CofI Gazette – March 2020

COI Gazette A4-March 2020-ONLINE_Page_01


We have all been to a Service of Thanksgiving for someone we didn’t know very well – the parent of a colleague, perhaps, or an old schoolfriend we hadn’t seen in years – and feel like an interloper.

But then, through words and music, we learn more about this person, and feel awe at what they had achieved, the love they inspired, the dreams they nurtured.

So it was, when, as part of the Church of Ireland Press Office team, I attended a Service of Thanksgiving for footballing legend Harry Gregg in St Patrick’s, Coleraine, on February 21.

My knowledge of football is sketchy, but as my surname is often mistakenly pronounced Busby, and being married to Matthew (invariably shortened to Matt), I certainly knew of the ‘Busby Babes,’ of whom Harry was one, and of the Munich Air Disaster, when this young goalkeeper from Northern Ireland selflessly saved the lives of others.

That made Harry Gregg a hero, off the pitch as well as on it. He is a hero, too, to the hundreds of young people who are part of the Harry Gregg Foundation Youth League, with its catchline – ‘Inspire those who have dreams.’

There are other ‘heroes’ in our Church, and in writing for this issue, I was privileged to meet two of them. Flight Lieutenant Bill Eames, now 96, flew supplies and towed gliders across enemy lines during World War Two. He was seriously injured by flak (anti-aircraft fire), but returned to battle. He has never lost his passion for flying. Bill doesn’t consider himself a hero, he believes he was just doing his job.

What defines a hero? Is it someone who refuses to give up and who, like Bill, fights against all odds? If that is so, then Leah Batchelor is another hero. When she suffered locked-in syndrome, the doctors gave her no future. Yet despite continuing challenges, Leah has her life back – not, perhaps, the one she had planned, but, with God by her side, one she is embracing.

We have different ideas of what a hero looks like. And they don’t all wear capes. For the family of Eryn Kirkpatrick (page 2), they may be prisoners, printing books in braille, especially for Eryn; for those sleeping rough, or struggling to buy food, they may be parishioners in Christ Church, Dún Laoghaire, or St Nicholas’, Dundalk (page 18); or for our young people, a hero may be someone who prays for them and leads them in their faith journey (page 35).

We all face our own challenges, and we are all heroes to those we love and to those who love us. When the flak is overwhelming, let us not forget that.


Dublin and Glendalough’s ‘A Place to Call Home’ Appeal comes to an end.

Celebrating the farming year in St Paul’s, Ballymachugh, Diocese of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh.

Nicholas Street, Limerick, gets a makeover!

Farewell service for Archbishop Clarke.

The Spirit of St Patrick – by Tim Campbell, Director of the Saint Patrick Centre, Downpatrick.

The Clive West Memorial Lecture 2020.


‘We have a lot of amazing people’ – Interview with Archdeacon George Davison, Bishop-elect of Connor

Christian Care for Creation – Information about Jubilee, a Christian Care organisation in Co Antrim.

‘I needed God’s help on the journey’ – Leah Batchelor shares her remarkable story of recovery from locked-in syndrome.

Reaching out – Reports on how two parishes are supporting those affected by homelessness.

‘It is important to remember’ – says WW2 veteran Bill Eames, 96.


Social Media focus of youth forum.

Praying for young people and youth ministry – there is much to be thankful for in youth ministry in the Church of Ireland, writes Steve Grasham, Youth Ministry Development Officer (Southern Region), CIYD.


Q&A – We meet Church of Ireland Press Officer Peter Cheney.


How do you define love? With answers from the Rev Canon Ruth Elmes, Archdeacon Stephen McWhirter and the Rev Jonny Campbell-Smyth.



The Archive of the Month features a rector angry at disestablishment, and we hear about the powerful message of the Blessington Covenant, Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough.




The fight to eradicate leprosy – by the Rev Rob Jones, rector of Holy Trinity, Rathmines, who recently visited Chennai, India.

SAMS Friday Night Live event.


Preview of a concert organised by St Columb’s Cathedral, Londonderry, and St Eunan’s Cathedral, Raphoe.

The Lewis Organ at Galoon, Newtownbutler.


What would Jesus do – by the Rev Elizabeth Hanna


Church of England Pension Board – focus on climate change.

Churches support families of Mexican ‘disappeared.


Prisoners bring Bible tales to life – MU seeks support of Maghaberry Prison braille unit to get books translated into braille for Eryn, 8.

Members trained by experts!