Archbishop Gregory humbled to receive national honour
Distinguished theologian, The Most Reverend Dr Howard Kingsley Ainsworth Gregory, says he is humbled to have been chosen for conferment with the Order of Jamaica (OJ), his first national award.
Dr Gregory, whose stewardship in Christian ministry and education spans over 40 years, is Archbishop of the Anglican Church in the Province of the West Indies and Bishop of the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
“It’s a humbling experience to have your country recognise your work and the contribution you have made to the life of the nation. But also, in some ways, [it is an] acknowledgement that the scope of my work, while being grounded here in Jamaica, extends beyond our shores, and has a global dimension as well to it,” he tells JIS News.
The Archbishop, who is being recognised for ‘Service in the field of Religion,’ is one of five Jamaicans, who will be presented with the OJ, the country’s fifth highest national honour, this year.
The other awardees are Audley Shaw, CD, MP, for sterling contribution to political administration in Jamaica; Marcia Linneth Griffiths, CD, for sterling contribution to Reggae Music locally and internationally; Charles Henry Johnston, CD, for outstanding contribution to Jamaica’s shipping and logistics industry, and Paul Barnaby Scott, CD, for exceptional contribution to the business industry, investment and philanthropy in Jamaica and the Caribbean.
Dr Gregory’s storied odyssey has encompassed wide-ranging engagements locally, regionally and globally.
After graduating from the United Theological College of the West Indies (UTCWI) and completing graduate studies in Pastoral Theology at the Virginia Theological Seminary in the United States, his first assignment from the then Bishop of Jamaica, the Most Rev Herbert Edmonson, was as Chaplain at the University of the West Indies (UWI), with which the UTCWI is affiliated, between 1974 and 1978.
During that period, Dr Gregory was also asked to teach part-time at two of the Church’s educational institutions – The Queen’s School and Kingston College.
He was, thereafter, reassigned to another Anglican educational institution – Church Teachers’ College in Mandeville, Manchester – where he spent two years as Chaplain and Lecturer.
Dr Gregory was asked to return to Kingston in 1980 and take up an assignment as lecturer at the UTCWI, pointing out that “I actually spent 21 years at the College, the last 12 as president.”
He was subsequently elected Suffragan Bishop of Montego Bay, serving in that capacity from 2002 until the end of 2011. Dr Gregory was elected Bishop of Jamaica the following year and Archbishop of the West Indies in 2019.
The esteemed clergyman points out that he holds the distinction of being the first Jamaican to simultaneously serve as Diocesan Bishop and Provincial Archbishop, noting that both positions come with a significant amount of responsibilities.
He explains that as Diocesan Bishop, he has oversight for the Church’s approximately 200 educational institutions, including recommending the appointment of principals and vice principals.
Dr Gregory’s other engagements in this capacity include Chairman of the Trustees of Nuttall Hospital, noting that the Church’s three children’s homes – Wortley, St Monica’s and Clifton – “are part of my responsibilities as well.”
Additionally, he chairs the Board that manages St George’s Anglican Church and the affiliated school – St George’s Preparatory – in the Cayman Islands.
Outside of these, the Bishop chaired the Teachers’ Services Commission, which appoints the Principals and Vice Principals for all public schools, for 10 years.
As Archbishop, Dr Gregory oversees the eight Dioceses comprising the Province. These are The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba (NECA), St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana (incorporating Suriname), along with Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, which have a combined membership of upwards of 250,000. He also chairs the Trustees of Codrington College in Barbados.
Dr Gregory tells JIS News that he is one of the 42 Archbishops who have designated responsibilities within the global Anglican Communion.
“So I sit as a Primate along with the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Archbishops in certain consulting circles regarding matters related to the Communion,” he informs.
Archbishop Gregory’s other activities at this level include Chairman of the international Anglican body dealing with theological education.
“I’ve also co-chaired the Anglican/Reform Dialogue between the two Churches. The Reformed Church has over 100 million members across the world while the Anglicans have 80-odd million; and I chaired the dialogue between those two bodies, looking at matters related to advancing the relationship between our two Communions,” he shares.
“So my duties are not just within the region or within the Diocese. It means I travel a lot overseas to different parts of the world where the Anglican Church is located,” the Archbishop adds.
Reflecting on his stewardship, Dr. Gregory tells JIS News that his rise to the position of Archbishop could be considered among his achievements.
“There’s no higher position than Archbishop that one can get within the Anglican Communion. To get there and, certainly, now to receive this national award, I think that it’s something to reflect on as part of my accomplishments in life,” he says.
Dr Gregory, who is among 126 outstanding Jamaicans, who will be presented with national honours and awards at King’s House on National Heroes Day, Monday, says he is touched by the honour.
“Some people probably expect and look forward to recognition. That’s not my primary purpose, in terms of my work. However, it was and is moving to know that my country would recognise me in this way,” he tells JIS News.