COI Gazette – 15th November 2013

Belfast Cathedral launches innovative cross-community Choir School project

One of St Anne’s Cathedral’s professional singing tutors, Catherine Harper, conducts a selection of pupils from the three North Belfast schools taking part in the Choir School initiative at the launch of the scheme. (Photo: Karen Bushby)

As part of a restructuring of its music department, St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, established a girls’ choir last autumn and hopes to have a new boys’ choir in place for Christmas, both under the direction of the cathedral’s Master of the Choristers, David Stevens.

To this end, the cathedral recently launched a groundbreaking, ecumenical ‘Choir School’ initiative, reaching out into the community to form a musical relationship with three schools in neighbouring North Belfast: Edenbrooke Primary, Sacred Heart Boys’ Primary and Cliftonville Integrated School.




The themes of unity and mission have always been closely associated, deriving their interrelationship from St John 17: 21 and Christ’s prayer for unity so that the world might believe.

The 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Busan, Republic of Korea, last week honoured that fundamental link and devoted two plenary sessions to the twin themes (report, page 6). Dame Mary Tanner, well known around the world for her ecumenical commitment and drive, introduced the representatives of the Churches to the theme in a prayerful way.

Prayer is essential in the ecumenical movement and itself unites Christians of different traditions in a very deep manner.

While perhaps somewhat ‘out of season’ in this connection, it is appropriate to emphasise the importance of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in January. Some people feel that the Week has lost some of its momentum, but, if so, that surely only serves to underscore the responsibility of the Churches to rekindle what is a very special spiritual flame. With so much of the rest of the year packed with special times and themes, January provides some space and, indeed, praying for unity is a good way to start any new year.

The WCC Assembly’s plenary on mission saw a reflection on the new WCC mission statement, Together Towards Life: Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes. That document, which had been unanimously approved as an official statement of the WCC at the 2012 meeting of the Central Committee in Greece, sets out a series of affirmations.

They include that the purpose of God’s mission is fullness of life (John 10: 10); that spirituality is the source of energy for mission and that mission in the Spirit is transformative; that G od’s mission is to renew the whole creation; that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news in all ages and places and should be proclaimed in the Spirit of love and humility; and that dialogue and cooperation for life are integral to mission and evangelism. Even in this selection of the document’s affirmations there is plenty for reflection and action. Indeed, judging by the news that has come from the 10th Assembly in Busan, a considerable agenda for the Churches has emerged. The Assembly Message is, importantly, a call to the Churches to move forward together in their common mission and in the ‘Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace’. (World News Feature, page 6)


Home News


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Features and Columns


  • Focus on Northern Ireland Healthcare Chaplains’ Association
  • Soap – Down At St. David’s
  • Insights 1 – New hospital chaplaincy model By The Revd Derek Johnston
  • Insights 2 – The IF campaign concludes, but the work goes on, writes Rosamond Bennett
  • Rethinking Church – Stephen Neil – Say it with flowers
  • Life Lines – Ron Elsdon – God’s wonderful railways

News Extra

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  • St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh’s monuments and memorials featured in new publication
  • Appointment
  • Death