Christine Gooden Benguche – A journey in faith
Bishop Christine Gooden-Benguche is the first appointed female president of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas, Jamaica District. She is the successor to Bishop Everald Galbraith, who headed the Jamaica Methodist District for nine years and has now been appointed president of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas.
Rev Gooden Benguche was selected to become the new head of the Methodist Church in Jamaica at the district conference held in January of 2018. Before this nomination, she served in several circuits both in Guyana and in Jamaica and is currently the superintendent minister for the Western St Andrew and Grateful Hill circuits, as well as the District Conference Secretary.
Jamaica's population of women outnumbers that of men and women have increasingly been taking up leadership positions in the society, the church is no different.
This is especially true in the Methodist and Moravian churches as well as the Jamaica Baptist Union.
Opinions on the value of women as leaders of the church has split opinions down the middle, with some celebrating the change and others holding to the idea that men and men alone have the right to decide the direction of religious institutions.
In an article posited by The Gleaner titled Women Take Lead – Females To Head Three Of Jamaica's Larger Christian Denominations, Reverend Dr Stevenson Samuels explains how the elevation of women to leadership roles demonstrates an unprecedented move within the Jamaican Christian community.
She says “I think it speaks volumes for women and also speaks a lot for the Christian community, which has put forward these women to provide leadership. I must acknowledge this bold and big move by the Christian community which is unlike many institutions in Jamaica,” said Samuels.
Bishop Benguche is one of those women who have had to navigate the backlash that comes with change. Gooden-Benguche told the The Gleaner she believes her country suffers from a culture of impatience and wants to implement programmes that can help shift that mindset.
“What has happened is that we have given our children far more freedom, and the idea is that because we (parents) have gone through challenges. There is no way we are going to allow our child to go through hardship,” she stated.
“That there is a lack of appreciation for the hard work.”
Bishop Benguche is among one of the leaders in the church that is recognized for the leadership role she plays. She is one of those women, helping to empower women in the church and the broader society.
When the Bishop received awards for her service from the Soroptimist Club and the Kiwanis Club of Stony Hill, it was more about her work outside of the church.
Bishop Gooden-Benguche has also chaired the boards of the Allman Hill Primary and Junior High School, as well as the Red Hill's Primary School.
She has also acted as Chaplain for the St Andrew's Prep School and the Shortwood Teachers' College and chairs the board of Morant Bay High School. She also sits on the Board of Management of the Excelsior Education Centre.
Gooden-Benguche isn't just associated with teaching at the board level, but has also taught at the Presbyterian Bible College, she has been the guidance counsellor at Charlemont and Ewarton High Schools, in St Catherine and at Vere Technical High School in Clarendon. At the university level, she has taught at the International University of the Caribbean.