COI Gazette – 16th March 2018

Reaching young people – Continuing our series on Fresh Expressions of Church

One of the churches featured in the case studies (Unlimited Church in Exeter)

One of the churches featured in the case studies (Unlimited Church in Exeter)

Last year, Church Army’s Research Unit was tasked by the Church of England nationally to investigate effective mission with non- churched (people who have never attended church before) young adults aged 18 to 30.

Young people in the 18 to 30 age bracket are often described as the ‘missing generation’ and very few attend church regularly, as highlighted in last year’s report, Finding Faith in Ireland.

The Research Unit was asked to find out more about how the Church can be effective in reaching young adults. This included looking for examples of churches that are doing this well and trying to understand what can be learned from them.

The Unit deliberately tried to find a cross-section of different types of projects and initiatives. It visited 11 churches in total, aiming to capture a wide range of social and geographical contexts.




The Library and Archives Committee of The Representative Church Body has issued a new set of Guidelines for the Safe Custody and Copyright of Parish Records and Memorials in Burial Grounds. Recent situations involving copying and/or publication of parish registers and other records held locally, as well as memorials in burial grounds, have prompted this action.

The Guidelines will be issued to every member of the clergy, parish secretary and diocesan secretary in the coming days, aiming to: assist members of the clergy and select vestries with the care and custody of records held in parishes; and raise awareness about the legal restrictions in place concerning copyright in the text of parish records and in inscriptions on memorials, with particular reference to publishing such data on the internet or in printed formats.

The Guidelines are also available through the Parish Resources section of the Church of Ireland website:

The Guidelines provide succinct practical information about the care of and copyright governing three key sources of data created in parishes: the registers (of baptism, marriage and burial); the vestry minutes and related parish records; and inscriptions on memorials in burial grounds. Acknowledging previous generations who have created and kept records safe, the document urges parishes to be aware that both the written records and the data inscribed on memorial stones in burial grounds are subject to copyright.

No matter how well intended local initiatives might be, publication of data, or photographs of same, are restricted.

Taking the parish registers, for example, copyright in all registers of baptism, marriage and burial, up to and including 1871, resides with the relevant state. In Northern Ireland, copyright in registers of baptisms and burials up to 1871 and marriages before 1845 is subject to the Public Records Act (Northern Ireland), 1923.

In the Republic of Ireland, copyright in registers of baptisms and burials up to 1871, and marriages before 1845 is subject to the National Archives (Ireland) Act, 1986.

All post-1845 registers of Church of Ireland marriages are subject to the Civil Registration Act, 2004 in the Republic of Ireland and the Marriage (Northern Ireland) Order, 2003 in Northern Ireland. Copyright of data in all registers of baptisms and burials from 1871 onwards is held by The Representative Church Body, subject to the regulations in The Constitution of the Church of Ireland.

Thus carte blanche photography of registers is prohibited; any electronic recording of images requires the appropriate permission from the relevant copyright holder and any breach is subject to prosecution.

The Guidelines also provide practical advice on the keeping of vestry records and related parish records; and finally memorials in burial grounds – strongly recommending that neither images nor details of inscriptions on memorials erected within the past 40 years ever be uploaded to the internet or published in any other formats.

It concludes on a positive note encouraging parishes to transfer all non-current materials to the Church’s safe, secure, and permanent repository which is the Representative Church Body Library.


Home News

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  • Clogher Diocese says farewell to Archdeacon Cecil Pringle
  • Comedian Tim helps distribute £126,000 to ‘Good Samaritans’
  • ‘A marvellous experience’ – Canon Raj recalls Buckingham Palace reception
  • St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Down Cathedral



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Life Lines – Prophets and politicians


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Letters to the Editor

Abortion debate – Eighth Amendment

THE GENERAL approach across the Anglican communion on the question of abortion is well known and long established. It combines a general opposition to abortion with a sincere intention of compassion.

There is, typically, a qualified opposition to abortion that admits of cases where it is viewed as permissible under conditions of “strict and undeniable medical necessity”. The latter is the subject of varying interpretations.

Clearly, there will be differences in emphases among Anglicans, Christians and others who share a broadly ‘pro-life’ outlook. At the same time, it would be very wrong to stereotype views on this question according to age, sex or religion.

Recently, the two Archbishops of the Church of Ireland issued a statement in relation to the forthcoming referendum on the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

Significantly, their statement of 5th February advocated not a complete repeal of the Eighth Amendment; rather, it contained the following: “We favour a modification of the Article 40.3.3 in such a way that allows for the Oireachtas to have legislative responsibility to address termination of pregnancy, any rights of the unborn and the rights of the pregnant woman within clearly defined boundaries and parameters.”

In other words, the Archbishops would appear to favour the inclusion of some provision in the constitution which protects, among other things, “any rights of the unborn”.

In my view this is a welcome development in so far as it establishes that the unborn have rights and these ought to be reflected in the constitution along with the rights of pregnant women.

Running through this debate is the very real and sometimes harrowing experience of women in situations of crisis pregnancies. As the recent statement pointed out very aptly: “we acknowledge that too often in this debate the voice of women has not been heard.”

To this, I suggest, must also be added the ‘voices’ of those not yet born but with a unique God- given, individual finger-print, beating hearts, moving hands and legs as well as functioning brains and a capacity to feel pain at an undefined stage of development. We were, each of us, once in such a situation of development.

It is beyond doubt, however, that the choice on offer to voters will not involve some
modification of the relevant Article but, simply, its repeal or retention. Moreover, it is surely the case that the Government will propose the introduction of legislation to provide for abortion (subject to approval of the Oireachtas) “on request” up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Whether we like it or not, the choice on referendum day will be between the status quo, on the one hand, and what is proposed as a very liberal abortion regime, on the other. The choice is between retain or repeal and those of us able to vote will mark Yes or No on the ballot paper. And that’s it.

While many will not agree with me and while I respect the sincere and compassionate views of fellow Christians and others who differ from me on this matter, I am among those who cannot in conscience vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment knowing what the inevitable consequences will be.

There has to be a better way for all concerned. I pray for a respectful, compassionate, inclusive and evidence-based discussion in the coming weeks.

(And yes, I am a man but I was once an unborn baby!) Tom Healy

Skerries Co. Dublin


Interfaith understanding

THE LETTER on interfaith understanding from Katherine Dowds (2nd March) was very helpful. I hope it will encourage Christians, certainly from the Church of Ireland, to reach out to visitors, migrants and refugees.

We are used to doing that daily in The Mission to Seafarers, mainly of course to seafarers who come from many and diverse backgrounds, particularly Asians and East Europeans.

Seafarers tend to be men and women ‘of the world’ and do not, as a rule, concern themselves too much with the niceties of their ethnic or religious traditions. This makes life easier for us!

On the other hand, I am involved with ‘All Nations’, a non-denominational Christian group whose members, as the name indicates, welcome people from all nations, and meet in our Belfast premises on Friday nights and on other occasions.

They run a Drop-in centre nearby for visitors from all backgrounds, especially migrants and refugees. They also organise special social and outreach events, when it is important that we are cognisant of the cultural and religious traditions of the diverse ethnic and religious
groups we meet with.

We have found these occasions to be very much appreciated, great fun and occasions when we can learn from each other and share our stories.

Also, through Remembering Srebrenica, I work closely with Muslims in peacemaking and community development. Remembering Srebrenica grew out of a reaction to the terrible genocide at Srebrenica in Bosnia.

I travelled there last summer with a group to see – to a limited extent – and hear of the ghastly slaughter of mainly Bosnian Muslims by Serbian ‘Christians’.

As Christians and Westerners in this group we are not expected to ‘eat humble pie’, but simply work through dialogue and community action to improve Christian/ Muslim relations and engage in peacemaking developments together. It is an honour.

Of course, there are sensitivities to be observed by both parties. Nevertheless, all these situations are a great privilege, and a gentle way to share our Christian hospitality, story and joy.

Colin Hall-Thompson (The Revd)

Mission to Seafarers Belfast


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