COI Gazette – 12th January 2017

Resilience and forgiveness

(Left to right): Seamus Farrell, Shannon Wilkinson, Maureen Wilkinson and Archdeacon Robert Miller

(Left to right): Seamus Farrell, Shannon Wilkinson, Maureen Wilkinson and Archdeacon Robert Miller

The Archdeacon of Derry and rector of Christ Church Londonderry, the Ven. Robert Miller, was among those who recently facilitated a discussion about resilience and forgiveness at the Holywell Diverse City Community Partnership in Londonderry.

The event, in Bishop Street, was part of Towards Understanding and Healing’s SEUPB Peace 4-funded ‘Valued Voices Programme’.

The session – which was described as “constructive and nonjudgmental” – opened with a piece of drama about ‘the past’, performed by mother and daughter, Maureen and Shannon Wilkinson. As well as being a well-known local actor, Maureen has lost a loved one to violence in the city.



Small choices + consistency + time = significant results. This is part of the formula for creating change in our lives, as suggested by Darren Hardy in his book The Compound Effect. He seems to suggest that any change we desire is more likely to come from small regular actions, rather than a big-bang effect of doing something instantly. The book suggests that “success is doing a half dozen things really well, repeated five thousand times”.

The season of New Year resolutions leaves us all too familiar with the frustration of setting unrealistic goals for ourselves. Setting our sights on something more achievable – small choices + consistency + time – may be the better way to go. This principle is well described in Moira Thom’s column this week (page 6). Is it possible to apply this principle of small choices + consistency + time = significant results to the place of scripture in living out our Christian faith?

The thought of regular Bible reading can be a source of guilt for us – the vague sense that it is a good thing to do, but that life is so busy we never quite manage it. How would we find the time and where would we begin? Perhaps time to beware of setting yet more unrealistic goals – ones that feed frustration with ourselves rather than spiritual nourishment.

Last year marked the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It was the occasion for commemorations across the world, including by the Church of Ireland. One of the important tenets of the Reformation was the belief that the Bible should be accessible to the ordinary person and that its teachings were key to faith and practice.

The Oxford Bibliographies tell us that the canon of the Christian Bible was fixed by the 3rd century, and the Latin translation of Jerome was in continual use throughout Europe from the beginning of the 5th century until long after the 16th century. Jerome’s translation was called the Vulgate because it was produced for the vulgus, the ‘common people’. After a millennium, however, the common people were not speaking Latin, which had become the preserve of scholars and better-educated clergy.

The Bible was translated into several European languages before the Reformation, and the early reformers, John Wycliffe (England) and Jan Hus (Bohemia), had championed the vernacular Bible. All the major Protestant Reformers from Luther on insisted on translating the Bible into the language of the common people. The doctrine of sola Scriptura (“by Scripture alone”) was at the core of Reformation theology. If the Bible was the basis for Christian belief and practice, it was essential that all Christians be able to read it for themselves. Five hundred years later this still seems like a healthy principle.

In our World News section (page 8), we tell the story of how one member of the US Episcopal Church was inspired to stretch his own spiritual practice. The Revd Marek Zabriskie describes how he was challenged to begin reading the Bible regularly and how he then involved members of his congregation in the practice. Unwittingly, his personal goal helped establish a worldwide movement, The Bible Challenge ( Through this process, Mr Zabriskie found that reading the Bible had a major impact on the kind of Christian faith people had. He says: “It created more committed, articulate, and courageous Christians … It really changes the spiritual DNA of a parish.”

If one of the key tenets of the Reformation was that the Bible was the basis for Christian belief and practice, so that it was essential that all Christians be able to read it for themselves, then how do we find this for ourselves in 2018?

Knowing where to begin with reading the Bible can appear to be the greatest obstacle. It is not an insurmountable one. It can be negotiated by visiting any Christian bookshop or googling something as simple as ‘I want to read the Bible’. The Church of Ireland or diocesan websites may also have a special section on devotional aids. If we use tablet computers or smartphones, the range of available Bible reading aids to suit any type of spirituality is plentiful.

Perhaps the bigger challenge is the same as with making any resolution – to create a doable habit that will stick. That is where the principle of ‘small choices + consistency + time = significant results’ may well come into its own. Reformation often does come in small steps.


Home News

  • Launch of new book by Archbishop of Armagh – reflections on ‘carrying’ one another in service
  • Institution and installations in Cashel, Ferns and Ossory
  • Spirit of Cork Award 2017 presented to Bishop Colton – ‘outstanding leadership’and service recognised
  • Weekend retreat for clergy couples
  • Glendalough clergy meet in Laragh
  • Tribute – Canon John Christopher Bell
  • Prof. Bartlett’s 20-year contribution to Search celebrated



In Perspective – The Janus Factor

Insight – ‘Who will tell the next generation?’ – A response


World News

  • Female evangelical leaders call on church to speak out on violence against women
  • The Bible Challenge: – a personal goal becomes a global movement
  • Gunman opens fire on Cairo church
  • Terrorists target Church Nativity service in Quetta, Pakistan
  • Theologian and religious broadcaster R. C. Sproul dies
  • Laws from the British Raj in India to be repealed
  • Kenyan police foil terror attack and recover gun stolen during attack on church guards


Letters to the Editor

Welcoming the stranger

IN THE week prior to Christmas, I spent a little time at the Christmas crib outside Dublin’s Mansion House, reflecting and observing the interactions of visitors – young and old, clearly from different traditions and backgrounds, no doubt believers and non-believer’s – about the Christmas story.

For me personally, the nativity scene focused my thoughts on a Middle Eastern family who were looking for a place to stay, only to be told there was no room for them.

This time last year, Apollo House became a symbol of resistance for those highlighting the Irish homeless crisis.

The Gospel of Matthew was originally written in Greek, I found myself reflecting on these words “the least of these” is the “stranger” the Greek word translated as stranger is xenos, which can be translated into English as “foreigner, immigrant or stranger.”

The parallels of the Christmas story are simply too relevant to the current refugee and housing crisis for Christians to ignore.

Senator Victor Boyhan Leinster House Dublin

Bethany Home

BEFORE THE current, and now delayed, inquiry into Mother and Baby homes was set up, I made the ministers aware that we needed a ‘two-track’ inquiry into the state’s gross and wilful neglect of its duties to the children in their care for many generations, so that the Bethany Home Survivors could finally get justice and redress after campaigning for 20 years.

A ‘two-track’ approach, separating the Inquiry from the immediate action the government needs to take for survivors, would have given justice and redress to the last handful of living survivors from the notorious Bethany Home, while the inquiry could have carried on independently and separately.

All living survivors who have the paperwork to back up their cases, and not just hearsay, should not be held back by historical research into Tuam and the other Homes.

A full report into the truth is important, but pales into insignificance beside the needs of living human beings waiting for justice. €21 million for this inquiry, but not a cent to elderly and dying survivors.

Shame on this government and Minister Zappone. The professors and researchers are making money while we are dying, and in the final report, the inquiry will regurgitate and repeat what survivors and amateur historians have already told them.

The notorious Bethany Home had more than qualified for inclusion in the Ryan Inquiry and for the Redress Act 2002 but our non-stop lobbying at the time was ignored.

We have a right to answers as to why we were excluded in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2012,and why we are currently dying while the last of us still wait for justice.

The Bethany researchers did not have a shrine or boundary walls to help us find our fallen brothers and sisters. Their innocent bodies were scattered across Mount Jerome cemetery in unmarked graves and forgotten.

There was not a single flower to help us find their unmarked graves, nor for the new ones that our research has now identified, which brings the number to 344 – more cover up and forgotten Irish children,

The State has not spent one penny on our research and this commissioned research will not be able to add more than we gave them over three years ago.

Derek Linster
Rugby England

Same-sex marriage debate

I WONDER if Dermot O’Callaghan might find time to have a look at the following video of David Kato being interviewed before he was bludgeoned to death?

Rupert Moreton (the Revd) Joensuu Finland

Naval gazing

THE RECENT leak on the new British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is utterly irrelevant to the vessel’s future. Whilst the leakage has sensationally been quoted as 200 litres per hour, that’s only 44 gallons per hour: I’ve bailed more out of a rowing boat.

More importantly, the vessel was designed 20 years ago and is clearly not fit for modern warfare, with its ancient computers even running an elderly version of Windows for Warships. The aircraft, which will not arrive for several years, will also be built to similarly antiquated designs.

Far better to repurpose the ship as a replacement Royal yacht. With impending Brexit,
this would excel for Royal visits promoting British trade and diplomacy throughout the world, as were undertaken so successfully by the previous Royal yacht Britannia.

It would certainly give the new generation of Royals something to do, that would generally be perceived as useful even by the most ardent Republican.

The vessel is large enough to throw garden parties on deck or use as a base for overseas sales displays of UK manufactured military equipment (even if we can no longer afford to purchase such kit for our own armed forces).

John Eoin Douglas




Book Review

RADICAL LEADERSHIP Author: Michael Green Publisher: SPCK


News Extra

  • BACI Lenten Bible studies focus on Five Marks of Mission
  • RCB legal guidance for Church minibus drivers in Northern Ireland
  • New youth leaders’ training course to be launched
  • Appointments
  • Retirements