COI Gazette – 18th March 2016

Diocese of Derry and Raphoe celebrates ‘Year of Opportunity 2016’

Bishop Ken Good thanks parishes for their “creative plans” for transforming community and radiating Christ.

Bishop Ken Good thanks parishes for their “creative plans” for transforming community and radiating Christ.

Hundreds of parishioners from all across the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe converged on Letterkenny on Friday 11th March for a special event to celebrate the Diocese’s ‘Year of Opportunity 2016’.

They were joined by leaders of other Christian churches in the North West and among the highlights was a video message – which had arrived only hours before the event began – from the Bishop of Butere, in Kenya, where the first Christian church was established by a missionary from Derry and Raphoe 100 years ago this year.

The event included prayers and hymns – among them a rendition of Amazing Grace, led by local piper Billy Doherty.

This year, 2016, has been designated a ‘Year of Opportunity’ in Derry and Raphoe, with a special focus on mission, children and generosity. Bishop Ken Good told the hundreds gathered in Letterkenny Institute of Technology that they were embarking on this year “not out of a sense of duty or as a burden or an inconvenience but with a sense of gratitude, of love and of thanksgiving in joyful response to what God has first done for us”.



In our editorial last week, certain aspects of St Patrick’s life and spirituality were considered – his sanctity, his devotion, his outreach and his endurance. Because of the day on which 17th March falls this year, some Gazette readers will receive their papers before or on St Patrick’s Day and some will receive them after that day. A further consideration on the theme of Patrick will thus still be in keeping with the time.

As is well known, legend has it that St Patrick used a shamrock in order to teach about the Holy Trinity. In fact, there are different legends about just how he is said to have done this but, whatever happened, the idea of using the shamrock for this particular purpose is clearly is a good one. The three, usually equally sized and shaped leaves on the one stem illustrate the three, co-equal persons in the Trinity. As an illustration it is, naturally, not an actual explanation; much ink has been spilled in attempting to explain the Trinity and theologians will no doubt continue to spill yet much more on the subject. The shamrock does not actually unlock the mystery of just how God can be one-in- three but it does symbolise that truth in very notable and memorable way.

One of the interpretations of the doctrine of the Trinity is to see the three-in-one model as witnessing to the ‘social’ aspect of the inner life of God, the relational nature of God in himself thus becoming a testimony to God’s purposes for humanity: God knows relational harmony within his own life and, similarly, relational harmony is God’s will for us.

It is an understanding of the Trinity that can well be applied in terms of challenge to humanity but it is not without its theological critics. In his book, Systematic Theology (SPCK, 2015), Anthony Thiselton points to discussion surrounding subordinationism within the Trinity in I Corinthians 11: 2f and 15: 24-28. He also points to criticism of the ‘social Trinity’ concept as having arisen from the egalitarianism of the 1970s onwards, suggesting that adopting the ‘social Trinity’ idea – following the 19th century German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach – betrays humanity’s too great readiness to create ‘God’ in its own image. (Feuerbach saw the idea of God as a human ‘projection’.) Then again, is the idea of the ‘social Trinity’ a charter for socialism or even communism?

Certainly, such a discussion runs deep and can raise the theological temperature but, at the same time, viewing the Trinity in social terms is a very helpful call to all humanity to live a life that reflects divine peace and concord, if not an actual political programme – and so we are led in the direction of another vital discussion: the interplay of religious conviction and political activism.

The shamrock is associated with Patrick and, through him, with the Trinity. St Patrick’s-tide is thus a time to reflect on the trinitarian life of God in all its sacred mystery. In fact, it is not only a time to reflect in this way but also a time actually to recommit ourselves to God as one-in-three. Indeed, Patrick wrote: “I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity.”


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Book Reviews

Author: Adrian Empey Publisher: Four Courts Press; pp.65

ISBN: 978-1-84682-579-8

Author: John Pritchard Publisher: SPCK; pp.13


A new, online supplement of The Church of Ireland Gazette
The Church of Ireland Gazette has launched a new online journal, The Inter-Anglican Review.

The intention is to give Anglicans around the world a quarterly glimpse of what Anglicanism looks like in other places. We hope that by doing so we will help Anglicans have a better understanding of the Communion to which they belong.

With so much happening in the world today to disturb the unity of Anglicanism, it is more important now than ever for each part to understand where it fits into the whole.

The content of The Inter-Anglican Review is being managed by the Revd Patrick Burke as an assistant editor in the Gazette team.

The Inter-Anglican Review can be visited at  where a list of the contents of the first issue can be found. To access the articles, we are making an introductory offer of £5.00 for four issues, payable online.


News Extra

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