COI Gazette 17th August 2018

Errislannan church rededicated after vandalism

Provost Stan Evans and the Friends of St Flannan’s, founded in 1961 - when Holy Trinity, Errislannan was due to be demolished - to repair and maintain the church for future generations. (Photo: Alistair Grimason)

Provost Stan Evans and the Friends of St Flannan’s, founded in 1961 – when Holy Trinity, Errislannan was due to be demolished – to repair and maintain the church for future generations. (Photo: Alistair Grimason)

Many will recall the sense of outrage and deep hurt that descended upon the people of Errislannan Peninsula in October 2017, when they found Holy Trinity church dreadfully vandalised. Windows had been broken, furnishings destroyed and even the lectern Bible torn apart.

This wanton act touched the hearts of the local community, as well as people across the island and beyond. An appeal for help was launched and the response was overwhelming. Restorative work was undertaken and the fruit of this work was celebrated on 5th August.

The service of rededication saw the building full to capacity. It was led by priest-in- charge, Very Revd Stan Evans, together with the Bishop of Tuam, Killala and Achonry, Patrick Rooke, and Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam, Michael Neary. Both bishops spoke to the congregation.




Whither the message of Christ as the world changes rapidly? Is this the first time that the Christian faith has had to be lived and shared in uncertain times? The answer is surely not, if we take even the most rudimentary look at history.

Some thousands of years ago, a small group of people had just lived through traumatic circumstances that would have shaken their confidence to the core. Some of them were city dwellers but many of them were born and brought up in the country.

It was to such a collection of people that Christ spoke, a matter of weeks after his crucifixion and resurrection. The disciples did not always fully understand what he taught them. He also had a habit of presenting them with tasks beyond what they believed they were capable of.

Shortly before leaving his disciples and ascending into heaven, Christ gave them a promise and a commission: “… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

From this small ordinary group of people grew one of the most mission-oriented organisations the world has ever known. Somehow the message they were trusted with went from Jerusalem to every corner of the earth. Global mission – a commitment to take the message to every part of the globe – was born in that moment.

The fact that the Church exists in Ireland today shows that the commission given to those first middle eastern disciples was carried out. By its very existence, the Church of Ireland itself is part of the fruits of that global mission.

In a speech in Cape Town, Robert Kennedy said: “There is a Chinese curse that says, ‘May he live in interesting times.’ Like it or not we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history”.

Through significant moments of history, Christians have shown resilience and ability to adapt to new circumstances. Part of the story is that we also show ourselves to be deeply flawed at times. Christ’s followers have certainly lived in interesting times in history. We now share the challenge, in Western culture, of finding our place and demonstrating Christ’s message in a very different world.

Believers on this island owe our very existence to the DNA of global mission that grew from those first disciples that Christ commissioned. Disciples have famously reproduced that DNA throughout the centuries as Christians from these shores set out into the unknown with the same message.

Can we find a confidence, courage and integrity again?

Adapted from: ‘The Church of Ireland: Apologetic for Mission?’


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Letters to the editor

Bethany Home – An Open Letter to: the Irish Government, Ministers, TDs, Senators, the Church of Ireland, Archbishop and Bishops

THE BETHANY Home Group ’98 was the first, and for many years the only, Mother and Baby group, in Ireland, founded in 1998.

It was a very small group for the minority from a Protestant back ground, who had no one representing us or speaking out for us. The Catholic groups in Ireland had the IECHR and, in many cases, the Irish Courts Ombudsman. The 2002 Redress was for Catholics and the Bethany Home was excluded.

There have been many solicitors, barristers and human and civil rights organisations falling over themselves to represent the Catholic survivors but, it seems, no Protestants need apply. Meanwhile, the Protestant survivors had no organisation who cared about us, being forever excluded and refused truth, justice, redress or an inquiry, unlike our fellow Catholic survivors.

But, the big question after our 20-year campaign is, why have we never had an Irish government minister make the time or consider it important enough, to attend any of the Bethany Home Memorials and annual commemorations at Mount Jerome cemetery in Dublin, for the hundreds of innocent Protestant babies and children that both the State and Church left to rot and die in the notorious Bethany Home?

Another big question is, why our own Church of Ireland archbishops and bishops have not been able to face our precious Memorial, although they are given up to one year’s notice in advance? Are these Protestant children’s lives not every bit as important as any Irish Catholic babies and children?

It is beyond shameful that the various Ministers for Children, including Catherine Zappone, can never find the single hour needed to attend any of our annual commemorations or see the unveiling of our two memorials with the names of over 450 Protestant babies and children, who are buried in unmarked graves. Yet Minister Zappone can always find the time for her several highly publicised trips, hundreds of miles across the country, to Galway where she can meet the Catholic survivors of Tuam, as she should. But our commemoration, just down a few miles from her office, never seems within her reach.

The Bethany Home survivors are the only group that did our own research, without one penny of the State’s money, and now these Irish babies and children dumped in unmarked graves have regained their names and ages and the serial numbers of the grave plots where they were quickly buried without any ceremony. We have death certificates to confirm mass burials and that cannot be said of any other group in Ireland.

There are now three memorials in Mount Jerome and the Bethany survivors contributed all the research, names and ages. Nowhere else in Ireland, at any of the other eight Catholic Mother and Baby Homes, will you see three memorial stones. But, on 29th June in 2018, at 4.00pm, I unveiled the two new memorials. On these are inscribed the names of 169 innocent souls because the State would not pay for this, the first Protestant memorial to have been erected in Ireland. Many people who have taken the time to visit say there is no equal anywhere in the world, and there may never be.

Most of the Bethany survivors, my friends and crib mates, have now passed away and are gone. Yet the Irish State and the Church of Ireland continue to willfully ignore not just the survivors but also the entire people of Ireland, by their ignorance and cowardice. All our TDs and senators are equally guilty, with only a few exceptions.

Taoiseach, ministers, TDs, senators, archbishop and bishops: you must stop doing this. You are daily bringing shame on yourselves and all of Ireland. Shame on you all for letting that happen.

I have a dream this one day I will awake from this nightmare, and find justice in Ireland.

Derek Linster

Rugby Warwickshire

GAFCON Ireland

YOUR EDITORIAL of 6th July, in reference to GAFCON Ireland, ends with a laudable call to mutual love and reconciliation. The implication is that GAFCON represents merely another strand in our broad church, and that we simply have to live with each other.

Such normalising of GAFCON utterly fails to
recognise the toxic nature of this power-hungry sectarian movement, itself a capitulation to the zeitgeist of fundamentalism and exclusion.

Canon Ronnie Clarke’s recent letter expresses the true nature of GAFCON with trenchant clarity but without, I believe, caricature. Indeed it is quite horrible enough to
need no caricature.
I am disappointed to find

the Gazette attempting to normalise this threat to Irish Anglicanism; even more disappointed to find two of our bishops encouraging this schism. Shame on them. David Oxley (Revd)

Finglass Co. Dublin

Salome or Herodias?

THE PRESCRIBED Bible reading for church services on 15th July last was from Mark 6 and had to do with the beheading of John the Baptist by Herod.

Herodias was Herod’s wife and she had a daughter by a previous marriage. The daughter’s name was Salome, according to Josephus, and nearly all translations of the Bible (including the New International version and the King James version) tell us that it was this girl, the daughter of Herodias, who danced before Herod and so beguiled him
that he agreed to deliver up the head of John on a platter.

But in the reading on 15th July (from the New Revised Standard version) we learned differently, that the dancing girl was Herod’s daughter, and that her name was Herodias.

So, whose daughter did the dancing? And was her name Salome or Herodias? Which translation should we accept, and how can translations differ so much? We would be interested in finding out.

Peter and Thea Boyle Stillorgan


Christianity in the Republic of Ireland

FOR THE second time now, in as many months, I feel it necessary to write in protest at yet another example of a member of the Church of Ireland clergy serving in Northern Ireland writing, or having reported by mainstream media, offensive and ill- mannered remarks about the citizens of the Republic of Ireland (previous letter 8th June 2018).

In the Irish Times (17th July) there was a report of Revd Trevor Johnston’s remarks made on a visit to Australia, in which he comments on the state of Christianity in the Republic – “for the Southern Irish (sic) God is now seen as redundant and unnecessary.”

Of course, all of us in the Church of Ireland are perfectly entitled to engage in robust theological conversations, and this is healthy (except in the
case of GAFCON, where it is just plain tiresome).

However, in doing this, could we please keep our arguments focused and relevant, and preferably with some intelligent theological content as the main ingredient? Throwing out ill-considered comments about the state of Christianity in the Republic does nothing to help the strong ecumenical work being done between the main denominations, and puts the clergy of the Church of Ireland serving here in an embarrassing position.

Could I also make a plea for accuracy and courtesy, particularly when referring to the Republic – it is ‘the Republic of Ireland’, not ‘the South’ or ‘Southern Ireland’.
Marie Rowley-Brooke

Nenagh Co. Tipperary

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