BISHOP Howard Kingsley Ainsworth Gregory is the new head of the Anglican Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
Bishop Gregory, 61, the Suffragan Bishop of Montego Bay, replaced the Rt Rev Alfred Reid, who served as Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands for 11 years before his retirement at the end of last year.
A majority of the over 300 Clergy and Lay Representatives of the Anglican Church voted for Bishop Gregory at a special meeting of the Diocesan Synod yesterday.
The Special Synod, known as the Elective Assembly, was held at St Luke’s Church Hall in Cross Roads.
Bishop Gregory, who will now be enthroned the 14th Bishop of Jamaica, staved off a challenge from Suffragan Bishop of Kingston, Robert Thompson, who many observers felt was the favourite for the post.
Bishop Gregory led Bishop Thompson in the first round of voting, but failed to get the required two-thirds majority that would have made a second round of voting irrelevant.
However, Bishop Thompson pulled out of the race shortly before the start of the second round of voting, thus paving the way for the elevation of Bishop Gregory to the top job in the Anglican Church in the Province of the West Indies.
Voting was done in two houses, the Clergy and the Laity; with the Clergy accounting for 131 votes, and the Laity 200 of the overall 331 votes.
“It was a very cordial and peaceful session, and there was general respect for all persons,” one participant told the Jamaica Observer about the closed door event.
“Both candidates were eminently qualified to become Bishop of Jamaica, but in the end, only one could have been chosen, and the majority spoke,” the participant said.
Bishop Gregory, who writes a weekly column in the Sunday Observer, became a priest in 1974 and was consecrated Suffragan Bishop of Montego Bay in June 2002.
He has been serving as Canonial Administrator of the Anglican Church since January of this year, following the retirement of Bishop Reid. The Canonial Administrator is the effective head of the church in the absence of the Lord Bishop.
Bishop Gregory holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in theology from the University of the West Indies, a Master of Sacred Theology from Columbia Theological Seminary in Georgia, USA, a Master’s degree in business administration from the Graduate Theological Foundation in South bend, Indiana, and the Doctor of Divinity degree from the Graduate Theological Foundation and the Virginia Theological Seminary.
He also holds diplomas in ministerial studies and education.
The Anglican Church is one of Jamaica’s most powerful institutions.
The church founded several educational institutions, which have developed into some of Jamaica’s foremost centres of learning.
The Anglican Church also has major community outreach porgrammes, which have, over the years, benefited thousands of Jamaicans.