Service marks 350 years of 1662 Book of Common Prayer
Last week, a special service of Evensong was held in St Paul’s Cathedral, London, marking the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
The first Book of Common Prayer, of 1549, is associated with Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and the 1662 revision, still the official prayer book of the Church of England, although widely displaced by the alternative Common Worship prayer book, was largely the work of Bishop John Cosin, Bishop of Durham from 1660-1672.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, attended last week’s service, along with members of Prayer Book societies in different countries.
A recent meeting in London of the Anglican Communion Communications Working Group found that the Communion faces a shortage of qualified communicators and concluded that the Communion’s life is “at risk of being detrimentally affected by some Provinces’ inability to source and share their news and stories widely”. Moreover, the vital nature of communicating proactively, and not only reactively, was also stressed.
The Anglican Communion’s Director for Communication, Jan Butter, drew attention to the massive changes that have taken place in communications over just the last ten years, citing the Internet, mobile phone technology and the social media as challenging the way in which the Anglican Communion “can and should engage in God’s mission”.
A member of the Working Group, Bishop Anthony Poggo of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, indicated that the meeting had made several recommendations to strengthen Anglican Communion communications, including conducting a Communion-wide audit to identify gaps in Provinces’ communications systems and structures, strengthening the Anglican Communion website and News Service, and providing training in communications for both communicators and clergy. The Bishop drew special attention to what he described as a “key recommendation”, namely, that every Province should have at least one paid, qualified Communications Director.
There is no doubt that the Anglican Communion, embracing such a wide diversity of nations, all at different stages of development, faces a considerable challenge to improve Communionwide communication. However, the Communion is fortunate to have the services of Mr Butter himself, who keeps a careful watching brief on Communion affairs. Then again, at our own Church of Ireland level, we are especially fortunate to have a very effective Press Office. The Church of Ireland’s Press Officer, Dr Paul Harron, can show the way to any Province in the Communion in how to go about helping the media cover Church affairs. Certainly, Dr Harron is always of great assistance to the Gazette.
The purpose of Church communication is not only to let people know what is going on and to convey insights on relevant topics, but it is also about helping build up the Body of Christ through showing the Church as it really is, and not simply as we would want to be seen. What really helps to build the Church up is not spin about ourselves, but the truth about ourselves.
Indeed, that is encapsulated in the Anglican Communion’s motto: “The truth shall set you free” (John 8: 32). The truth can, at times, be difficult to handle, but it is always liberating.
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Letters to the Editor
Easter General Vestry meetings
The Church’s year begins in late November or early December; the calendar year begins in January; the tax year begins in early April; financial years begin at various times, depending on the institution with which we are dealing; we celebrate the ‘birthday of the Church’ at Pentecost; most of our parish organisations begin their year in September – and the Easter General Vestry meeting of each Church of Ireland parish takes place, as its name implies, either shortly before or shortly after Easter.
However, I sometimes wonder whether this is the best time of the year for this particular meeting. It tends to mean that the Easter General Vestry meeting is followed by a couple of monthly meetings of the new Select Vestry which then – barring emergencies – having barely got into its stride, goes into abeyance for the summer, so that, by the time it next meets in September, nearly half the year has gone.
Now, it may be that any alternative arrangement would have its attendant mixture of pros and cons and that any change would involve vast upheaval in other respects. However, I cannot help wondering whether a different time of the year for this meeting might not bring some advantage with it. I wonder what, if anything, other Gazette readers might think about this.
John Budd (Canon), Derriaghy Rectory Lisburn Co. Antrim BT28
Proposed Royal visit to General Synod
Members who attended the 2008 General Synod in Galway will remember that the visit of President Mary McAleese was an historic and significant occasion for the whole Church of Ireland.
A lady of immense ability, she spoke with conviction and compassion and impacted on the hearts of the delegates present.
The visit of Her Majesty the Queen to the Republic last year was largely due to the trojan work done by President McAleese to improve relations between our two countries.
Following President McAleese’s visit and address to Synod, I raised the question at Standing Committee in 2008 about the possibility of a senior member of the Royal Family attending and addressing General Synod, which would be in keeping with the spirit of mutual respect between different traditions so rightly championed by the Church of Ireland, not least in the Hard Gospel process.
The Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw, wrote: “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.”
The visit of the Queen to the Republic was a dream fulfilled – and more besides. When the Queen and President, two ladies of very different backgrounds, stood together in the Garden of Remembrance, they did so in a common cause to rebuild respect between their countries. Irish nationalism was in no way threatened by the presence of the Queen.
It was, if anything, the coming of age of a nation to welcome the Head of a neighbouring State. This was the start of a new journey, a visit at the invitation of a very courageous and visionary lady President, to help heal the hurts of centuries between England and Ireland.
I firmly believe a visit by a senior member of the Royal Family to General Synod could only be positive and continue the healing process. I recognise that considerable forward planning is necessary, but surely it is ‘do-able’.
The lead given by former President McAleese must be seized by the Church and now is the time to engage in positive discussions for such a visit to Armagh in 2013.
I trust the matter will be given serious consideration.
John F.A. Bond (The Very Revd) The Rectory Broughshane Co. Antrim
Border Trail invitation extended
I wish to advise your readers, and more particularly clergy and laity within the Church of Ireland, about a project with which I am associated and in which I would encourage participation.
The victims’ group, South East Fermanagh Foundation (SE FF), of which I am Director of Services, has developed a Border Trail of South Eastern Fermanagh.
It allows people to pay tribute to the memory of, and walk respectfully in the footsteps of, some of those who perished at the hands of terrorists during the Northern Ireland Troubles.
Across Co. Fermanagh, 112 people were killed. In South East Fermanagh, 11 of these people were killed at Lisnaskea, 14 at Rosslea, 13 in Newtownbutler, three in Maguiresbridge and one in Brookeborough. These atrocities and the fear of further attacks forced an exodus of Protestant farmers from the Border area.
The SE FF Border Trail seeks to give visitors a sense of the deep hurts inflicted on communities and to demonstrate the humility of those affected, explaining their resolve and heroism in surviving gross acts of injustice.
For further information,please contact me at the SE FF office, tel. 028 6772 3884, or mob. 07900 882770.
Kenny Donaldson Coa, Ballinamallard, Co. Fermanagh BT92 0FS
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