Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Devon Dick | Enos Nuttall Proclaimed the Full Gospel

Published:Thursday | June 2, 2016 | 6:00 AM

On Monday, the National Library, under the leadership of Mrs Hudson, mounted an exhibition to mark the outstanding contribution of the late Archbishop Enos Nuttall (1842-1916) as a churchman and nation builder. This year marks the centenary of his death.

The surname Nuttall is well known in Jamaica, with the Nuttall Memorial Hospital being named after Enos Nuttall, who introduced Jamaica's first private nursing home, which was later expanded into a hospital. There is the famous maternity ward of this hospital, where the children of many well-to-do families were delivered.

Nuttall can be said to have proclaimed the full gospel. By gospel, it is not meant a particular genre of music. Rather, it is the good news about Jesus the Christ as the one through whom we can overcome the power of sin and experience a fulsome life that affects the society for good. Nuttall was a pastor to his congregation as well as to his country. He had a passion for lost souls and compassion for those living in slum conditions. He wanted God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, which meant that persons could have a foretaste of heaven on earth.

 

A REMARKABLE FEAT

 

The guest speaker at the launch of the exhibition, Ambassador Burchell Whiteman, stated that Nuttall confirmed 20,000 Christians when he served as the longest-serving bishop of Jamaica (1880-1916). This is a remarkable feat when it is considered that the Anglican population is now about 32,000. The numerical growth of the Anglican Church has slowed since the time of Nuttall. Perhaps part of the secret of Nuttall has to do with his visiting all the Anglican churches thrice during his time.

Nuttall played a leading role in negotiations for the disestablishment of the Anglican Church. This meant that the Anglican Church was no longer the State Church funded by the government. In addition, the disestablishment meant all denominations were equal. Perhaps Nuttall was motivated to be involved in that process because he came to Jamaica as a Methodist. Perhaps the moral of that story is that denominations need to cooperate more, not only in ministry but in witness, pulpit exchange and breaking of bread. Unity in Christ is a given, which all denominational leaders have a responsibility to preserve.

Nuttall also helped to draft rules for the selection of Rhodes scholars. He made a significant contribution to education and this legacy has been built on, making the Anglicans the leading denomination in terms of ownership of high and primary schools. The Anglicans have traditional high schools such as St Hugh's, St Hilda's, DeCarteret, Kingston College, Queen's, St Jago, Glenmuir, Bishop Gibson and Black River, not to mention more than 100 primary schools. The Anglicans cooperate with governments for the delivery of quality education.

 

A ROLE IN NAT'L DEVELOPMENT

 

Perhaps Nuttall's signal contribution to nation building was that he chaired the committee for the restoration of Kingston after the great earthquake of 1907. That earthquake left devastation in the city and has been the worst earthquake in our history. Nuttall showed that the clergy can play a role in national development. Some persons were critical when former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller gave policy direction that a member of the clergy should be a director on each government board. It would be good to analyse what effect clergy persons had on governance and corruption. Did the boards, chaired by clergy persons, show any marked difference in producing annual reports, innovative thinking and strategic plans? Were these boards marked by ethical conduct and improved profits and efficiency? Nuttall showed that clergy persons have much to contribute to nation building

Thanks to the National Library for keeping his memory alive.

- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.