COI Gazette – 17th November 2017

Celebrating Good for the Sole

Concluding Good for the Sole - two years on: (from left) Ken Gibson (CEO The Mission to End Leprosy), the Revd William Steacy (Bishops’ Appeal Representative for Meath and Kildare) and Bishop Pat Storey

Concluding Good for the Sole – two years on: (from left) Ken Gibson (CEO The Mission to End Leprosy), the Revd William Steacy (Bishops’ Appeal Representative for Meath and Kildare) and Bishop Pat Storey

People from across the dioceses of Meath and Kildare gathered for a very special celebration on the evening of Sunday 5th November. The occasion was to mark the completion of a diocesan project to raise funds for people whose feet have been damaged by leprosy. A celebration service took place in All Saints’ Church in Mullingar.

Good for the Sole has been run in partnership with the Church of Ireland Bishops’ Appeal and the Mission to End Leprosy. The special service included video, interviews and singing, as well as a presentation by Ken Gibson, the CEO of the Mission to End Leprosy. The evening ended with coffee and cake for everyone.

It is commonly thought that leprosy no longer exists, but this unfortunately is not the case.




The reaction to the attack on a small Baptist church outside San Antonio in Texas, at the beginning of this month, can only be one of horror. One month ago, we were similarly shocked to hear of the mass shooting in Las Vegas that left 59 people dead and hundreds injured. In the month of October, 86 people were killed in mass shootings in the USA. In the years 2001 to 2013, 406,496 people died as a result of gun violence in America, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

To help us think through this appalling vista we are using the words of Richard Mouw, as follows, in this Editorial.

Back in the South African apartheid era, I helped organise anti-apartheid efforts in our local community in Michigan. At one of those gatherings we heard a stirring address by a visiting black Christian leader from South Africa. She helpfully proposed some specific actions that we could take to promote the cause of justice in her country.

At the conclusion of her talk she also urged us to keep praying for an end to the apartheid policies. In the discussion period following her talk a young man stood to register his irritation about the call to prayer. “I’m sick of just praying about this. I want us to do something!”

Her response was for me memorable. “I’m not recommending ‘just praying’. I gave you a number of things that you should also be doing.” But then she added: “Don’t knock praying, though. Prayer is doing something. It is petitioning the highest authority in universe. That is an important kind of action!”

I have been thinking about her comment as I have seen many online comments responding to the call for prayer on behalf of the victims of the latest church shooting in Texas. I personally was pleased that President Trump called for prayers on this occasion – as I was
when previous presidents made similar pleas in times of national crisis.

Prayer is indeed an act of petitioning. And it is more. The Hebrew psalms also include many prayers of lament – which is also “doing something”. The Bible gives us permission to lodge our complaints with God. “Where are you, Lord? Were you asleep when all of this was happening? Why are you silent when these horrible things are happening?”

It is good to pray in these ways. And I have no objections to a president urging us to pray. There is a “pastoral” aspect to presidential leadership. Abraham Lincoln performed that role well, as did more recent presidents: for me some prominent examples are President Clinton’s words after the Oklahoma City bombing and President Obama’s eulogy for the Revd Clementa Pinckney, pastor of Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

But the South African speaker was right: “Just praying” is not enough. In asking us to petition the highest authority in the universe about mass killings in our country, President Trump was, in effect, pointing us to a level of authority in the universe higher than his own.

Having done that, he would do well to encourage us to reflect upon – and even to argue with each other about – what God wants us to do about the accessibility of weapons of violence in our society. We might start with what an ancient Hebrew writer reported about his own sense of what God thinks about such matters:

“‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4: 6).

It would be good to hear a word from the president now about how we can find the laws and practices that will counter the ways we have come to rely on the instruments of violence to provide our security, both at home and abroad.


Home News

  • Visit of Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant to Connor Diocese Centre of Mission
  • Enniskillen Cathedral Captain Oates plaque dedication
  • The muniments of Swift’s Cathedral
  • New edition of parish history book planned to celebrate 150-year anniversary of St Bartholomew’s church, Dublin
  • Tribute – Canon Cyril W.M. Rolston
  • Dedication of a silver cross in memory of influential parish organist



Rethinking Church – Never-ending story

Life Lines – Partnership in prayer


World News

  • Great Britain and Europe: understanding an uneasy relationship  of the 1992, Single within almost  By Bishop John McDowell
  • Gun crime: US bishops calls Church to pray and politicians to act
  • The Church and climate change: RCB comment
  • ‘All God’s Creation is Very Good’


Letters to the Editor

Climate change and investment

A GROUP of Anglican bishops and clergy recently called upon the Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board to “show moral leadership” by divesting from fossil fuels, and to divest from ExxonMobil in particular.

In a letter to The Guardian newspaper the group wrote: “A recent Harvard academic study shows that Exxon knew about the risks of climate change in the 1970s, yet misled the public for decades.” The Anglican group’s letter concludes: “Now is the time for decisive action. We call on Church of England investors to take the lead and immediately divest from ExxonMobil.”

The Church of Ireland in recent years has changed its fossil fuel investment strategy by aligning it to the policy to the Church of England. At General Synod 2017, a motion was passed that committed the RCB to: “exclude investments in coal and tar sands, reduce its oil and gas investments and increase investments in green alternatives, support collaborative engagement, and divest from companies that do not take seriously the transition to a low carbon economy”.

It is timely to ask a few questions to the Representative Church Body. Does the RCB invest in ExxonMobil? What criteria does the RCB use to consider divestment from a company that does not take the issue of climate change seriously? Has the RCB reduced its investments in oil and gas companies during 2017? Does the RCB vet its investments in unit trusts and bonds to ensure no money is invested in coal or tar sands companies?
Stephen Trew, Lurgan Co. Armagh

Human Sexuality

FOR PATRICIA BARKER (13th October) the evidence of modern science has ousted the primitive worldview of the biblical writers. Yet our western worldview today is sometimes shaped as much by ideology as by evidence.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists wrongly told the Church of England that there was “no substantive evidence” that “early childhood experiences” play any role in the formation of a person’s sexual orientation. When publicly challenged, they changed their position radically.

Now (since 2014), they say, “sexual orientation is determined by a combination of biological and postnatal environmental factors”. The word ‘postnatal’ means precisely ‘early childhood’.

Gay activists are also pressing our governments to allow any man to declare himself a woman, and vice versa. This would bring an end to women’s sport – all the competitors in the Wimbledon ladies’ tennis championships could be men who chose to identify as women. This is another clear example of ideology versus science. For Professor Barker, it would be merely a matter of ‘gender expression’. But St Paul would have science on his side in saying that it amounted to exchanging the truth for a lie. If these people were put through any laboratory test, the answer would come back, “They are men.”

This is not to belittle those who tragically feel that they are ‘in the wrong body’. But their problem, and its solution, lies in the mind rather than changing the body.

I would genuinely like to hear how Professor Barker would address the question of male-to-female transgenderism in women’s sport. This is a very serious matter; I have examples from North America involving track events, cycling and martial arts, where women are today being seriously disadvantaged by unscientific transgender ideology.

Dermot O’Callaghan
Hillsborough Co. Down

Priti Patel resignation

NO ONE COULD miss the extent of the coverage on television and in the newspapers given to the resignation of Priti Patel, the UK International Development Secretary, because she visited officials in Israel during a recent private holiday there.

Having lived and worked there as a chef in the Hilton hotel in Tel-Aviv for 10 years, I can understand Priti’s interest in this unique and fascinating country that the world’s media seems to hate.

I myself fed the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, during a round of peace talks with then British PM Tony Blair in the Presidential Suite of the hotel under much security. Ms Patel is accused of not visiting Gaza and the West Bank Palestinians, but she clearly was on a visit to Israel.

What is wrong with showing an interest in Israel in a private capacity, as she was? Obviously the Israelis, knowing who she was, were happy to let her meet some of their dignitaries including Mr Netanyahu, but would such an outcry be heard if this had happened in some other country?

Britain’s foreign policy has clearly been outlined again in all of this coverage; the UK does not recognise the Golan Heights as it was once in Syrian territory and it decries any Jewish settlement in the heartland of Biblical Judea and Samaria which Israel’s opponents prefer to call the ‘West Bank’ (of the Jordan River) rather than using the name ‘Judea/Judah’, as that is the same Hebrew word as the word ‘Jew’! (Yehuda/yehudi).

Britain’s constant denial of Israel’s rights in these disputed areas of what was once the Promised Land for the Twelve Tribes of Israel until it was ethnically cleansed of Jews by the Romans in AD 135 – yet another undeserved holocaust meted out to the Hebrew race – is of great concern to those who value the Judeo- Christian values passed down from the Jewish people.

Only due to the European holocaust in the 1940s was there enough sympathy to allow any Jews to return to the Land of their forefathers as a safer option than the ghettos and gas chambers of Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

The Bible clearly states that “the Lord loveth the gates of Zion ( Jerusalem)” (Psalm 87: 2) yet the British government seems ready to allow the whole of the historic Old City of Jerusalem to become an Islamic Caliphate as ‘East Jerusalem’ includes all that territory.

Redividing Jerusalem will not bring peace as King David penned: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122) – for the Hebrew meaning of ‘peace’ or ‘shalom’ means ‘wholeness’ not dividing it, as the world insists, by giving the ancient Land of Israel away ‘piece by piece’.

Priti Patel should be proud of her visit to Israel and not be intimidated by her pro-Arabist peers who edge towards anti-Semitic views with their anti-Israel rhetoric. Israel has offered the hand of peace to the Arabs from its inception in 1948 but the reply famously has always been ‘No!’ Israel seeks to live in peace with its neighbours.

There are no Jewish suicide bombers. But Israelis face Islamic terror on a daily basis. We must not be anti-Arab in our support of Israel, but we can discern who is the most willing partner for peace and Israel has the more consistent track record.

However, the bias that came out over this last debacle shows exactly where Britain stands concerning Israel. Ambivalent at best. It is a long way since the evangelical fervour that brought about the Balfour Declaration 100 years ago this year.

But Great Britain was clearly blessed by God. Other great empires have fallen after their mistreatment of the Jews, as the Scripture says: “whoever touches you [Israel] touches the apple of his eye” (Zechariah 2: 8).
Colin Nevin Tel-Aviv Israel

Writing competition

THERE IS an opportunity that I think may be of interest to readers of the Gazette. This is a writing competition with the title ‘Celebrating the Gift of Life’.

It is being promoted by the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland and the Irish Christian Writers’ Fellowship. Its importance is in view of the lack of value placed on human life today, being demonstrated by genocide, mass murder, slavery, denial of the rights of the disabled and of course the rights of the unborn.

It is time that the Christian Church stood up and expressed a Christian view on these matters. Something that is written will last not just as long as a sound bite, or for a week, a year or even a century and can be read, reread and absorbed many times.

The details of the competition can be found online (

Joan Bradley


News Extra

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