Sat | Dec 5, 2020

Letter of the Day | Rev Canon Ernle was a great thinker

Published:Monday | November 16, 2020 | 12:08 AM
Reverend Canon Ernle Gordon.
Reverend Canon Ernle Gordon.

THE EDITOR, Madam:

The late Rev Canon Ernle Patrick Gordon was a fearless, prophetic priest, who was like a John the Baptist to the Jamaican politicians, and many would have preferred him beheaded. While most of his articles and letters were published in the Jamaica Observer, he was never overlooked by The Gleaner, which sometimes clashed with him over his theology.

According to former journalist Billy Hall, Canon Gordon “has been for many years a prolific writer to newspapers and articles, contributing letters and articles that have mostly espoused or embraced radical views – theological, socially, and ideologically”. Gordon, however, explained his position in The Sunday Gleaner of December 7, 1980, when he wrote, “too many Jamaicans are using narrow party political ideas to view my genuine theological interpretations”. Such was his confidence, and as a priest, he believed in empowering the disenfranchised.

Canon Gordon was one of the few priests, along with Canon Peter Mullings, who held the Bishop’s licence as an exorcist. He once shared the story of him heading up to Stony Hill to perform the rite, and how the demons tried to force his vehicle off the road. He was never afraid, and having rebuked the spirit, continued the journey to complete his spiritual warfare. I learnt from him not to fear “friend nor foe;” and because of his example, I worked among the children of the Tower Hill mission for one whole year, never missing a Sunday school, even on occasions when gunmen caused many people to fear their own shadow.

In 2003, I was instrumental in facilitating his first published book, After Alpha - What? where he “looks at some of those areas that must be addressed by the Church if we are going to import ‘potted plants’ to supplement the teaching ministry of the Church” (from the preface).

In 2006, in celebration of his 40 years to the diaconate, I published Spiritual Vibes, A Collection of Articles by Canon Ernle Patrick Gordon. This book consisted of seven of his published articles in the Jamaica Observer, was to honour him, “not reform the ideas of the past, so that they will justify the conditions and conflictions of present, but to begin to take risks, so that the theological positions ... put forward will advance the consciousness of the ... people and allow them not only to see clearly where they are going, but to challenge the new paradigm shifts”.

It is my prayer that God will raise up among the Church a clergy that would emulate the teaching ministry of this great thinker whose “kerygmatic affirmations and appeals, as that which constitutes a summons, to believe the gospel are grounded in Anglican incarnational theology, and the prophetic and sacramental role of the priest” (‘The Theology of Ernle Gordon’ by Dudley McLean, Jamaica Observer, February 26, 2013).

My condolences to his wife Mrs Juliet Gordon and family.

DUDLEY C. MCLEAN II

Mandeville, Manchester