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Straight-talking Canon Gordon hailed as man of the people

Published:Friday | November 13, 2020 | 12:20 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Reverend Canon Ernle Gordon.
Reverend Canon Ernle Gordon.
Father Ernle Gordon pastored the congregation at St Mary's Anglican Church, at the intersection of Molynes Road and Washington Boulevard, for many years.
Father Ernle Gordon pastored the congregation at St Mary's Anglican Church, at the intersection of Molynes Road and Washington Boulevard, for many years.
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One of the Anglican Church’s most outspoken and controversial priests, the Reverend Canon Ernle Gordon, died yesterday at the age of 82.

A prolific writer and author of many works, Gordon was ordained a priest in 1968 and spent most of his ministry as rector of St Mary the Virgin Church in Drewsland, St Andrew, serving there for 40 years until his retirement in 2012. In 2002, he was installed a canon of the Cathedral of St Jago de la Vega in Spanish Town, St Catherine.

In announcing his death yesterday, the Most Reverend Howard Gregory, archbishop of the West Indies and Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, in his Clergy Letter announcing the death, said Gordon “became a national figure through his preaching and public engagement of social and political issues during some of the most challenging decades of the post-Independence period”.

Continued Gregory: “In this regard, he is identified with the Anglican tradition of socially active clergy, such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the late Bishop Colin Winter.”

Yesterday, residents of Drewsland hailed Gordon as a lover of people, a man who was never afraid of criticism, and one always willing to lend a helping hand.

WILLING TO HELP

Shop owner Marlene Harley said that even after his retirement, Gordon was always willing to assist residents of the community.

“He was a nice man. You could go to him for anything. He never said no. If you have a paper to sign, he would sign it. If anybody in the community want a work, you could get a recommendation from Father. He used to walk the community, and when Christmas come, him would issue tickets for events,” she said.

Shernett Walker, who said that she knew Gordon for roughly 30 years, told The Gleaner that he was never afraid to stop by her bar to engage in captivating discussions and offer encouragement to young people.

“Sometimes he would lime with us at the bar and buy people drinks. Some people take offence to that, but that wasn’t an offence to him because him nuh really drink, but will sit with us and talk to the young people. He was a good person,” Walker said. “Him look out for people, and him give you walk-and-talk moments, and him look out fi children. Whatever assistance you want, you could always go to Father.”

Gordon was never afraid to state his views strongly and criticise the leaders of the State and the Church.

He once said that “too many preachers are concerned about the size of their congregations, and as the number of worshippers dwindles, they have resorted to using fear tactics to lure people to Heaven. You don’t frighten people into Heaven. You lead people into Heaven … . You discuss with them their lives, and then you nurture them”.

A passionate nationalist, one of his latest works, published in 2014, Liberation Theology – Articles and Essays, tackles many controversial issues, including homosexuality, partisan politics, and the role of the Church.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com