Retired Anglican Bishop of Kingston, the Rt. Rev. Robert McLean Thompson, is grateful to be honoured for almost a half century of service to church and community.
He will receive the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander (CD) at the National Honours and Awards ceremony on Monday (October 19).
Bishop Thompson is one of 126 persons, excluding the uniformed groups, who will be awarded during the National Heroes Day function, which, due to the coronavirus pandemic will be produced as a made-for-television event. It will be aired on television and social media platforms beginning at 8:30 a.m.
The former Anglican Bishop of Kingston, who retired on September 1, 2020 after serving for 15 years, tells JIS News that he feels happy to be recognised.
“I serve not to seek reward but when the people of Jamaica, through the Government, recognise and acknowledge it, then yes, it gives me some level of satisfaction,” he says.
“Even though you are not looking for it, when it comes you have an aha moment, and say well, I am being recognised and I am gratified,” he adds.
Bishop Thompson was ordained as a priest in the Ministry of the Anglican Church 47 years ago.
Over the years, he has served on various boards and committees. He has been a member of the Police Service Commission for nine years, a member of the Kingston College (KC) Board for more than 30 years and served as President of the Young Men’s Christian Association for 12 years.
As Rector at the St Andrew Parish Church in Half-Way-Tree, where he served for 16 years before becoming a Bishop, he was instrumental in the formation of the now defunct Possibility Programme that was established to meet the needs of at-risk youth, especially street boys.
Bishop Thompson tells JIS News that he felt drawn to the needs of the young men, many of them under the age of 12, who were sleeping on the streets and had no proper care or guidance.
He says that after writing to the then Government, he was invited to participate in an initiative, which led to the formation of the Possibility Programme.
Bishop Thompson says that the Church’s intervention led to the setting up of a care centre for the street boys, operated by the Church in partnership with the Government.
“The care centre, to me, was a pivotal initiative in intervening in the lives of the street boys because it was really to care about boys who were unattached,” he notes.
The past student of Jamaica College says he has a passion for helping others, noting that this was instilled in him as a child, having seen both his parents serving in the community.
“So it comes naturally to me that I should serve. So I serve in the Church, that’s my main area of activity, but I also serve in the community,” he adds.
Turning to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the church’s role in the national response, Bishop Thompson says there is need for dialogue with the Ministry of Health as to how the church can help, through its network of volunteers, to maintain social connectivity with persons and visit shut-ins and people, who may feel abandoned.
“It is a challenge to me and the Church as to how we can think again about our responsiveness…because COVID is here for a long time,” he points out.
The retired Bishop, who is in the process of moving out of the official residence, tells JIS News that he intends to spend more time with family, including his two-year-old granddaughter, read and “do some reflection”.
“I would look back at some of the work that I have done and see if I need to share that work with a wider circle… for the deepening of spirituality that is relevant to our times,” he says.
He says that he will also be available to his colleagues “to provide whatever support and counsel they would need or to perform duties within our various congregations”.