Friday 26th January, 2007
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European Churches meet German EU presidency

German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier
German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Photo: NATO)

Churches have a specific role in the European integration process, German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said during a 15th January meeting with representatives from European Churches. The Berlin Declaration and the future of the Constitutional Treaty were the main themes of the meeting between the German EU presidency and the representatives of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) - of which the Church of Ireland is a full member Church - and the Roman Catholic Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE).

On 25th March, EU leaders will mark the European Union’s 50th anniversary with the Berlin Declaration on its fundamental values and objectives.



The Conference of European Churches (CEC) has clearly started 2007 in top gear. Representatives of the Geneva-based body, of which the Church of Ireland has been a member Church since the ecumenical organisation’s inception in 1959, last week held important talks with the new German presidency of the European Union, and also, earlier this month, a top-level CEC delegation paid a visit to the Lebanon in order to play a part in forwarding the cause of peace in the Middle East. Full Text

Home News

St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, contributes to charitable causes

he Dean’s Verger, Louis Parminter (right), hands over a cheque to Alice Leahy of Trust
The Dean’s Verger, Louis Parminter (right), hands over a cheque to Alice Leahy of Trust.

St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, has recently contributed €55,542.38 to charitable causes throughout Dublin. The money became available through a combination of donations from members of the congregation and visitors to the Cathedral. The collections at the two Christmas carol services raised almost €20,000 of this total, with the remainder coming from the Sunday Eucharist collections and donations for candles.

Divine Healing Ministries hosts special services of healing

Bishop Ken Clarke Michael Perrott
Bishop Ken Clarke Michael Perrott

The Rt Revd Ken Clarke, Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh, will be the guest speaker at the interdenominational healing service in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, on Monday 29th January, at 8.00pm. Worship at this service will be led by the Lisburn Cathedral Music Group. These healing services have been running every Monday evening since February 1993, and over that time, it has been reported that many have experienced great healing.

Outreach trip supports missionary work in Thailand

Andrew Thompson (2nd left) is pictured with some of the children in one of the slum areas of Pattaya
Andrew Thompson (2nd left) is pictured with some of the children in one of the slum areas of Pattaya.

A group of young people from St Patrick’s parish, Coleraine, Diocese of Connor, and the parish of Maghera, Diocese of Derry, recently travelled on an outreach mission trip to Thailand. The group was led by Ian Hannah, director of music at St Patrick’s, and his wife, Ruth. In Thailand, the group joined with a community of Christians representing a number of countries taking part in an event called Pattaya Praise. The overall purposes of the visit were to meet and support Christian missionaries who were working full-time in Pattaya, mostly among the many prostitutes in the city, and to convey to people there something of the nature of Christian love and joy.

APCK books for ordinands scheme

Following the granting of a Cy Prés scheme, in 2006 for the first time, out of income from trust funds under its management, the Association for Promoting Christian Knowledge (APCK) was able to provide books for those training for ordination in the Church of Ireland Theological College. Students for both the stipendiary and non-stipendiary ministries were included. All but the last few difficultto- locate books have been supplied, covering a very wide range of titles, and the value of the books provided was in excess of €12,000. Students entering their first year’s training were able to apply for books up to a value of €300;

New CD seeks to equip churches to welcome ‘strangers’

EMBRACE , a Christian charity drawn from across the denominations , aims to promote a positive response towards people seeking asylum, refugees, migrant workers and people from minority ethnic backgrounds in Northern Ireland. It also attempts to reflect Gospel values and equip churches to welcome ‘strangers’ by providing information, training and resource materials and by acting as a channel for practical help to those in need.

Tribute paid to active life of Church of Ireland layman

In paying tribute to Lt. Col. Charles George Horatio Filor, who died recently at the age of 91, Bishop Samuel Poyntz referred to "a remarkable sociable life of service to family, Church, community, province and nation". Bishop Poyntz outlined the many varied organisations with which Col. Filor, who was affectionately known as ‘Barney’, was associated in the course of his long and active life. Keenly interested in community regeneration, he was pivotal to the new Community Association in Tennant Street and district, Crumlin Road, Belfast, whose offices today carry the name Filor Housing Association

New Connor Mothers’ Union President ‘excited and scared’

Moira Thom, a parishioner of Christ Church, Lisburn, is the new President of Connor Mothers’ Union (MU). She succeeds Norma Bell, of Eglantine parish, who completed her six-year term of office at the end of December 2006. Mrs Thom first became involved in the MU in St Patrick’s parish, Broughshane, more than 20 years ago. She and her husband, Edmund, and their three children - Louise, Rachael and Robin - later moved to Ballymena and then to Lisburn, where they joined the parish of Lisburn Cathedral and where she led the Cathedral branch of the MU for five years in the mid- 1990s.


The Revd Garth Bunting (centre) is pictured following his institution as rector of Upper Malone, Diocese of Connor, with Bishop Alan Harper (right) and Bishop James Mehaffey

The Revd Garth Bunting (centre) is pictured following his institution as rector of Upper Malone, Diocese of Connor, with Bishop Alan Harper (right) and Bishop James Mehaffey, who preached at the service.

New Year Bell Ringers

Canon Stuart Lloyd with the Honorary Society of Bellringers

Canon Stuart Lloyd (left) is pictured with members of the Honorary Society of Bellringers who rang in the new year in St Patrick’s, Ballymena, Diocese of Connor.


The Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd John Neill, is pictured with Aileen Egan

The Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd John Neill, is pictured with Aileen Egan who was recently appointed Director of Nursing at St John’s House Nursing Home, Dublin.

50th Anniversary

founder-members of St Comgall’s cutting the anniversary cake

The parish of St Comgall, Rathcoole (Newtownabbey), Diocese of Connor, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with a week of celebrations, including a thanksgiving service, a Gospel concert, a parish dinner and a ‘Hymns of Praise’ evening. Pictured (above) are some of the founder-members of St Comgall’s cutting the anniversary cake at the parish dinner.

World News

International finance pledges to Sudan must hold, Lutheran leader

If the international community wants the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement for south Sudan to hold, it must meet financial pledges agreed to when the pact was signed, according to world Lutheran leader, the Revd Ishmael Noko. "When the Sudan conference took place, there were pledges made. Lots of money was promised and not much has been done," Dr Noko told journalists in Nairobi.

Sri Lankan Churches call for repeal of anti-terrorism legislation

The Revd Kingsley Perera, chairperson of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka, has backed a call by Churches in the country for the repeal of anti-terrorism legislation, intended to curb support for ethnic Tamil rebels with whom government forces are in near full-fledged war. He warned that the edict could impact on Church activities, saying: "This is a draconian law and we cannot remain silent on this.’’

Church of Nigeria’s House of Bishops emphasises scriptural authority

At a meeting earlier this month, the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria deliberated extensively on the theme of ‘Empowered Leadership’ and expressed the conviction that leadership is a trust from God. In a statement, the bishops said: "We believe that the cornerstones of good leadership include honesty, integrity, sacrifice, selflessness and accountability. We, therefore, call on our leaders to ensure that such qualities guide their conduct in and out of office, bearing in mind the judgment of posterity. We strongly reject the prevailing conception of power as an avenue for personal enrichment.’’

Roman Catholic Church still reeling from Archbishop’s secret police revelation

Commentators in Rome said the Church was reeling from the implications of the affair almost one week after the new Archbishop of Warsaw resigned, admitting contacts with Poland’s communist-era secret police. The Rome-based la Repubblica newspaper reported that Pope Benedict XVI was "furious" about those who had withheld information from him about Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus.

US Presiding Bishop responds to Bush speech on Iraq

Episcopal Church, USA Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has responded to President George Bush’s 10th January speech on Iraq, and related US military activity, noting that "the road to peace goes through Jerusalem, not Baghdad’’.

Letters to the Editor

Focus on Dioceses of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh

The Revd Arthur Barrett, Diocesan Communications Officer, contributes this month’s Diocesan Focus article on Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh.


There can be little doubt in the minds of those who live in the Dioceses of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh (KEA) that things are happening. Over the past five years or so, changes have been taking place which have brought new life and energy to the united diocese. New clergy have taken up challenging and exciting ministries; the diocesan Forward! initiative (to help grow healthy parishes) has brought new life to parishes; a large-scale diocesan review has taken place in Kilmore; and a number of parish-level projects give great hope for the future. However, like all parishes and dioceses throughout the Church of Ireland, there are also great challenges. Many small, rural parishes continue to struggle financially; larger, urban parishes face challenges associated with the changing social climate in Ireland; and the geographical nature of such a large diocese presents its own difficulties. Children enjoying the facilities at the new Catacombs, Calry church, Sligo.
Children enjoying the facilities at the new Catacombs, Calry church, Sligo.



Church has to ‘fight its corner’

The Revd Ian Poulton interviews the broadcaster, David McWilliams

David McWilliams
David McWilliams

The economist, writer and broadcaster, David McWilliams, was a keynote speaker at a recent one-day ‘think tank’ organised by the Hard Gospel Project to reflect on the past 15 years in the Republic of Ireland. His book, The Pope’s Children, flew off the bookshelves at the end of 2005. Topping the bestsellers list, it was a survey of the generation which had risen in Ireland since the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979. The book went into a paperback edition and was followed by the RTE television series, Searching for the Pope’s Children, in autumn 2006. David McWilliams was interviewed by the Revd Ian Poulton for Religious News Network about those people he had encountered during the RTE series.

Having watched your three television programmes, I didn’t get a sense that the people you met had any spiritual values. Do the Pope’s Children have a soul?

I don’t think they have any particular spiritual values in the old fashioned sense, but nor did their parents. It’s the middle-aged who are setting the tone for materialism in this country; if you look out the window here in Killiney, the people driving the big cars are not kids, they are dads and mums and golf club members. Ultimately, I don’t think this obsession with materialism is located in a certain demographic, I think it’s almost ubiquitous. I think you have a culture that is not dissimilar from the age of 55 down in Ireland. If you go to the local pub here tonight, you will see that the aspirations of the middleaged are setting the tone for the younger generation. I think there is very little spirituality anywhere in the country, no matter what age you are talking about. If there is no spirituality, did you discern values? What sort of values do people live by?


‘Going anywhere nice?’

I wonder is it too late to go into hairdressing? Of course, the reality is that I could never do it - imagine the strain of attempting to transform a head of limp, greyish brown hair into something stylish, or of ensuring the customer’s required shade of colour, or of cutting a fringe straight, and think of perms and what disasters could ensue. So, on second thoughts, perhaps not, although it does seem to me a very lucrative occupation at the present time. I confess I haven’t told any of my family for years exactly what my ‘hair’ costs each time I take a little trip into the salon. In my experience, hairdressers fall into one of two categories. First, there is the adolescent, or so it seems, who wears the outlandish hair style with matching attire. They’re learning the trade, are dismissive and certainly their interest in the middleaged woman in front of them extends no further than glib conversation about planned holidays and nights out.


By Ted Woods

There are at least two occasions when parochial bun fights don’t require the clergy or clergy families’ input. Farewells/presentations and institutions. Steve’s Institution was a happy occasion for everyone – except for the parishioners from St Patrick’s who were genuinely sad to lose Steve, Fiona, Andrew and Laura. For St David’s, the Institution marked the end of a vacancy; for St Patrick’s, the beginning of a time of uncertainty and lack of direction. Bishop Bill preached far too long. His clergy knew the signals. When he placed his hands behind him, as if supporting his back, they knew they were in for a long sermon. And with Mrs Grace not there to curtail him with her glasses, the congregation’s fate was sealed!

News Extra

First Archdeacon of Belfast appointed

Canon Barry Dodds

Canon Barry Dodds

Canon Barry Dodds, rector of St Michael’s in Belfast’s Shankill Road for the past 26 years, has been appointed as the firstever Archdeacon of Belfast, Diocese of Connor. Traditionally, Connor has had two archdeaconries - Connor and Dalriada. The creation of a new Archdeaconry of Belfast was agreed at the Diocesan Synod last October to distribute more fairly the workload among the archdeacons

Enthronement of Archbishop of Armagh

The new Archbishop of Armagh will be enthroned in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, on Friday 16th March at 2.30pm. Members of the Standing Committee,the Representative Church Body, and representatives from Armagh and Connor Dioceses (and spouses) will be among those invited. Others wishing to attend are asked to contact the Cathedral Office: 028 3752 3142.

Creating a new musical tradition

By Michael Callender

A number of Church of Ireland worshippers were amongst a large congregation at St Peter’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Belfast, on Saturday 13th January, at the start of a new tradition in Irish church music. The choir, Melisma, conducted by Philip Stopford, who is also Director of Music at Belfast Cathedral, sang the Missa Vox Clamantis by Duarte Lobo and motets from the rich heritage of European renaissance polyphony. The newlyappointed Administrator of the Cathedral, the Very Revd Dr Hugh Kennedy, sang the Mass in the original Latin text.

C. of E. guarded over Archbishop-elect’s monarchy comments

A spokesperson for the Church of England has responded guardedly to Archbishop of Armagh-elect Alan Harper’s view that the 1701 Act of Settlement ban on Roman Catholics, or those married to Roman Catholics, ascending the throne should be abolished. Archbishop-elect Harper was quoted as saying that the 1701 Act "belongs to its time and we should move on" and that the Church of England would be the better for disestablishment.