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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 XVI.

THE enumeration in a previous chapter of Diocesan organisations would be incomplete without a brief reference to parochial work which is carried on, allowance being made for local conditions, very much on the same lines as in home parishes, whether town or country. The Archbishop's object, perhaps unconsciously, seems to have been to centralise organisation, wherever possible, so that the unit is the Diocese rather than the parish or the congregation. By this means there is less overlapping of work, with its inevitable waste of time and dissipation of energy. This is particularly the case with the Brotherhood of St. Andrew and the Deaconess Home work. And many, especially of the younger clergy, realise that it is a great help to find familiar machinery in good working order in a new parish to which they may be appointed; and it is more than possible that many congregations are relieved when they find that their newly-appointed clergyman has no intention to introduce many new methods but will continue to work on old and familiar and well-tried lines. At the same time there is no attempt at restraint or interference with individual liberty of choice or action. What suits one parish may not suit another. One clergyman has one method of working, another has a different method. One object appeals to one man, another to his neighbour. There is no limit or restriction either to the variety or to the extent of parochial energy, provided it does not transgress Canonical order and regulation.

(I) Sunday Schools.--Among parochial duties the greatest stress is placed by the Archbishop on Sunday schools. This emphasis may to some people appear unnecessary, for no part of a clergyman's (or a layman's) work is more pleasant or more profitable or more full of promise than Sunday school teaching. It is laid down in the Canons that "Every clergyman in charge of a district shall have a Sunday school and shall give personal supervision and encouragement to the maintenance thereof." A reference to Church returns and population statistics shows that of the estimated population the proportion who are children of Church of England parents and between the ages of five and fifteen is about 88,000: official returns show that there were last year 30,426 on the Sunday school registers, and with an average attendance of 15,853. The average may seem low, but allowance must be made for absences caused at certain seasons by heavy rains and floods, which make is impossible for children to walk to school. The number on Church Sunday school books exceeds by 2,000 the number in the day school books, but the average attendance does not show so good a record. Except in town parishes there must always be a difficulty in obtaining the help of competent teachers, distance between home and school being a greater obstacle in a tropical than in a temperate climate; and the regular holding of Sunday school teachers' instruction classes is very difficult in a scattered country parish. Bearing in mind all these circumstances, the number of Sunday school teachers, 1,774, speaks well for the interest taken by educated men and women in the Sunday training of the young. In Kingston there are 218 Sunday school teachers. To make a comparison and assuming that every Sunday school teacher is a communicant, the latest edition of the Church's Year Book shows that in England one in every eleven communicants teaches in a Sunday school. In Jamaica one in every twenty-three does so. There is room for improvement here. More teachers would mean better individual teaching, and would be followed by more scholars. At the same time too much praise cannot be given to those who willingly and cheerfully undertake this most difficult and important work, a work which requires so much self-sacrifice as almost to deserve a special blessing. The course of study, recommended by Synod and generally adopted, is that of the Church of England Sunday School Institute. The largest town Sunday school in the Diocese, and possibly in the Island, is that in connection with the Kingston Parish Church with 1,016 pupils on the books, and an average attendance of 497; the largest country school is at Mandeville, a small town in the Manchester hills, of which the Coadjutor Bishop is the present rector; this school has an average attendance of 314, with 659 names on the books, the overwhelming majority, here as elsewhere in Jamaica, both of teachers and pupils consisting of persons who are wholly or partially of African descent. Contrast this with an incident which occurred at the opening of Mandeville Church almost 100 years ago when the militia marched into the Church and arrested the only coloured person in the congregation--a little girl with a slight touch of negro blood in her veins, but outwardly as fair to look upon as were those yellow-haired Anglican slaves, whose beauty and distress moved to pity the heart of Pope Gregory as he strolled through the slave-market at Rome. This little girl had presumed to go to Church.

(2) Confirmation.--Great importance is attached to this rite. Churches and mission stations are not grouped into centres for collective Confirmation, but there is a Confirmation Service held in every church and mission station. In many churches this service is annual; in others it is held once at least in eighteen months. Preparation for Confirmation, following on Sunday school teaching, is generally extended over many months, and in a considerable number of parishes Confirmation classes are held throughout the year. After one Confirmation the preparatory class for the next begins forthwith. One feature in connection with Confirmation in Jamaica is that in many churches, at some suitable place in the service, there is a roll-call of those who had been previously confirmed, at which most of those still resident in the district are present and are encouraged by the Archbishop or by the Coadjutor Bishop to continue steadfast to their promise. As a rule persons after confirmation immediately become communicant members of the Church and the constant and continued teaching and oversight and pastoral care of these young people is urgently advised by the Archbishop and very generally practised by the clergy and catechists. Many of them are lost sight of by removal to other districts or by migration to Central America, where, on the banana plantations or on the Panama Canal, work is more abundant and more profitable than in Jamaica.

Independent testimony from outside is often more valuable than any other witness, and therefore I may quote a few words from a sermon preached at the reopening of Annotto Bay Church by the Bishop, (Dr. Bury) of Honduras, in which he reminded the congregation that in the part of Central America in which he worked he was constantly meeting Jamaica people, and how keen and hearty they were there in their Church life; and he added "When I see these well-worked parishes in Jamaica, I begin to see the reason why these same men when they come to Costa Rica and other parts are so keen and alive in Church matters. They are clearly taught in their own country to take a real interest in their Prayer Book service."

There are a few remaining features of Diocesan work for which only a brief reference can be made here, such as the following:--

(1) Special Missions. The conducting of Special Missions to various parishes has been to a great extent a recent development of Church life in Jamaica. The General mission conducted by Canon Grant has already been mentioned, as has also the special work by Bishop Collins. But in late years the experience of Dr. Joscelyne (the Coadjutor Bishop) in such work in England, combined with his spiritual force and earnestness and capacity, has been largely used and many congregations and individuals have been impressed and influenced and encouraged. To be a mission preacher, as distinct from a parish minister, is in its way a great and special gift, and happily a goodly number of the present clergy in Jamaica have this gift in varying degree; and very wisely those who have it not abstain from attempting to use what they do not possess and are content to do work for which they are fitted and to avail themselves of the occasional help of a brother who has gifts not bestowed on them. But missions must be special, and not frequent. There is a well-known case, which ought not to be forgotten, of a North country clergyman in England who nearly emptied his own church because of his acceptance and popularity as a mission preacher in other parts of England: he now sticks to his own parish and has huge and crowded congregations. The moral is obvious.

(2) Parochial Councils and Episcopal Visitations.--The Archbishop and the Coadjutor Bishop have been making strenuous efforts to make the meetings of Parochial Councils, or Ruri-decanal Chapters, much more than formal gatherings of a few clergymen and laymen for the presentation and receiving of official returns. Certainly once a year, when possible, one or other of them, sometimes both, make a special visitation to a parish to be present at its Council meeting, and to give advice and direction, if needed, or to obtain on the spot information which is requisite for the effective administration of Church matters in which the welfare of any parish in concerned. This frequent and friendly intercourse between bishops and clergy and laity is of inestimable value. The Bishop is no longer regarded as a figure-head, invested with certain powers and privileges appertaining to his office: the clergy lose that feeling of loneliness which is often so depressing and discouraging: and the laymen become conscious that they are a real and integral and founda-tional part of the Church, something more than members of a congregation or attendants at church services.

(3) "The Jamaica Churchman."--This is a Diocesan Quarterly Journal and Record of Church News. A few parishes have their own (localised) magazines and may possibly have the financial anxieties which not infrequently accompany such efforts without impairing their interest and usefulness, But The Jamaica Churchman is an official record of Diocesan events, besides reporting local news from various parishes and containing occasional articles of value and appropriate extracts from home papers. The cost of publication and circulation is mainly borne by subsidies, voted by Synod from the Diocesan Expenses Fund and the Missionary Society; by donations and subscriptions; and by grants received through the Archbishop. Such a paper ought to be self-supporting, but it is not, and it is not my business to fix the blame for this anywhere. Possibly and probably I might fix the blame on the wrong shoulders, and there are several to choose from, and suggestions in a little book of this sort would be purely academic and of little value;

(4) Hymn Book.--The custom of having different Hymn Books in use in churches and mission stations was for years a cause of inconvenience and a source of regret. When the time seemed ripe for a change the Archbishop brought the question to the notice of the Synod in the year 1905, when after full discussion it was unanimously agreed to adopt "Church Hymns," published by S.P.C.K., as a Book of Common Praise for the Diocese.

(5) The Lepers' Home Chaplaincy.--The Lepers' Home, maintained by the Government, is situated near Spanish Town, and the rector of the Cathedral Church is Chaplain with a nominal stipend of £4 per annum, interest on an Endowment Fund. The Endowment was provided and a Chapel built by Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Watts who visited Jamaica some years ago and were deeply impressed by the self-denying labours of Bishop Douèt and others among the sufferers in the Home. For many years Miss Mackglashan was untiring in her kindly ministrations to the Leper inmates of the Home, seldom numbering less than one hundred. She was killed in the earthquake on the 14th of January, 1907, and the memory of her work and devotion is perpetuated by a memorial window in the Cathedral, the gift of Mrs. Watts, who also repaired the damage done to the Chapel by the earthquake. Sunday and other services are regularly held in the Chapel by the rector or the curate of the Cathedral, and the Archbishop holds confirmations there from time to time. On the occasion of confirming in March, 1910, eleven men and seven women, inmates of the Home, the Archbishop unveiled the memorial window in the Cathedral and referred to Miss Mackglashan's labours in the following words:--

"This window has been presented to the Cathedral in memory of Miss Mackgiashan, whose life and work at the Lepers' Home were well known to the people of Spanish Town. Hers was a life earnestly, quietly and continually devoted to the service of God, and that in a very special way. Many years ago, about 1876, the Lepers' Home, through the influence of Bishop Douèt and others, was transferred to the site it now occupies near Spanish Town. At a meeting of the Church workers of the Cathedral, Bishop Dou£t, who was then Rector of the Cathedral, asked if any one would be willing to undertake the regular visitation of the Home. His suggestion was accepted by Miss Mackgiashan and she continued from that time to the day of her death to be the devoted counsellor, friend, spiritual teacher (together with the Rector) and helper of the inmates."

Miss Mackglashan's good work is now being carried on by her sister. The inmates of the Home are carefully tended by a superintendent and a matron and by a very competent and sympathetic medical attendant (Dr. W. D. Neish), and every possible provision is made for the comfort of the sufferers and for the alleviation of their distressful condition.

(6) The Jamaica Church Aid Association.--This Association was started soon after Dr. Nuttall's consecration by some of his personal friends in England and has gradually grown until it is almost essential to the work of the Diocese. Its title indicates its purpose, which is to help, not to create, to help both in emergencies and in normal conditions. The Bishop of Islington is President, Canon Pearce is Chairman of the Committee, Miss Florence Klein is Hon. Secretary and Mr. W. G. Klein, 24 Belsize Park, London, N.W. is Hon. Treasurer of the Association. The members and helpers of the Association are mainly those who have some connection with, or interest in, Jamaica either personally or through friends. Branches of the Association have been established at Ardingly (Diocese of Chichester Branch), Bedford, Belsize Park, Bournemouth, Bristol, Brompton, Ealing, Lewisham, Manchester, Oxford, Rochester, Southsea, Torquay. In illustration of the aid given in emergencies, it is only necessary to put on record that more than £3,000 was sent to the Hurricane (1903) Relief Fund, and that more than £10,000 was contributed or collected for the Earthquake (1907) Relief Fund. The ordinary help given by the Association and the use to which it is put may best be described in the Archbishop's own words. In October, 1910, he wrote:--

"In ordinary times and in the absence of catastrophes like earthquake and hurricane, we have a considerable number of churches in which the congregations voluntarily provide for the maintenance of the clergyman and the institutions and work of the Church; and also do something towards Church extension. But we have also a large number of poor churches and districts where religious ministrations cannot be provided without extraneous aid. And we have numerous places in which assistance to the extent of £20 or £30 a year would make this great difference that a clergyman would live and work with moderate comfort and with efficiency (including the providing adequately for the keep of a horse for travelling and other necessities) instead of being personally ill-provided for and also crippled in his work. . . . The Jamaica Church Aid Association has, in the average, raised about £500 annually in aid of Jamaica Church work. In Jamaica, especially in the country districts, this assistance has done much towards enabling us to carry on work which would otherwise have been neglected. I shall not, however, I hope, be thought ungrateful for the help given if I urge the great need for increased efforts. If I could rely on receiving £1,000 yearly from the Association it would do much to lesson the wearing anxieties as to how expenses are to be met for many of the bare necessities of Church work in Jamaica. The money received from time to time is placed in the Colonial Bank, Jamaica, where all other Diocesan moneys for current expenses are deposited; and the accounts of this English Fund are kept by the Diocesan Financial Board, and the Grants paid out by its cheques. The Grants are made so as to help to meet every kind of pressing necessity as regards erection and repairs of buildings, and special requirements of workers (clergy, catechists and teachers) and the maintenance of our College and Deaconess Home work; and it is seldom that any grant is made except as a means of stimulating and aiding local effort, and the grants are not paid unless the persons locally concerned do their part. So that a large amount of necessary outlay in various departments of our work is provided for which could not be accomplished without the stimulus and encouragement of such grants-in-aid from the English Fund."

Again, in April, 1911, accounting for the expenditure of money received in the previous year, he wrote:--

"To some it may appear that £500 or £600 per annum can be of little use, and is not needed in a diocese like Jamaica, but I, who have the privilege of being conversant with the needs in detail of our various agencies, realise fully the good that is accomplished by this total outlay; and this is strongly impressed on me by what I see in individual instances, in which the expenditure of £5 or £10 encourages and stimulates work and workers. It would fill us with sadness if our work in the Vineyard of the Lord were to become feeble and ineffective for lack of necessary financial help. Our people give to the best of their ability; but without extraneous aid expansion and strengthening of existing work cannot be secured. It is, therefore, no mere form of words that I use when, in thanking my friends for past help, I plead for a continuance and increase thereof in the future."

Whenever the Archbishop is in England he arranges to have a special meeting of the Association which is attended by members and by friends, many of whom are Jamaicans, resident in, or visitors to, England who avail themselves of this opportunity of renewing old friendships and acquaintanceships, and of hearing from the Archbishop and other speakers something about the Island in which they lived and the Church of which many of them are members and in the welfare of which all are interested.

(7) S.P.C.K. and Jamaica.--I have already written of the help given, when it was sorely needed, to the Diocese of Jamaica by the C.M.S., the S.P.G. and the C. and C.C.S., and have occasionally referred to the S.P.C.K. But this Society deserves more than occasional reference and may almost be regarded as a Diocesan Institution. At its first meeting in 1698 the promotion of religion in the Plantations--they were not then called Colonies--was stated in a plan submitted by Dr. Gray for its constitution, which was to be "to provide and support such missionaries as the Lord Bishop of London shall think necessary to be sent into these parts, where no establishment or provision is yet made for the support of the Clergy." Other plans were also projected, such as the provision of libraries for parochial uses. On the 28th of October, 1701, it was "resolved that from hence-forwards the usual subscriptions to the Plantations shall cease." This was because of the formation in that year of the S.P.G., which undertook to look after the spiritual needs of America. How thoroughly the S.P.G. fulfilled this trust has already been told. But the S.P.C.K., though relieved for a time of much responsibility, did not lose sight of the West Indies, when in later years and under changed conditions its help was asked for and readily given. In 1701 the Society had a correspondent in the Colony, James Blair (of the celebrated sermons). In 1821 a District Committee was formed in Jamaica, and in 1824, when the See of Jamaica was founded, the Society made a grant of £500 to Bishop Lipscomb, to be appropriated by him in such manner as might appear best. In 1834 an interesting letter from Bishop Lips-comb, too long for reproduction here, reports his satisfaction that "a very considerable increase in the schools and in the number of apprentices under instruction on the several properties, has taken place during the last year." From that date, or rather from six years before that date, S.P.C.K.'s help to Jamaica has been continuous and incessant. Its grants during the years 1828-1898 are thus summarised in "Two Hundred Years," the History of the Society from its formation to its bicentenary in 1898:--

145 churches and schools 6,510
Block Grant for churches and schools 300
Restoration of churches and schools after hurricanes 3,000
Cathedral 500
Colleges 1,065
Endowment of See 500
Endowment of Clergy 5,000
General purposes 973
Studentships 1,313

The above return does not include Jamaica's share of £10,000 granted in 1834 for the religious instruction of emancipated negroes. A careful analysis of the Society's grants down to the year 1898 shows that, out of ninety-two Missionary and Colonial Dioceses, which are indebted to it for assistance, in only three (those of Nova Scotia, Ontario and Toronto) has the building of more churches and schools been helped, and that only three (those of Calcutta, Cape Town and Madras) have received so large an amount of money for Church purposes. And since the Bicentenary of 1898 the same generous help has been almost lavishly given, including a grant of £1,000 after the hurricane in 1903, and another of £4,000 after the earthquake in 1907, while grants for new or enlarged buildings and for (native) studentships at the Theological College still continue to be given. With justice and truth, indeed, might Canon Pearce say at a monthly General Meeting of the Society that "to the Church of an island situated as Jamaica is the S.P.C.K. is a necessity of its existence."

(8) Census and other Returns.--The official returns of the last Synod showed the number of registered members of the Church of England in 1911 was 41,290. Comparing one year with that proceeding it, membership recorded in these returns does not at first sight seem to vary very much from year to year, but it is worth while noting that it has more than doubled since 1870, when the voluntary system was introduced. Let us see now how these figures compare with the general statistics of the colony. The Census taken in 1911 showed a total population of 831,382 and the following are the returns in that Census under the heading of Religion:

Baptists 195,053
Bedwardite 1,135
Christian 21,218
Church of England 266,478
Church of Scotland 6,305
Congregationalists 13,165
Evangelistic Mission 3,143
Friends 1,535
Hindu 9,211
Jewish 1,487


Wesleyan 83,228
United 10,420

Moravian 36,208
Presbyterian Church 50,335
Roman Catholic 24,619
Salvation Army 2,878
Seventh Day Adventists 3,955

Others--numbering less than 1,000 each 5,486
No Religion 22
Not stated 95,502
Total 831,383

The returns presented for the same year to Annual Synods, Conferences, and Central authorities were stated in the "Handbook" as being:--

Church of Scotland 3,200
Roman Catholics 18,000
Baptists 37,202
Congregational Union 3,338
Wesleyans 21,024
Moravians 14,176
Presbyterian Church 12,547
Seventh Day Adventists 2,000
Total 111,487

The above total, added to that of the Church of England members, amounts to 152,777. In the cases of other denominations the actual membership is not stated in the "Handbook." They total 56,513 in the Census Returns. Of this number 10,698 are Jews or Hindus, and the figures represent both race and religion. Then the designation "Christian" in all likelihood was often used in a general and undenominational sense--it would certainly include the Syrian Christians--and not as necessarily implying membership of "the Christian Church" or "the Church of the Disciples of Christ," a religious movement, doing excellent work in Jamaica and elsewhere, having for its object the union of all Christians on the basis of New Testament teaching alone. Also two or three of these smaller denominations are open for adherence to adults only and at present take no account of children who are too young to understand or to accept dogmas, the acceptance of which is necessary for membership.

Having in view the seeming discrepancy between Church and Census returns, we must first remember that registers of Church members do not, as a rule, include the names of children: indeed, except in cases so few in number that they need not be reckoned with, the registered members of the Church of England are all persons who have been confirmed. Fixing the average age for confirmation in Jamaica at fifteen and assuming that registration in other Churches does not begin at an earlier age, we may therefore for the present purpose deduct from the whole population the number of children under the age of fifteen. The report of the 1911 Census Commissioners shews that there were 331,166 children under the age of fifteen, leaving 500,217 persons above that age. Of these latter the Returns to the Churches show that 152,777 are directly connected with some religious organisation; and the Census Returns show that 56,513 are also members of some religious body, the total being 209,290. Following the precedent of Bishop Lipscomb we may fairly add to the number of accredited members one-third of that number to represent persons whose attendance at church or chapel is only fitful and casual, and also those who are in the position of candidates for confirmation or of "inquirers" or of probationers in some other sect.

We can now analyse the Census and other Returns as follows:--

From Church Returns and Census of other religious bodies 209,290

1/3 for casual adherents, etc. 69,763
Children under fifteen years of age 331,356
Persons of no religion or of a not stated religion 95,524
Total 705,693

This leaves the large number of 125,690 persons who declined to state that they had no religion and entered themselves as members of some denomination to which perhaps they or their parents formerly belonged, or in the work of which they sympathised without taking the necessary steps to be registered therein.

I believe the above figures are correct, with the exception that the number of unregistered and occasional attendants at divine service is larger now than it was in Bishop Lipscomb's days. Certainly if the figures err at all it is not in the direction of over-stating the case from the standpoint of the Churches. I have tried to be fair and just. Now while these figures show that there is unmistakably much work still in front of the Churches, their one gratifying feature is that the number of persons deliberately and conscientiously associating themselves with some denomination is gradually increasing and that this increase more than keeps pace with the growth of the population. And there is indirectly another lesson to be learnt, which is that the demands on parochial or congregational work, in order to keep together a parish or a congregation, are so incessant and so pressing that there is a danger of those outside any fixed organisation being neglected and allowed to continue in their neglect. We know that this danger exists in no little degree at home and that strenuous efforts are being made to deal with it. Similar efforts are being made in Jamaica and will continue to be made.

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