Bishop of Bermuda hopefuls look to the future

  • <B>Venerable Andrew Doughty</B>

    Venerable Andrew Doughty

  • <B>Reverend Nick Dill</B>

    Reverend Nick Dill
    (Photo by Ira Philip)

The Island will acquire a new Bishop of Bermuda early next year — with two contenders nominated for the top job in the local Anglican community.

The choice between Reverend Nick Dill and the Venerable Andrew Doughty will be settled by majority vote in the Anglican Synod — the local administrative body comprising clergy and laity.

“Nick and I are both born Bermudians and well known in the community, who both love the Anglican Church and want the very best for it and for Bermuda,” explained Archdeacon Doughty.

“Whoever is elected will hope for the support and prayers of the people.”

The successful candidate will be only the third born Bermudian to hold the job, following now-retired Bishop Patrick White, and his predecessor, Bishop Ewen Ratteray.

But they bring different experience and the goals to the table: Rev Dill, 49, is the head Minister for the Parish of Pembroke, a community that’s had to contend with gang issues even as it has seen growth in its congregation.

The 56-year-old Archdeacon Doughty, Rector of St Mary’s Church, in Warwick, has a longer career in the church, and since 2004 has held his current administrative position, effectively the number-two job in the Anglican community.

The 60-day period for nominations concluded on Friday with the two men put forward by the Diocesan Synod. Both candidates submit a statement of vision along with references and a CV for consideration.

Rev Dill conceded the Anglican Church, while considered the Island’s established church, comes with “historical baggage”, and can be seen as “staid and out of touch”.

“Whoever takes the position needs to be somebody with the ability to unite people, with a specific focus on reaching the youth,” he said.

Dispensing with the church’s historical associations requires engaging strongly with the community, he added — providing a voice for those who have none, and to provide spiritual counsel to the Island’s leaders.

“Perhaps one problem is that the church has not grown with the times, as the Anglican church has in other parts of the world,” he noted, considering the “vibrant congregations” in Africa and the Far East, versus the decline in numbers felt in Western communities.

In that respect, Rev Dill’s parish bucks the trend: membership has grown in seven years from 350 to about 500.

The area has undergone a trial by fire from gang violence: “Ever since Kumi Harford was shot, it’s been a wake-up call to us,” said Rev Dill of the December 2009 murder on St Monica’s Road. “The gang issue really forces us to work together and connect with the neighbourhoods.”

A sceptic in early life who trained and practised as a barrister and then private lawyer, Rev Dill came to his current role in 2005. He and his wife Fiona have six children.

Ordained for 30 years, Archdeacon Doughty’s career in the church is a lengthier one, and Rev Dill’s current experience as a team player who prefers to go out in the community stands in contrast to the Archdeacon’s strong administrative role.

Asked what he could bring to the job, Archdeacon Doughty said: “A main issue is the unity of Diocese — getting all the parishes and clergy working together with a shared vision of where we feel God is calling us to go. Unity is number one. Then we have challenges to do with the recruitment and deployment of the clergy. Full Bermudianisation of the church has to happen, which means Bermudians accepting Bermudian clergy, setting up a proper system of support. It’s about the church maturing.

“The worldwide recession affects the church as much as it affects everyone else. We’re seeing a lot more people in need. A lot of parishes are doing food programmes and soup kitchens, trying to support the homeless and the hungry. Here at St Mary’s we have an advent project trying to help people with their Belco bills.”

Bermuda bucked another trend in 2009: the Island’s Synod voted to ordain women three years ago. Although no women have been ordained yet — Archdeacon Doughty hinted it was “possible in the near future” — the move means that, technically at least, there could have been female applicants for the top job on the Island.

The ordination of women didn’t pass a recent vote in the UK, which Archdeacon Doughty said had come as a “surprise and a shock” — but the Synod system of government moves “slowly and carefully”, he added.

“It was a disappointment, but it will happen in time.”

He returned to Bermuda from the UK 18 years ago and became Rector of St Mary’s in 1995. He and his wife Rosie have three children.

Surveying Bermuda’s Anglican community, the Archdeacon said: “According to Government’s 2010 stats, the Anglican remains the largest denomination, with 10,138 members. From our own church statistics in 2010, we have 1,780 people whom you would expect to see in church every Sunday.

“Our primary task of the next few years will be to reach out to the 8,500 somewhat lapsed Anglicans and restore them to fellowship and worship.”

Added Archdeacon Doughty: “Another concern is that the biggest growth in 2010 was the 11,406 people who declared they had no religion. That’s one out of six people who are comfortable declaring they have none — but the world needs spirituality, and needs God, so there is plenty of work to do here in Bermuda.”

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Published Dec 13, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 13, 2012 at 1:55 am)

Bishop of Bermuda hopefuls look to the future

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