COI Gazette – 10th February

Dublin City Interfaith Forum launched

Pictured at the launch of the Dublin City Interfaith Forum are (from left) Philip McKinley, Loganathan Raju, Abba Johannes Kebede, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr Andrew Montague, Katerina Pekridou, Adrian Cristea, Fr Godfrey O’Donnell and John Matthew

The Irish Council Of churches (ICC) and the Office for integration of Dublin City council last week launched the Dublin city interfaith Forum at the civic offices in Wood Quay. The Forum comprises members of the Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh communities.

Acknowledging that dublin’s religious landscape had profoundly changed in the last decade, bringing new challenges and opportunities, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr Andrew Montague, said: “I welcome initiatives, such as this Dublin City Interfaith Forum, which encourage discussion, help build relationships, promote integration, nurture harmony and deepen understanding and respect.”



Last week’s launch of the dublin city interfaith Forum was an important development both in the life of faith communities themselves and in the wider life of the city (report, page 1).

The Forum is a fruit of co-operation between the irish council of churches (ICC) and the city council’s office for integration and, as such, shows how the churches, especially when working together, can attract the support of civic authorities in remarkable ways. the project itself also shows how in today’s world the different faith communities, through being open to each other, can inspire real respect for the mutuality of the relationships involved and can, together, make a difference.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, put his finger on the key issue when he told the Gazette that, in relation to the Forum, “integration” was the key word. Migrants in Ireland today face many challenges in terms of acceptance and, indeed, the rejection they have experienced has even taken violent forms. It has been reported that as many as three in five tds have told how, when canvassing, they have encountered racist attitudes among their constituents, and the phenomenon of ‘recession-racism’ has been recognised. The new Forum will enable the different faith communities and the civic authorities jointly to tackle this blight on the national life.

The Forum represents a development from a previous church-state social integration project that was initiated when Conor Lenihan was Minister for Integration; cut backs have seen that area of work subsumed into the brief of the minister for Justice, equality and law reform. It is noteworthy, however, that at a time when church-state relations are not exactly easy, Dublin City Council and the faith communities have taken an imaginative, collaborative step forward in the interests of social integration and cohesion.

The churches in Ireland connecting in christ grouping, of which the icc is part, has seen dynamic leadership in recent times, not least due to the efforts of the executive officer, mervyn mccullagh, and the driving force of the Bishop of meath and Kildare as ICC President. All concerned in the shaping of the Dublin Interfaith Forum are to be warmly congratulated.

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Letters to the Editor

Same-sex relationships

DELIGHT and dismay are my reactions to the current debate within the church of ireland on human sexuality.

I am delighted that our church is moving from the position of burying its head in the sand to acknowledging that this is both a theological and pastoral challenge that needs to be addressed, whatever the outcome.

My distress comes from the lack of christian love in what should be a conversation between human beings made in the image of God but appears, increasingly, to be a slanging match between ‘Liberals’and‘traditionalists’. The Gazette is to be commended for its determination to report on this matter in a spirit of mutual respect – i only wish that the broader church would follow this approach. My prayer is that the forthcoming synodical meeting and subsequent synods may be open both to the spirit and to the possibility of minds changing.

Niall Johnston (The Revd) Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal


THE GAZETTE is to be commended for its review supplement on ‘same-sex relationships’ (20th January). However, it is regrettable that the gay man felt he had to use a pseudonym and that the lesbian couple had to be imported from the USA.

We do actually have openly gay men and lesbian couples within the Church of Ireland and I hope that their voices will be heard at the March conference on sexuality.

What plans are there for participation by church of ireland gay and lesbian persons in the proposed seminars? What other  opportunities will there be for a listening process event with Church of Ireland gay and lesbian persons during the conference?

By being included, such participation could substantially transform the dynamic of the conference. By its omission, General Synod members will be talking about a group of people, rather than engaging openly and positively with them.

Mervyn Kingston ( The Revd) Holywood Co. Down BT18 0DJ

The Holy Land

In Your news report ‘Palestinian President meets christian leaders’ (27th January), I couldn’t help sensing a certain amount of one-sidedness in the comments quoted from the selected clergymen represented ecumenically at Lambeth Palace.

The moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Revd David Arnott, said that he had “witnessed the effects of occupation and insecurity on the people (singular) of the land”. I presume that he means the Arab people living in the land and not the Jews who reside there.

Insecurity affects both peoples, and certainly the Jewish population centres have been targets of unprovoked terrorism meted out against innocent civilians in cafés and pizza parlours, on board crowded buses and amid bustling street markets, without any warning.

I personally witnessed the sudden deaths of 22 Jewish teenagers horrifically blown to pieces after an Islamic Palestinian suicide bomber detonated his device in the middle of a queue outside a discothèque on tel-aviv’s seafront.

If these Christian leaders genuinely seek peace between these semitic cousins, they should be meeting representatives from the Jewish side too, not just the Sunni Muslim President, Mahmoud Abbas.

There should be more natural dialogue between Jews and Christians, with their shared reverence for the Holy Bible. the Christians living under Muslim domination in Judea and Samaria (de-Judaized into the term ‘West Bank’), and also Gaza, fare less well than their co-religionists under Jewish/Israeli governance.

Arab christians are suffering in Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Gaza, but an honest, closer look will reveal that the Christians there are afraid to publicise the fact that it is the occupation and domination by the muslims in their midst that is the direct cause of their misery and subjugation, not anything that israel does.

Western christians are only making things worse by masking this truth.
Colin Nevin Bangor Co. Down BT19

Church of Ireland Badminton League celebrates 80th anniversary

THE CHURCH of Ireland Badminton league is celebrating its 80th birthday this year and we are calling on any past members and friends who played in church clubs to get in touch and to share their memories.

A special celebration of our 80th anniversary will take place at our annual dinner and Trophies Presentation on Friday 27th April, to be held at Edenmore Golf and country club in Magheralin, Co. Down.

We would be delighted if any past badminton players and friends would like to join us on this occasion.

The league was founded in 1932 “To promote team spirit, fellowship and interest in sport”, as it says in its mission statement. It is one, if not the only, church badminton league still in existence in Northern Ireland today, which is testament to the dedication and support of its members.

Even though the years of ‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland took their toll, the league continued to grow in enthusiasm as an outlet for young people to enjoy the sport.

The league colours are a trefoil of the coats of arms of the Archbishop of Armagh, the Bishop of Down and Dromore and the Bishop of Connor, enclosing a shuttlecock and surrounded by the lettering ‘Church of Ireland Badminton league’; the gentlemen in these three offices, together with others, are Vice-Presidents of the league.

If readers would be interested in sharing their memories and attending the annual dinner, they are invited to contact me (tel. 028 9442 2173; mobile 07929 945188; email: bethmccabe@

Beth McCabe Honorary Secretary Church of Ireland Badminton League,  … Nutts Corner, Crumlin Co. Antrim BT29


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