Revision of clerical succession lists for the Church of Ireland
Canon James Blennerhassett Leslie (1865-1952), rector of Kilsaran in Armagh Diocese, produced Armagh Clergy and Parishes in 1911. This was the rst of his published volumes of succession lists for most of the dioceses of the Church of Ireland.
Succession lists are volumes containing the succession of bishops, dignitaries and clergy of the various dioceses, along with biographical information, lists of parishes and their clergy, maps and photographs with historical notes on the dioceses and parishes.
Leslie subsequently produced volumes for Clogher, Down, Ferns, Ossory, Derry, Raphoe and Ardfert and Aghadoe.
He also compiled lists for most of the other dioceses, including Tuam, Kilmore, Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Limerick, but these were not published at the time and remain in manuscript form at the Representative Church Body Library in Dublin.
As we go to press, the Anglican Consultative Council is in session in Lusaka. The outcome of the meeting will become clear in due course but in the meantime what we do know is that those attending are being asked to reflect deeply on the theme of ‘intentional discipleship’.
Even before any representatives actually arrived in Lusaka, this meeting of the ACC faced undoubted challenges. Last January, the Primates attempted to rule that, because of the liberal stance of the US Episcopal Church – in particular in approving the marriage of people of the same sex – and because of the “seriousness” of the inter-Anglican fall-out over the matter, “for a period of three years TEC [The Episcopal Church] no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision-making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity”. Nonetheless, TEC representatives travelled to Lusaka with the intention of voting, while several other Provinces indicated that they would stay away. Quite how this situation will be handled is yet to be seen.
However, despite the undeniable tensions in global Anglicanism at this time, the document – edited by Canon John Kafwanka, Director for Mission at the Anglican Communion Office, and Canon Mark Oxbrow, International Director of the Oxford-based organisation, Faith2Share – which was published by the ACC in time for the Lusaka meeting, Intentional Discipleship and Disciple-Making: An Anglican Guide for Christian Life and Formation, will focus the ACC representatives’ sights on a theme of importance in all quarters of Anglicanism. In some ways, it brings us back to elements of the Decade of Evangelism in the 1990s, flagging up the importance of
bringing new members into the fellowship of the Church but also focusing on deepening the spiritual life of those who are already churchgoers.
Intentional Discipleship and Disciple-Making states: “While evangelism was always present among Anglicans, there is some validity in stating that the period of emphasis on evangelism, famously known as the Decade of Evangelism, was instrumental in creating or awakening the consciousness of many Anglicans to make evangelism an intentional business. Although the Decade of Evangelism was not the only factor in promoting evangelism, and certainly not every Anglican diocese or province embraced the imagination of the Communion-wide call for emphasis on evangelism, many Anglicans, however, look back to that period as the catalyst for growth in church attendance and church planting.”
The Church is strengthened not only by greater attendances at public worship but also by the nurturing of believers to yet deeper faith and commitment. However, the inter-Anglican problems over sexuality and, ultimately, the understanding and authority of Scripture, will not be resolved by this document. Intentional Discipleship and Disciple-Making is a first-rate survey of its subject but theologian Martin Davie has aptly queried the viability of hoping to “to agree to disagree about sexuality and focus on discipleship instead”.
Nonetheless, the benefit of this document which will be a major backdrop to the ACC Lusaka meeting, raising the discipling theme, is that it will come as a reminder that what is at stake is fidelity to Christ’s commission to make disciples and will bring the focus back to the call to discipleship. Endeavouring to follow the example of Christ himself, as ever-more-faithful disciples, is indeed the way forward for every believer.
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Letters to the Editor
UK referendum on EU membership
IT IS with real sorrow that I write that I cannot remember ever having read a more inaccurate or ill-informed letter in the Church of Ireland Gazette than that written by the Revd Sid Mourant on the UK Referendum on European Union membership, printed in your issue of 25th March.
According to Mr Mourant “the European Commission … without God claims a divine right to decide what shall be the laws and freedoms of the UK without any mandate from the people”.
He then describes the European Commissioners as “unaccountable, non- elected and who govern on the principle of the ‘Divine Right of the Commission’”.
It is patently obvious that the author has no idea of how the EU works and that he is totally ignorant of the role of the European Commission.
Does he know that the Commission is simply the civil service of the EU? It executes decisions taken by other institutions, namely the Council and the European Parliament.
The European Commission has absolutely no legislative power. It may propose legislation but all legislative acts are adopted conjointly
by the democratically elected European Parliament (does Mr Mourant vote in EP elections?) and by the Council which is composed of the members of the democratically elected governments of all the EU Member States, including the UK and Irish governments.
Does Mr Mourant really expect the European Commission to be elected? Is the British civil service elected? Is the Northern Irish civil service elected? Is the Irish civil service elected?
Of course not. Such a procedure would not be compatible with the function of a civil service.
Mr Mourant then expounds on the European Court of Justice. He seems to deplore the fact that the judges are unknown by name or sight to the people of the UK.
That may be the case, but why should European Court judges, who take decisions collegially rather than individually, become notorious?
They work more effectively when not subject to the pressures that fame would incur.
One wonders if Mr Mourant even realises that two of the judges are appointed by the British Government.
Has he ever observed the European Court of Justice in operation? He could do so. The Court is perfectly open and transparent in its functioning.
An even more ridiculous assertion is that “European parliamentarians act like courtiers in the presence of the monarch”. Who is this monarch? It is certainly not the President of the Commission.
The European Parliament is often a thorn in the Commission’s flesh. As the democratic voice of the people of Europe, the Parliament has frequently been accused of being excessively independent- minded by the other institutions and by the Member States.
It would appear that Mr Mourant derives his entire knowledge of the European Union from the mendacious diatribes of the anti-EU British newspapers rather than from any serious study of the Union’s decision-making procedures.
Before producing any further ill-founded affirmations on this subject, he would be well advised to investigate the real powers of the EU and examine how the EU institutions work. J.B.L.Rose
1 rue de Roodt.Syre L-6933 Mensdorf Luxembourg
- Commission on Episcopal Ministry and Structures
- AS SOMEONE ministering deep within rural Ireland, it was disappointing to read the update issued by the Press Office on the activities of the Commission on Episcopal Ministry and Structures (CEMS) (Gazette, 8th April).
- The article says: “However, it is fair to say that CEMS explored the issue of diocesan boundaries at great length. The Commission feels it is important for dioceses not to be too small numerically otherwise people are left struggling and inhibited from development.”
- There is no explanation as to what is meant by people being “left struggling and inhibited from development”.
- If “struggling and inhibited” is a reference to a lack of financial resources, then this is probably the case in many areas, but making the bishop more remote is not going to answer that problem; if anything, the lack of local episcopal presence is more likely to exacerbate the situation. The bishop is still seen as a significant leader by rural church communities.
- Why not look at the Church from a New Testament perspective, instead of a 19th-century clerical perspective, and see the scattered rural dioceses as an opportunity of exercising ministry in a different way?
- Why not see churches in terms of local Christian communities, instead of being elements of a ‘parish’ that has been cobbled together not on the basis of any examination of community ties or mission opportunities, but on the basis of how many people are needed to pay a stipend?
- Why continue to organise the Church on the basis of stipends when that path has only been one that has led us steadily downwards?
- The Commission could have taken a bishop and people approach, advocating dioceses where the bishop is leader of a number of Christian communities that have a sense of community identity among themselves; it could have suggested that the word ‘parish’ should refer to historic communities and not to the current amalgams; it could have said that the local Christian community should be the basic cell of our Church; and it could have said that these things would be possible if we shifted towards lay and local ordained ministry and away from maintaining the increasingly unsustainable stipendiary structure.
- With fewer stipendiary clergy and a greatly enhanced local ministry, people would not be left struggling and inhibited from development; there would be resources to keep buildings in good order as a seven-days-a-week witness to the presence of the Church of Ireland in the community; there would be more resources for more dynamic forms of mission; and there would be a refocusing of church life away from fundraising and towards ministry.
- On the other hand, we can continue as we are, probably receiving another report in a decade on how the new structures have themselves become unsustainable.
- Ian Poulton (Canon)
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