COI Gazette – 13th October 2017

Las Vegas mass shooting – faith leaders call for prayer and action

A woman sits on a curb at the scene of the mass shooting in Las Vegas Strip. (Photo: AP Photo/John Locher)

A woman sits on a curb at the scene of the mass shooting in Las Vegas Strip. (Photo: AP Photo/John Locher)

As the United States reels from the latest mass shooting, in Las Vegas, religious and secular leaders have been offering prayers, with some calling for stronger action on gun control. The following is a sample of their reaction.

The Very Revd Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral said: “It goes without saying that our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. But that is not enough, and it has not been enough for a long time.

“Prayer is powerful and it can be a healing force in a divided nation. However, ‘thoughts and prayers’ on their own will not solve the epidemic of gun violence.”

He continued: “The nation is looking for real answers and substantive policy recommendations that will end this epidemic. How can we be a catalyst for cultural change aimed at reducing gun violence? We need to engage in a real national conversation and ask ourselves how we can properly balance the right to bear arms with the need to keep weapons – whose only purpose is to kill other humans on a mass scale – out of circulation.”




“One of the key roles of leadership is to tell your own people the way things really are on the ground.” Jerry Greenfield’s (co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s) comment is interesting if you read the report of the diocesan synod of Tuam, Killala and Achonry (Gazette, 6th October, page 3).

Bishop Rooke was talking about what the future shape of the Church of Ireland might be in that diocese. He said: “My prediction, for what it’s worth, is that within 10 years there may well be as few as three groups in our diocese – perhaps based in Galway, Westport and Ballina, with one stipendiary cleric in each, but working alongside a team of Ordained Local Ministers.”

As with any prediction of the future all any of us can do is make our best guess. Whether or not his prediction comes to pass, it must nevertheless have been sobering to listen to. Whilst none of us can predict the future it does seem prudent to try and plan for it. In imaging the future Bishop Rooke was taking Jerry Greenfield’s advice seriously – to tell his own people “the way things really are on the ground”.

Bishop Rooke followed up his prediction with an interesting comment. He said: “One of the most encouraging 24 hours I spent in the last year was with six others from the Diocese at an inter-diocesan learning experience (with Dublin and Connor) … to look at what we are doing, what we might do and could do in terms of Fresh Expressions of ministry in our respective dioceses.”

Fresh Expressions of Church is one of those phrases we are beginning to hear more and more. But what does it mean? Visit and you will find out that “Fresh Expressions are new forms of church that emerge within contemporary culture and engage primarily with those who don’t ‘go to church’. Believing that God is already at work in the world, Fresh Expressions re-imagine how the Body of Christ can live and work in diverse and changing contexts.”

Apparently, over 3,000 Fresh Expressions are now active around the world. From the initial vision of Archbishop Rowan Williams and the Mission- Shaped Church report (2004), a growing movement of practitioners and pioneers has formed Fresh Expressions of Church in the UK, across Europe and in North America.

Church Army Researcher George Lings calculated that in 2016, a survey of 20 dioceses showed 1,109 Fresh Expressions of Church with approximately 50,000 people attending. They can take a number of different forms, such as Messy Church, New Monastic Communities, Café Church or Alternative Worship to name but a few.

Whether we like Fresh Expressions or not isn’t the important point. Surely the crucial point was carried in Bishop Rooke’s words: “… to look at what we are doing, what we might do and could do …”. In other words, it was recognising the way things are, but crucially thinking of what could be done to change the future.

Fatalism is defined as “an attitude of resignation in the face of some future event or events which are thought to be inevitable. Philosophers usually use the word to refer to the view that we are powerless to do anything other than what we actually do.” Acknowledging the way things are but looking at what might be done suggests faith rather than fatalism. It is an example worth following.


Home News

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  • New staff to attract more visitors to Belfast Cathedral
  • Public Records Office of Northern Ireland launch digitised church records
  • Inaugural meeting of diocesan History Circle announced
  • Members of IRAD group meet in South Africa
  • Training and praise at Connor Big Sing
  • Diocese of Armagh ordination
  • Parish choir sing in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin



In Perspective – Milestones and bucket lists

Insight – The Irish Guild of the Church – By Caroline Nolan


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Letter to the Editor

Same-sex marriage debate

SO LONG as (presumably) sincere people like the Revd Colin Hall- Thompson send letters, through the Gazette, to the Church of Ireland community referring to some of my friends, colleagues, family and neighbours as “indulging in sin” only by virtue of same-sex love, I must stand up and speak out against what I perceive as fundamentally unchristian.

I rejoice that, as a society, we now understand so much more about the depth and breadth of human sexuality than we did many years ago when Paul wrote
to the Corinthians.

We now understand that we do not live in a binary world and we have medical, psychological and legal knowledge that has opened our eyes to recognise the reality that we share the world with a range of quite normal people (whatever that means!) who have different sexual orientations, or who favour a variety of gender expressions, or whose gender identity is sometimes not clear at birth, or who are transvestite, or who are intersex and some who are heterosexual.

The Christ whom I follow has given me a brain to read this evidence and to believe the evidence of my own eyes and ears.

My Christ does not expect me to use as my sole source of knowledge the views expressed hundreds of years ago in applying his teaching to the world I inhabit and share with my fellows.

I stand full square behind people who have been liberated to enjoy, inter alia, the full expression of the love they feel for their partners.
Letter to the Editor

Same-sex marriage debate
Patricia Barker (Prof.)

Sutton, Co. Dublin


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