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Dispute over Anglican Jurisdiction of Cayman Islands as ACC Meet in Jamaica

Dispute over Anglican Jurisdiction of Cayman Islands as ACC Meet in Jamaica

By David W. Virtue
March 3, 2009

A meeting in Jamaica, May 2-14, of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) to which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams will pay his first visit, is raising questions over the jurisdictional ownership of the Cayman Islands.

The Bishop of Jamaica, The Right Reverend Alfred Charles Reid is claiming also to be bishop of the Cayman Islands. A press release says, "The Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands has begun planning for the visit."

Now a dispute is brewing over the territorial ambitions of the Bishop of Jamaica.

These islands are actually under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of London, The Rt. Rev Richard Chartres and leaders in the Cayman Islands have been protesting at the attempt to remove them from it.

Mr. Douglas Calder, a British educated attorney and honorary Legal Secretary to The Church of England in the Cayman Islands, says the Diocese of Jamaica has no claim over St. Alban's Church of England based in Georgetown. He has written a letter to Dr. Williams asking him to intervene in the dispute.

"There are two Anglican congregations in the Cayman Islands. St. Alban's Church of England looks to the historic authority of The Church of England, vested by Order in Council of King Charles I of 1634 in the Bishop of London. By that Order in Council the Bishop of London was given Ecclesiastical and Episcopal Authority over all British Subjects outside England. In some instances the Bishop of London has voluntarily surrendered his Authority. However, the Bishop of London's Authority over the Church in the Cayman Islands continues unaltered to this day."

The Cayman Islands are a Colony/British Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, which constitutionally is responsible for their government, Calder, a member of the congregation, told VOL.

"St George's Anglican Church looks to the Bishop of Jamaica, and adheres not to the Church of England, but instead to the Church in Jamaica in the Province of the West Indies," he continued.

"The Diocese of Jamaica and the Province of the West Indies tried some time ago to enlarge their boundaries to include the Cayman Islands in the Diocese of Jamaica and the Province of the West Indies. They endeavored to do this by resolutions respectively of the Provincial and Diocesan Synods."

At a meeting at Lambeth Palace convened by then Archbishop Dr. Robert Runcie, Calder told the Chancellor of the Diocese of Jamaica, Mr. Ira Rowe, that such resolutions were a complete nullity. "This was, and is, because the Sovereign is Supreme Governor of Her Church of England in all her Realms and Territories, including the Cayman Islands. Synods of a foreign church, such as this Church in Jamaica is have no authority or power in the matter."

Calder said Rowe was persuaded to agree with him. "The resolutions had no more effect in law than if, instead, they had purported to annex the Diocese of Canterbury to the Province of the West Indies. The Church of England is established by Law - not only in England, but also in the Cayman Islands."

"In my view the correct legal description of St George's is 'St George's Mission of the Church in Jamaica'. The presence and work of St George's Mission is welcomed by The Church of England in the Cayman Islands."

However, this has not stopped the Diocese of Jamaica from describing and advertising itself as the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, which is in fact unlawful. Calder has written a letter to Dr. Williams asking him to take action in the matter, but has not had a reply.

The Rector of St Alban's is The Reverend Nicholas Sykes.

The ACC is one of four instruments of unity in the Anglican Communion which serves the worldwide family of Anglican/Episcopal churches. It was formed following a resolution of the Lambeth Conference of 1968 which identified the need for more frequent and more representative contact among the churches than was possible through a once-a-decade conference of bishops. It facilitates coordination of common missionary activities, advises on the organization and structures of the communion, and seeks to develop common policies with respect to the world mission of the church, including ecumenical matters.

The archbishop is president of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). Some 150 delegates representing 164 nations will gather in Kingston for the meeting. The current chairman of the ACC is The Rt. Rev. John Paterson, Bishop of Auckland, New Zealand. The Secretary General, Rev Canon Kenneth Kearon, also serves as the general secretary of the ACC meetings.


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