COI Gazette – 13th July 2018

Population explosion – how will local churches respond to major housing development?

Revd Norman McCausland (centre) outlines research carried out into new population centres in Dublin at Dublin and Glendalough diocesan councils

Revd Norman McCausland (centre) outlines research carried out into new population centres in Dublin at Dublin and Glendalough diocesan councils

Up to 50,000 new houses are to be built in 14 locations in Greater Dublin in the next five to 10 years. These houses will meet the demands of a rapidly growing population, providing homes for them to live in.

Nevertheless, how will parishes meet the demands of the huge numbers of new people moving into their communities? How will they respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by such rapid housing development?

The question of how the Church of Ireland can contribute to the building of vibrant, sustainable and integrated communities is to be considered by clergy and lay people in key development areas.

Revd Norman McCausland, rector of Raheny and Coolock, presented the findings of research he carried out with Caoimhe Leppard, of the Office of the Archbishop of Dublin, to members of Dublin and Glendalough diocesan councils earlier this month. Their report proposes the formulation of a diocesan missional strategy to meet the challenges and harness the opportunities presented by these developments.




How is conflict dealt with? Might we make two suggestions?

One of the experiences of ending the Troubles in Northern Ireland was when the main protagonists started to reach out to one another. By all accounts, these contacts were very tentative at first, and usually done out of the public glare. But that is one way in which peace is made – when opponents start that slow careful process of beginning to engage with each other, talk to each other and listen.

To consider our second suggestion, we need to think of pavements, footpaths – call them what you will. Imagine how dirty a pavement gets in a day or a week. Think of everything that gets ground into a pavement on any day.

On this page we have previously referenced the example that our young people give to us in living out Christian faith. Specifically, we have talked of how hundreds, possibly thousands of them, will join Streetreach teams to serve local communities at this time of year.

This brings us back to an example of one of those youth programmes. It is the memory of a young teenager on her knees on a pavement, digging weeds out from between the paving slabs. There are few things as disarming as service – it speaks with an eloquence that is hard to better.

So, there it is. The willingness to reach out and engage with those we have disagreement
with, and doing so with the heart of wanting to serve. Pie in the sky? Head in the sand? Hopelessly naive? No. It is simply to suggest we try to bring a different dynamic or attitude to any disagreement.

The Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church was quoted in last week’s Gazette. At one stage, he had made the suggestion that if there are differences between two groups of Christian people, “it is all the more important that they continue to talk to one another rather than about each other.”

If we were to follow that advice, it would give practical expression to the words of Isaiah: “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” Or, as the Message version translates it: “They’ll turn their swords into shovels, their spears into hoes.” Instruments that could wound and kill would be transformed into something more constructive and hopeful.

The passage in Isaiah 2 begins with the words: “There is a day coming … ” In other words, the hope of turning “swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks” was something for the future, but not realised just now. The kingdom of God is now and not yet – but we can bring a manifestation of that future hope into times of contention, hurt, anger or disagreement.

Is that not part of what we ask for when we pray “Thy kingdom come”? Imagine being the answer to our own prayers!


Home News

  • Remembering the Battle of the Somme at Lisburn War Memorial
  • Former Dean of Belfast says honorary degree was not expected
  • Train the trainer days
  • Clogher institution
  • Church leaders meet with PSNI and An Garda Síochána to discuss crime prevention
  • Mission focus: Bible Society Northern Ireland
  • Academics to examine the history of Mother and Baby homes
  • From Sweden to Larne
  • Youth Update – Children and youth ministries in Armagh Diocese: alive and engaged
  • Christian Aid Ireland long-time supporter receives recognition award


In perspective – Moira Thom – School’s out!

Insight – Your church was planted once!

World news

  • El Al to end practice of moving women to accommodate ultra-Orthodox
  • Key vote on abortion and same-sex marriage quits US Supreme Court
  • Evangelism – what does it look like?
  • More Chilean bishops resign
  • Trump’s travel ban
  • Praying and serving those on the margins
  • Response to ‘zero-tolerance’ policy separating families along the US-Mexico border
  • Targeting mental health


Letters to the editor

Same-sex debate

WITH REFERENCE to a number of letters and articles in this publication, I would like to take two recent letters, from Leo Kilroy and Robert Irwin (Gazette, 22nd June 2018), as examples.

Unreasonable attitudes and inaccurate words are typified by “this institutional homophobia” (Leo Kilroy) and “out of step” (Robert Irwin).

Firstly, let me say I do not disagree in general with the premise of Leo Kilroy’s reaction to the decision of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI), but loose terminology and unreasonable use of the label “institutional homophobia” is an inaccurate and traditional trot-out phrase of those purporting to represent the LGBT community.

The position of opposing same-sex relations and a different perspective on abortion rights are legitimate ethical positions, and do not amount to “institutional homophobia” or an institutional response.

Secondly, this frequently ill-considered, throw-away line “out of step”, shows a misunderstanding of Christ and his Church. Christ and his Church were and are not about being ‘up-to-date’ with the world’s theological or ethical current trend. Surely the Church is about humbly trying to shape the ways of the world, not ‘keeping up’ with them just for the sake of being modern!

Lastly, not to invite a PCI representative to General Synod 2019 on the basis of a legitimate democratic vote within their goverance structure, would be to show disrespect for a legitimate stance, not to mention narrow-mindedness on our part, whether we like the decision or not.

Colin Hall-Thompson (Revd) Belfast



SINCE CHILDHOOD I have known the joy of the 1662 BCP Morning Prayer. Whenever possible I travel by train 170 miles to attend Choral Matins at the historic St John the Baptist’s, Canberra.

Recently, I published a 2nd, enlarged edition of a booklet, Morning Prayer Dayspring, commending the use of this service, with flexibility and imagination, alone or in place of the Ante Communion, especially today when here most Church of England people have not been confirmed and are unlikely ever to come to the central service of Holy Communion.

Unlike the Irish service, 1662 Matins does not include the canticle Urbs Fortitudinis, but I thought some might be interested to see my metrical version:

We have a strong city: its walls are salvation;

its bulwarks are healing and wholeness and truth:

it opens its gates for the truth- loving nation;

we find in its justice true wisdom and wealth.

Thou keepest in peace those whose minds remain steady,

because every day, LORD, in thee they put trust;

untroubled and peaceful, they always are ready
to build, dear LORD God,

upon rock and not dust.

All level thy paths – and thy law is related:

O God of the upright, assist us to see

the way of thy judgments; for that we have waited –

our hearts’ still desiring remembrance of thee. Tune: Laredo (gently), St Catherine’s Court.

John Bunyan (Revd Dr) Campbelltown

New South Wales

Bethany Home: open letter to the archbishops of the Church of Ireland

LAST WEEK, I flew from the UK with my family to attend the unveiling of the new Bethany Mother and Baby Home memorial in Dublin.

Over 71 names were added to the 222, already on the headstone, of those who died as infants, babies and children. It was a bittersweet event. We honoured our fallen brothers and sisters who died many years ago, but there were gaps in our numbers.

Living survivors who stood beside us only a few short years ago, have passed away. We few Protestant survivors are almost extinct; this is exactly what the State and Protestant Churches want.

Of course, the archbishops and hierarchy will claim otherwise, but actions speak louder than words. They have done little or nothing to help us. Every scrap from their table has been hard fought for by survivors. Their last letter, a full six years ago, was ignored and no amount of letters will help. Letters and forced half- hearted words are of no use to the last survivors.

What we need is to see the archbishops and the princes of the Protestant Churches truly fight for the last handful of survivors. Our Protestant leadership needs to collectively and publicly call on the government to stop treating Protestants as though they are not Irish: to stop denying us until we are dead.

They need to call for justice – from their pulpits and on the streets! From the highest spires in the land! And not just once, but daily! Hourly! They need to call press conferences and issue media statements clearly stating that the survivors of the notorious Bethany Home have been fighting for 20 years and denied justice every single day for over 7,300 days.

If the archbishops and hierarchy were to do this, it would all be over very soon, as they know all too well. We have had polite tea and biscuits a few times and very nice they were too. But now that we are passing away slowly, survivor by survivor, it would not matter if we had 1,000 people for tea: it would change nothing.

The archbishops and hierarchy must seek the Lord and look into their hearts. They must stand shoulder to shoulder with us. That way we will finally win our 20-year battle for justice.

Survivors are tired of having tea and biscuits with the archbishops at the last chance saloon. If they do not act now, it will soon be too late and the shame will stay on their souls and on their churches for evermore.

Archbishops, we need your help and we need it now, please. “I have a dream this will be no more, I have a dream.”

Derek Linster Rugby Warwickshire


Book Review

BRAVE: SHOWING COURAGE IN ALL SEASONS OF LIFE Author: Debbie Duncan Publisher: Monarch Books, Oxford


News Extra

  • Revd Martin Donnelly ordained first permanent deacon in Diocese of Clogher
  • Br John urges Christians to follow the examples of Jesus and St Francis
  • Group of parishioners complete safeTALK suicide alertness training