clergy, most of whom were happily young and vigorous and enthusiastic to make the best of the new order of things. The help of laymen too was willingly given in many parishes.

It was also felt that for central Church purposes, such as the provision of the Bishop's stipend and the general sustentation of Church work, an appeal for help in the early days of disestablishment might reasonably be made to English societies and friends, and that such an appeal would be cordially responded to. Nor did the result disappoint these expectations. Friends and societies came forward with liberal donations, which were sufficient to encourage the newly-organised Church. Some remarks in this connection from a sermon preached by the late Archdeacon Campbell at the opening service of the second Synod of 1870 will bear quotation:--

"Let me assure you," said the Archdeacon, "as one of your deputation to the Church and people of England, that the success which God has given to our efforts has depended, humanly speaking, on these two things:--First, that we were able to show that under the unprecedented difficulty of our sudden disestablishment, the Bishop and Synod had acted with Christian wisdom and catholic consistency, and next that most of our congregations had begun, in a spirit oi holy forethought, self-denial and liberality, to contribute to a central fund for the permanent endowment of the future voluntary Church. Had we been compelled to speak on either of these matters with doubtful mind or hesitating tongue, we should have come back to you with shame and disappointment, to tell you that there is no sympathy in England for any daughter-church unfaithful to its inherited constitution, no help for congregations who are unwilling to help themselves."

Perhaps this is the most suitable place in which to say a few words on the connection of the Colonial and Continental Church Society with Jamaica. Before disestablishment this Society had helped to maintain Church of England schools, but had decided to make no additional grants, believing that the Jamaica Government would make sufficient provision for elementary education. In 1870, partly induced thereto by the late Rev. C. D. Marston, of St. Paul's, Onslow Square, a Jamaican by birth, the Society added Jamaica to its list of Colonial Dioceses, and has since that date regularly contributed towards the maintenance of four or five, and sometimes more, clergy. The Society's grants, being supplementary to voluntary offer, ings, have enabled the Church to continue her work in many a poor parish which otherwise could not possibly be self-supporting. The grants are not necessarily made to places, but to clergy, approved of both by the Society and by the Bishop, who can be transferred to other districts if their services are required without the grant lapsing; while on the other hand, in case of a parish beoming self-supporting, the grant can be transferred to a clergyman working in a district where it is more urgently needed. The continued and substantial interest taken by the Colonial and Continental Society in Jamaica has been of invaluable service, both in ordinary times and in times of crisis and disaster. Thus in 1897, when it was in contemplation that the grant should be annually reduced, with a view to gradual and complete withdrawal, the Society, bearing in mind the commercial depression then existing in Jamaica, agreed not merely to continue but to increase its help. So also in more recent years (1903 and 1907) special grants were made to meet urgent needs of clergy who had suffered by hurricane and earthquake. Neither the amount of the grant nor the proportion in which it is distributed is anything like enough to dispense with voluntary effort, but both are sufficient to enable work to be carried on and to prevent either individual distress or congregational collapse. The list of clergy who have been on the Society's list since 1870 is a very long one, but as most of them are still living and working I do not insert their names here.

Gradually vacancies in the clergy list were refilled, till, in less than ten years from Disestablishment, the number of clergy had increased from fifty-five to seventy-five, of whom as many as forty-four were on the staff of the disestablished Church, supported and maintained by voluntary contributions. Meanwhile other changes were taking place. Bishop Spencer died at Torquay in 1872, sixteen years after retiring from the active supervision of the diocese. Dr. Courtenay, retaining the title of Bishop of Kingston, continued, with the approval of Synod, to discharge the duties of his office in Jamaica. The British Government had in 1868 decided to withdraw, as occasion offered, the grants made in 1824 for the maintenance of an Episcopal Establishment. This withdrawal, as far as Bishop Spencer was concerned (though Bishop Courtenay unsuccessfully protested against it) took place on his death in 1872. Thus early the disendowed Church had to face what must always be one of the initial difficulties of such a body: namely, the due financial provision for its episcopate. In 1879 Bishop Courtenay retired, after twenty-six years' service in Jamaica, though he nominally retained his archdeaconry until his death, at the age of ninety-three, on the 13th of April, 1goG. [As a curiosity, probably unique in the annals of episcopacy, it is worth putting on record here that, in the year 1900 when 87 years of age, Bishop Courtenay re-published under the title of "The Great Awakening" the most important parts of a larger book which he had written and published fifty-seven years before when he was a "chancery barrister who did not at all contemplate a change in his profession," The book is worth reading,] Bishop Courtenay's episcopate must always be memorable from the fact that he had to face the difficulties created by disestablishment and to lay the foundation of the voluntary system, while the inauguration by him of the Jamaica Home and Foreign Missionary Society marks a distinct epoch in the history of the Jamaica Church.

On Bishop Courtenay's resignation the choice of his successor was in the hands of the Synod, and a special meeting was summoned to elect a new Bishop. The result of the ballot was that the selection of the fourth Bishop of Jamaica was deputed to the English Committee of Reference. This Committee selected and appointed the Right Rev. W. G. Tozer, D.D., who from 1863 to 1874 had been Missionary Bishop of Central Africa, a position which he had been compelled to resign on account of repeated and disabling attacks of fever. Bishop Tozer arrived in Jamaica in October, 1879, and his friends in England and elsewhere, who had followed with interest his African career, looked forward to his doing good service in his Western diocese. Unfortunately, the mischief done in Africa had taken so firm a hold on the Bishop's constitution that his health again gave way, before he had time to do any real work in Jamaica, and he retired in April, 1880. Bishop Tozer died on the 29th of June, 1899. In July, 1880, a special Synod was held to elect a successor to Bishop Tozer, and the choice fell on the Rev. Enos Nuttall, B.D., Island Curate of St. George's, Kingston, Jamaica, who, by his ability, energy and experience, had taken a prominent--not to say the most prominent--part in building up the voluntary Church. In addition to and apart from his parochial experience, Mr. Nuttall's business capacity, his ready grasp of financial detail, his power of clear expression, his unwearying industry, his familiarity with the methods of a voluntary church, all pointed to him as the natural leader and guide of the Jamaica Church. As Secretary of the Financial Board he had established a system of Church finance--both diocesan and parochial--which has stood the test of time, while in Synod he had been foremost in devising and creating the Constitution and Canons of the Church, in recognition of which services Archbishop Tait had conferred on him the degree of B.D. His election to the Bishopric was therefore no matter for surprise. Mr. NuttaU, having received the D.D. degree, was consecrated a Bishop in St. Paul's Cathedral on St. Simon and St. Jude's Day, 1880.

A summary review of the position of the Church at this time shows that there were 75 clergy in the diocese holding the Bishop's license, 29 of whom were in receipt of stipend from the State; there were 25,000 registered members; the initial difficulties of disendowment were being overcome, but the financial strain of filling vacancies, caused by the death or retirement of state-paid clergy, was in great part still to be met; the Missionary Society's stations numbered only 26; the Canons, with the exception of those necessary for the carrying on of the routine business of the Church, were in a somewhat inchoate condition; the training of candidates for Ordination was greatly handicapped for lack of money; many diocesan organisations and institutions were waiting their time to spring into life.

Such was the position of the Church at the beginning of Bishop Nuttall's Episcopate, which at the time of writing has already extended over thirty years; and, without in any way overlooking or depreciating the work of others, both laymen and clergymen (which he himself would be the first to admit and to be thankful for), it is no false use of words to say that the history of the Church of England in Jamaica since the year 1880 is synonymous with the biography of the first Archbishop of the West Indies. History is largely the relation of events that have marked the progress, or otherwise, of a community or institution, and I have tried to set forth these events; but biography is the record of the part any man takes in the doings and movements which make history, and for writing the biography of a man still living I have no capacity. In this case the intimacy of many years and gratitude for much kindness and help and consideration have not left me either unbiassed or impartial. But in any case the history of the growth and progress of an institution cannot be rightly written without some direct reference to the prime mover in this growth and progress. With the several Diocesan Societies and organisations I propose to deal separately in a subsequent chapter, in preference to relating their gradual development year by year.

At the Synod held in February, 1888, Bishop Nuttall took the opportunity of summarising a portion of his work during the early years of his Episcopate. His own words will tell their tale better than any words of mine. He said:--

"I have presided at eight Diocesan Synods in Jamaica, which altogether have extended over forty working days and have required for that time, and for many days before and after in each case, close attention to business for eighteen hours out of every twenty-four. I have already presided at one Diocesan Synod in British Honduras, which included the complete re-organisation of the affairs of the little Church in that outlying portion of the British Empire and, besides the private negotiations and public services and meetings, necessitated three weeks more to be spent in sea-voyaging and land travelling to accomplish the entire journey of 3,600 miles, via New Orleans.

"I have taken part in two Provincial Synods, which together have occupied all the working hours of twenty-six days and one of which involved sea-voyages of nearly 5,000 miles, occupying six weeks.

"I have held twenty-eight ordinations in Jamaica, at which thirty-nine deacons and thirty-nine priests have been ordained; confirmed in Jamaica more than 20,000 persons and consecrated eleven churches.

"I have visited most of the churches in the diocese three times and have held confirmations in all; many of the churches I have visited several times, and in some of the most accessible I have held confirmations once every twelve or eighteen months; and I have also visited many of the out-stations and held confirmations in some. To accomplish this I have travelled in various ways, but chiefly in buggy and on horseback, about 20,000 miles. This is exclusive of about 8,000 miles of sea-voyaging and other travelling in connection with my official visit to Honduras and to the Barbados Provincial Synod.

"I have delivered about 3,000 sermons and addresses. I have presided at about 1,400 meetings of such bodies as the Diocesan Council, Parochial Councils, Church Committees, Jamaica Schools' Commission, Board of Directors of the Mico Training College and Jamaica Female Training College. A considerable number of these meetings have occupied as much as three or four hours each.

"I have written about 40,000 letters, a large proportion of which have not been unimportant and have had to be copied for future reference; and not a few have been lengthy documents, dealing with questions of various kinds arising out of the disestablishment of the Church and the changed relations requiring to be established with the Government, the public, the clergy and the lay-members of the Church and have therefore been documents requiring to be prepared with care. I have also written and published several pamphlets and many circulars dealing with ecclesiastical, educational and social questions."

No one will be surprised, after reading this simple record of toil, that Bishop Nuttall was ordered by his medical advisers to take a complete rest, and that the Synod unanimously determined on the appointment of an Assistant Bishop. The Canon, which had been specially prepared and passed in view of this emergency, placed the nomination of an Assistant Bishop in the hands of the Bishop of the Diocese, subject to the confirmation of Synod by vote of a clear majority of each order. Dr. Nuttall, in accordance with this Canon, nominated as his assistant the Ven. Charles Frederick Douèt, M.A., Rector of the Cathedral Church, Spanish Town, and Archdeacon of Surrey (Jamaica), and the Synod in September, 1888, confirmed this nomination by a unanimous vote. No better nomination could have been made. Archdeacon Douèt was consecrated a Bishop in Westminster Abbey on St. Andrew's Day, 1888.

Briefly reviewing the Church's progress between Bishop Nuttall's consecration and the appointment of an Assistant Bishop, we find that at the latter date Church membership had steadily, though perhaps slowly, increased; that there were eighty-seven clergy in the diocese, of whom sixty-eight were on the staff of the voluntary Church; that Sunday School work had shown encouraging signs of growing activity; that the number of Mission Stations was forty-seven, an increase of two per annum; that the Canons were gradually getting into a more permanent and less experimental condition; that the number of persons confirmed was larger; and the places at which Confirmations were held were more numerous, though not enough to satisfy either the Bishop's wishes or his intentions; that a beginning had been made in the establishment of a Theological College, and a temporary home found for its work, nine students from which were already ordained and working in the Diocese; and that throughout the Diocese there was a feeling of loyal confidence in the administration of Church affairs by the executive Boards, presided over and guided by the Bishop.

Other causes, besides the state of the Bishop's health, pointed to the necessity of securing additional Episcopal help. The resolution of the Synod approving of this appointment stated "that the appointment of an Assistant Bishop is necessary to assist the Bishop of Jamaica, in consequence of the growth of the Diocese and the heavy work which its missionary character entails upon him." The latter clause of the above sentence has reference to work not only within the Diocese but also on the Isthmus of Panama. A large portion of the work on M. de Lesseps's ill-fated attempt to construct a canal through the Isthmus of Panama, from Colon on the Atlantic to Panama on the Pacific coast, was done by British-African labourers from the West Indian Islands, the greater part of whom were Jamaicans; in fact at one time more than 20,000 Jamaicans were employed on the Isthmus, attracted there by higher wages and possibly by the pleasing lure of future advantages and comforts which were not realised, but ignorant of the .conditions under which they would have to work and live or die. Many of these, were communicant members of the Church of England; others were regular or occasional attendants at Church services. Practically no provision was made for the spiritual needs of the emigrants, and not much for their material wants. In 1882 the Bishop of Jamaica obtained from S.P.G. a grant towards the stipend of a chaplain to minister to British subjects on the Isthmus. The Mission began well, but was interrupted by a rebellion in 1885, during which the town of Colon was almost entirely destroyed by fire. Nominally the Isthmus at that time was within the jurisdiction of the Bishop of the Falkland Islands, but for obvious geographical reasons the mission there could more fitly be supervised from Jamaica than from the Falklands. In 1885 the Bishop of the Falkland Islands visited Jamaica, and an arrangement was made by which the direction of the Panama Mission was handed over to the Bishop of Jamaica. On the collapse of M. de Lesseps's undertaking, though the majority of those who survived the climate and circumstances of the Isthmus were re-patriated to Jamaica, a great number remained in Colon and Panama and other parts of the United States of Columbia, and the missionary work of the Church on the Isthmus was continued under Bishop Nuttall's guidance until the formation of the Diocese of Honduras, when it was transferred from Jamaica to the newly-created Diocese.

The care of the Church in British Honduras had long been a source of anxiety to Bishops of Jamaica. Early in the nineteenth century C.M.S. had made an attempt at work there which does not appear to have been followed up, and S.P.G. had helped to support missionaries in Belize and Corosal. In 1862, Belize, as the settlement was then called, was constituted the Colony of British Honduras, and a Church Establishment of two clergy was maintained in the town of Belize. This Establishment ceased in 1872. In 1880 the Church in British Honduras "organised itself on the basis of a separate diocese," and elected Dr. Tozer, then Bishop of Jamaica, as its Bishop. On Dr. Tozer's retirement from Jamaica he retained the Bishopric of Honduras for some months, and then resigned. In 1881 the Archbishop of Canterbury asked Bishop Nuttall to undertake the task of re-organising the Church in British Honduras and to give episcopal supervision there until some other arrangement could be made. In 1883 Bishop Nuttall visited Honduras and held a special Synod at which the Church was regularly constituted a Diocese in communion with the Church of England, though no appointment was made to the Bishopric until 1891, when Archdeacon Holme, of St. Kitt's, was consecrated a Bishop in Barbados Cathedral--the first consecration of a Church of England Bishop in the West Indies. Bishop Holme's career was tragically short. He was shipwrecked on his way to Honduras and had to spend some days on a sandbank: his health was seriously affected and, beginning rough work before his complete recovery, he died three months after his consecration. After an interval of two years, during which Bishop Nuttall resumed charge of the diocese, Dr. Ormsby, Vicar of St. Stephen's, Walworth, was appointed Bishop and held the See until 1908, when he resigned; under his vigorous guidance the Church made steady progress and now includes, in addition to churches and missions and schools in the colony of British Honduras, English-speaking congregations in the Republics of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Spanish Honduras and Costa Rica, where many Jamaicans have settled who gladly welcomed the ministrations of the Church. The United States of Columbia, with the Church Missions on the Isthmus of Panama, were also included in the Diocese of Honduras till, in 1904, the United States of America secured possession of the section of country through which the Canal is being constructed by American engineers. The Church Missions were then transferred to the Protestant Episcopal Church of America.

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