COI Gazette – 14th August 2015

Special service marks restoration of family grave of penalty kick inventor

The Very Revd Gregory Dunstan (left), the Revd Malcolm Kingston (centre) and the Very Revd Robert Townley are pictured at the restored McCrum family grave in St Mark’s, Armagh, with some of the guests who attended the special service of celebration and thanksgiving. (Photo: Ian Maginess)

The Very Revd Gregory Dunstan (left), the Revd Malcolm Kingston (centre) and the Very Revd Robert Townley are pictured at the restored McCrum family grave in St Mark’s, Armagh, with some of the guests who attended the special service of celebration and thanksgiving. (Photo: Ian Maginess)

A special service of celebration and thanksgiving was held recently in St Mark’s parish church, Armagh, to commemorate William McCrum, from the nearby village of Milford, who invented football’s penalty kick, and to mark the completion of the restoration of the McCrum family grave in the church’s graveyard.

The service was led by the rector of St Mark’s, the Revd Malcolm Kingston, assisted by the Very Revd Robert Townley and the Very Revd Gregory Dunstan.

Many members of Northern Ireland’s football fraternity were present and a representative of the Irish Football Association (IFA), along with members of the Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters’ Clubs (AONISC), read the lessons and led the intercessions.





On the north side of the Holy Table in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, there is an old chair bearing the insignia of mitre and crown and the year (1661) of John Bramhall’s appointment as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. It is still used at confirmations, at the ordinations of deacons and priests and the consecrations of bishops. The Bramhall chair is a reminder of this passionate defender of the faith and order of the Church of Ireland and of worship according to The Book of Common Prayer.

A Yorkshireman, Bramhall came to Ireland in 1633 with Thomas Wentworth (later Earl of Strafford) and was consecrated Bishop of Derry in 1634. He was largely instrumental in getting the Irish Convocations to accept the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, initially alongside the Irish Articles of 1615 (which, with their strong Calvinistic emphasis, eventually disappeared from view) and also strove to recover to the Church some of its lost property.

He contended against the Puritanism of many of the settler clergy and, in 1641, with impeachment and imprisonment. A strong supporter of King Charles I and the royalist cause, he went into exile during Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth and lived in considerable poverty.

Bramhall’s body of writings includes defences of Anglicanism against the attacks of both Puritan
and Roman Catholic critics. He also argued strongly against the materialism of Thomas Hobbes, a contemporary. As a leading Caroline Divine, he is a significant witness to a theology of the Eucharist which, while very critical of Roman Catholic teaching, nonetheless upholds a biblical understanding of the doctrines of the Real Presence and the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

Following the collapse of Cromwell’s regime after his death and the Restoration of the monarchy under King Charles II and the Anglican Church in 1660, Bramhall was appointed Archbishop of Armagh. Whilst a strong upholder of episcopacy, he did his best to reconcile Presbyterian clergy to the Church of Ireland, insisting that the necessity of episcopal ordination if they were to retain their livings was not to be understood as a repudiation of their former ministries.

Bramhall presided as Primate over one of the greatest services in the history of the Church of Ireland, when 12 new bishops were consecrated in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, among them Jeremy Taylor who was also the preacher. Bramhall died in 1663, two years after his appointment to the highest office in the Church of Ireland.

This editorial is one in a series of occasional reflections on figures in Church history, following a chronological sequence as they appear.


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Letters to the Editor

The Church and Human Sexuality

IN THEIR respective letters (Gazette, 26th June) under the heading, ‘The Church and Human Sexuality’, the authors, Dr John Wilson and Dr David Capper, discomfit more tentative Christians like me with their confident assertions about what our Lord thought about same-sex relationships.

“There are no statements in Jesus’ teachings that validate, condone or promote … same- sex sexual activity …”, Dr Wilson confidently tells us.

Any other understanding, he implies, is a rejection of “… the Lord’s word, which was pronounced during the Iron Age … for all ages”.

Dr Capper, in even more assured mode, declares: “ … Almighty God and Jesus Christ our Saviour made it perfectly clear that homosexual acts are sinful.” Contrary views he dismisses as “ … ‘Alice in Wonderland’ reading of Scripture … ”

The content of their letters suggests the correspondents believe that Scripture gives a direct conduit to the mind of God.

No doubt their convictions are widely held within the Church of Ireland, but not universally so. Some of us are quite comfortable thinking, “I’m not sure that I agree with this or that”, and we’re relaxed about speculating on what might be beyond the surface meaning of a particular text.

When Dr Wilson, in his letter, tells us that Jesus affirmed the teaching in Genesis 2: 24, we note that in the same chapter God created a woman from the rib of a man. The scribe may have meant this as metaphor or it may be crude anthropomorphism but, whichever, surely one needs to be cautious about suggesting that the same chapter contains eternal and universal truths.

Dr Capper says that “the Church cannot be made ‘relevant’ by altering God’s word” and he is especially critical of the Church in “the Republic of Ireland”, where, he says, new members are being recruited by being offered “something that is liberal, tolerant, inclusive …” and “without a great deal of substance”.

One might think that it’s a tad arrogant to dismiss another’s understanding of Scripture as “altering God’s word” because it does not coincide with one’s own, but I’m enthusiastic about being “liberal, tolerant [and] inclusive”. They’re good Christian virtues and full of substance. We need them in this riven world.

We need less of the ‘thou shalt not’ mentality in the Church and more of the compassion of Christ.

Wes Holmes
Belfast BT14

IN REPLY to Canon Kenny’s remarks (Letter, 10th July), I find his opening five paragraphs, which insinuate a link between myself and Dr Capper, with the “learned doctors within the Church” (who opposed scientific advances, the anti- slavery movement and civil rights) unfathomable.

Perhaps this is typical of his approach to those who disagree with him “fundamentally”, but surely, casting aspersions by unsubstantiated innuendo is quite unacceptable.

Therefore, I would like to assure readers that I am not a slaver, a racist, a white supremacist, a flat-earther, a literalist, a creationist or an evolutionist, and certainly not a homophobe.

I am, however, happy to be called a foundationalist or fundamentalist because, in the words of E. Mote:

My hope is built on nothing less

than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

no merit of my own I claim

but wholly trust in Jesus’ name.

Finally, it is my contention that it is possible to hold fundamentalist views without “making the mistakes of the Scribes and Pharisees of our Lord’s day” – provided one does not (i) make up one’s own rules, (ii) point the finger of judgement at anyone, or (iii) belittle or ostracise those with whom one disagrees.

John Wilson (Dr) Kells Co. Antrim BT42

The Church of Ireland, North and South

THE CANARD that the Church of Ireland is fundamentally separated on North/South lines is nothing less than an attempt to divide our Church and needs to be rejected.

My experience following the same-sex ‘marriage’ referendum is exactly the same as the Revd Alastair Graham’s (Letters, Gazette, 31st July), in that of those who told me how they had voted, all said that they had voted ‘No’.

Again, like Mr Graham, people told me quietly for fear of being wrongfully labelled.

I am not surprised at this voting pattern and would surmise that a majority of Church of Ireland people in the Republic likewise voted ‘No’. I do so on the basis of the vote in General Synod in May 2012, when a clear majority voted in favour of maintaining accepted Church teaching on the nature of marriage.

There was an attempt by a member of the same-sex pressure group, Changing Attitude Ireland, to claim on BBC Radio Ulster in its Sunday Sequence programme on 13th May 2012 that this was due to a northern majority vote and I quote: “It is unfortunate that such a large number of northern voters appeared … when the southern, more liberal people had gone home.”

As I proved from the General Synod attendance figures (Gazette, 20th July 2012), the opposite was the case, in that, on the day of the vote, the number of northern voters had dwindled to some 23% less than that of their southern counterparts.

So, to Dean Tom Gordon et al., please turn your efforts on uniting, not dividing, our Church.

Peter T. Hanna (The Revd),  Innishannon Co. Cork

Bible, Prayer Book and visiting book

THE BRITISH GENERAL ELECTION last May should have brought home to the Church of Ireland the necessity of door-to-door pastoral visits. If the political parties had relied solely on modern technology to secure votes, they would never have spent time and energy canvassing from door to door.

The sects and others have also learned this lesson and are picking up lapsed or nominal members of our Church, especially the children on new housing estates.

I still remember the sound advice given at my ordination: study your Bible, say your prayers, according to the BCP, and visit your people. Three books are essential: the Bible, Prayer Book and visiting book. This is the threefold cord, the
priority, never to be broken. All else – committees, seminars, conferences to develop skills in modern communications – come a poor second.

The present Book of Common Prayer is a recipe for liturgical anarchy. There are too many options for “other suitable prayers”, etc. Indeed, some priests change the words of the Absolution into yet another Confession, refusing to say the solemn declaration and assurance of God’s forgiveness to the penitent. So, no Absolution, a flagrant disregard of the doctrine of our Church.

Victor G. Griffin (The Very Revd) –  Limavady BT49 ODW

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