Ernle Gordon was a fearless, prophetic priest

Letters to the Editor

Ernle Gordon was a fearless, prophetic priest

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

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Dear Editor,

The late Reverend Canon Ernle Patrick Gordon was a fearless prophetic priest who was like a John the Baptist to the Jamaican politicians. Many would have preferred him beheaded.

While most of his articles and letters were published in the Jamaica Observer, he was never overlooked by The Gleaner which sometimes clashed with him over his theology.

According to former journalist Billy Hall, Canon Gordon “has been for many years a prolific writer to newspapers and articles, contributing letters and articles that have mostly espoused or embraced radical views — theological, socially, and ideologically”.

Gordon, however, explained his position in The Sunday Gleaner of December 7, 1980 when he wrote, “Too many Jamaicans are using narrow party political ideas to view my genuine theological interpretations.” Such was his confidence, and as a priest, he believed in empowering the disenfranchised.

Canon Gordon was one of the few priests, along with Canon Peter Mullings, who held the bishop's licence as an exorcist. He once shared the story of him heading up to Stony Hill to perform the rite, and how the demons tried to force his vehicle off the road. He was never afraid, and having rebuked the spirit, continued the journey to complete his spiritual warfare. I learnt from him not to fear “friend nor foe”; and because of his example I worked among the children of the Tower Hill mission for one whole year, never missing a Sunday school, even on occasions when gunmen caused many people to fear their own shadow.

In 2003 I was instrumental in facilitating his first published book, After Alpha – What? in which he “looks at some of those areas that must be addressed by the Church if we are going to import 'potted plants' to supplement the teaching ministry of the Church” (from the preface).

In 2006, in celebration of his 40th anniversary of ordination to the diaconate, I published Spiritual Vibes — A Collection of Articles by Canon Ernle Patrick Gordon. This book has seven of his published articles in the Jamaica Observer and was to honour him as one who had always seen it to be the duty of modern-day theologians “not [to] reform the ideas of the past, so that they will justify the conditions and conflictions of the present, but to begin to take risks so that the theological positions... put forward will advance the consciousness of the... people and allow them not only to see clearly where they are going, but to challenge the new paradigm shifts”.

It is my prayer that God will raise up among the Church clergy who would emulate the teaching ministry of this great thinker whose “kerygmatic affirmations and appeals as that which constitutes a summons to believe the gospel is grounded in Anglican incarnational theology and the prophetic and sacramental role of the priest” ('The Theology of Ernle Gordon', Jamaica Observer, February 26, 2013).

My condolence to his wife. Juliet and family.

Dudley C McLean II

Mandeville, Manchester

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