Church in the Province of the West Indies

The Anglican Church came to the West Indies with the original British settlers during the 17th century. The clergy came as chaplains to governors, tutors to the families of wealthy planters or merchants and rectors of parishes. They were not under any ecclesiastical authority. The bishop of London ordained and licensed them but had no power to appoint or remove them. A significant change came in 1824 with the creation of the diocese of Jamaica (which included the Bahamas and the settlement in the Bay of Honduras) and the diocese of Barbados (which included the Leeward Islands, the Windward Islands, Tobago, Trinidad and Guyana). Later in the 19th century, six other dioceses were created to constitute the present eight. The Province of the West Indies was formally established in 1883. Venezuela, formerly part of the diocese of Trinidad, became a separate diocese in 1975 and separated from the province in 1980.

Initially the provincial synod consisted entirely of bishops. This was changed in 1959, when the synod became fully representative with the addition of clergy and laity. Meetings of synod are held every three years. The doctrinal stance of the province is set out in the following principles: The faith of the Lord Jesus Christ as taught in the holy scriptures, held in the primitive church, summed up in the creeds, and affirmed by the undisputed ecumenical councils; the faith, doctrine, sacraments and discipline of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, such as the Church of England has received the same; the Book of Common Prayer and the ordering of bishops, priests and deacons, as agreeable to the Word of God. The province disclaims for itself the right of altering any of the aforesaid standards of faith and doctrine.

The Anglican Church in this province is concerned to be the leaven for a diverse community, seeking to counter the problems of disunity, economic dependence, and foreign domination. As the societies seek to unite, the church tries to keep alive issues of justice, peace and the integrity of life.