Church representatives meet new Greek EU presidency
Only three days after the official start of the Greek European Union presidency earlier this month, the Greek Deputy Foreign Minister with specific responsibility for European Affairs, Dimitris Kourkoulas, received a delegation of senior Greek and European Church representatives in Athens. Also in attendance were senior officials from the Foreign Ministry.
The Churches’ delegation included Metropolitan Emmanuel of France,Vice- President of the Conference of European Churches (CEC); Roman Catholic Archbishop Nikolaos Foskolos of Athens; the Revd Dimitri Boukis, General Secretary of the Greek Evangelical Church; and the Revd Guy Liagre, CEC General Secretary.
THE COST OF WEDDINGS
It is sometimes debated as to whether former Church leaders should speak out on public issues after they move on from their leadership role. Perhaps there is no set rule that can apply here but, at the same time, a certain amount of sensitivity is needed with respect to the position of their successors.
However, surely no one could object to the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, speaking publicly about how marriage is nowadays very aggressively marketed, thereby making the actual cost of a marriage with all the extras such as to be very difficult for many to afford. The average cost of a wedding with extras was estimated in a Guardian report last year to be around £20,000/€24,000.
Dr Williams was speaking earlier this month at a symposium arranged by the London law firm, Winckworth Sherwood, on the overall subject of ‘Marriage: Love or Law’. There was a panel of eminent contributors and the event was chaired by Sir Mark Hedley, a recently retired High Court Judge in the Family Division.
Emily Brand, Partner at Winckworth Sherwood, explained that the debate had been designed to be “a cultural MOT on the institution of marriage and for our experts to take a look at the current issues and influences”. One of the firm’s Partners, Carol Ellinas, added that the ‘marketisation’ of marriage had been identified as “a huge pressure that couples face to create the perfect wedding day”, bringing financial burdens as well as “an emotional investment in the day and pressure through the wedding industry and the media for life to remain perfect”.
Dr Williams told the audience that there was a need to take “a long hard look at the marketisation of marriage”, adding: “This, I believe, poses the greatest threat to longterm successful marriages.”
Sometimes the market can be its own worst enemy. By pushing the various wedding extras that come to be seen as essential for a perfect wedding day, the sheer cost, hopefully, will make people begin to ask questions as to just how sensible it is to spend so much money on one day, however important it may be.
The legendary American investor, Warren Buffet, is on record as advising young people to avoid debt as much as possible. Couples getting married should consider simpler arrangements for the day and perhaps hold a reception in a parish hall, many of which these days are excellently equipped – although, admittedly, they may not have a bar. As it is customary, although of course not necessary, to have a glass of wine or ‘bubbly’ at weddings, this could surely be permitted on parochial premises.
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Letters to the Editor
Typhoon Haiyan appeal – Christian Aid thanks
Christian Aid Ireland would like to extend sincere thanks to all those parishes which have generously supported its Philippines Typhoon Haiyan Emergency Appeal both directly and through the Church of Ireland Bishops’ Appeal which has donated €73,200 and £33,700 to date. Christian Aid has been working in the Philippines for more than 30 years and our partner organisations responded immediately.
Their initial priority was to move the most vulnerable people into emergency shelters and provide them with relief packages which included basic food, water purification tablets, soap and hygiene kits.
Ciara Loughney, Christian Aid Ireland’s Humanitarian Programme Advisor, recently reported: “The Christian Aid country team, together with partners and communities, are now planning the next phase of the response, which will include supporting people to build back their homes and livelihoods.
“I spent a month supporting the country team’s response and was deeply impressed by the commitment and dedication of our team and partners, who worked right through Christmas to ensure that assistance reached communities in need, and by the resilience of communities, who are determined to rebuild their lives and start again. We are committed to supporting them through this process.”
Christian Aid’s focus in the coming months and years will continue in the provinces of Leyte, Samar and Iloilo, where our partner organisations will be working with local communities on both disaster prevention and mitigation.
On behalf of Christian Aid and our partner organisations in the Philippines, I should like to take this opportunity to thank sincerely Church of Ireland parishes and Bishops’ Appeal for both financial and prayerful support for our crucial work.
Rosamond Bennett, Chief Executive Officer Christian Aid Ireland Linden House 96 Beechill Road Belfast BT8 7QN
First Female Readers in the Church of Ireland
I refer to the report in the Gazette issue of 3rd January (page 16), which states that Mrs Daphne Wormell and four other ladies “became the first female lay readers in the Church of Ireland”.
My research for ‘Reader Ministry in the Church of Ireland’ clearly establishes that the first lady readers in the Church of Ireland were Mrs Norah Stevenson, wife of Canon Stevenson of Clogher Cathedral, and Susan Austin (later Moore) who were commissioned by Bishop Hanson on 29th June 1972.
The five ladies in Dublin Diocese were commissioned by Archbishop Buchanan in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, on 16th November 1975.
Obviously, the five Dublin readers were not the first female lay readers in the Church of Ireland.
George Leckey Ballymena Co. Antrim BT42 Note: We have advised the source for the Gazette report of this information. Editor
Post-fallout from the Haass talks process, a unity statement was issued by Church leaders calling on politicians to “sustain the momentum and energy” generated by the talks.
Throughout the consultation phase of Haass, our organisation, Innocent Victims United (which comprises 21 membergroups with a combined membership of circa 11,000 victims/survivors), met with the leaderships of the Church of Ireland, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches and it is hoped that a meeting will take place with the Roman Catholic Church over the next few weeks.
We welcomed the opportunity to meet with the Church leaders and to discuss with each of them the matters which are causing greatest concern and distress to the innocent victims and survivors of terrorism. We were heartened by the hearing we received.
The leaders of the Churches went on within their unity statement to reflect that “we are aware of the focus and effort that the forthcoming elections will require of our politicians, but encourage all within the Executive to keep going with the work that has begun so that an acceptable process may be developed”.
This can be viewed as an acceptance on the part of the Churches that there are problems with the current Haass proposals. The Churches are being responsible in not ‘cheerleading’ for the proposals to be implemented.
All of the Church leaders we met acknowledged the distinction between perpetrators and the innocent and also acknowledged that the current definition of victim is not sustainable. Each also recognised that the Terrorism Act 2000 is the basis by which terrorism is defined in law, and that this should be factored within the ‘narrative of the Past’.
We would ask that, in the weeks ahead, the Church leaders come forward with a unity statement covering these issues which could prove powerful in setting the context for further discussions to take place into how ‘the Past’ should be dealt with, and ensuring that a sustainable peace might be forged within this society.
Kenny Donaldson Spokesperson, Innocent Victims United Lisnaskea Co. Fermanagh
Plans for WWI exhibition at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin
With the centenary of World War One on the horizon, we are currently engaging in preparatory work for an exhibition which will focus on how the Cathedral’s community was affected by this war.
The exhibition will also examine how remembrance of those lost to conflict has changed on-site over the past 100 years.
We would like to ask anyone who feels that he or she could contribute towards this exhibition to contact the Cathedral. We are looking specifically for stories of relatives who fought in the war or of how remembrance has changed over the years.
The Cathedral’s Education Department can be contacted on Dublin 453-9472 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Smith Education Officer St Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin 8
The question of the place of women in the Church has been a bone of contention for many centuries.
St Paul was merely reflecting the prevailing view in his day when he wrote that he did not allow women to speak in church. Women and men were separated from each other in synagogues.
Apart from the 12 disciples, a number of women are mentioned in the Gospels. They would seem to have helped with both food and money as Jesus moved throughout the country. Jesus’ mother, Mary, was called “blessed”.
In the Acts of the Apostles, we find praise for women: Lydia in Philippi and Priscilla, wife of Aquilla, in Corinth, both of whom accompanied Paul to Syria to help in his evangelistic work. There are also many references of praise for women in Paul’s Epistles.
Several women are mentioned at the scene of the crucifixion. Women were the first to view the tomb where the body of Jesus was laid and they were the first to find it empty on Easter Day. The risen Christ met them and they ran with the good news to the disciples who were in hiding.
The Church has at last come to recognise the special gifts which women can contribute. Our own Church of Ireland led the way in the British Isles in ordaining a woman to the ministry. I was happy to appoint to Bangor parish the first woman to be ordained here – Katharine Poulton, who is now Dean in the Diocese of Leighlin.
Last year, the Church of Ireland was the first in the British Isles to elect a woman as Bishop: the Most Revd Pat Storey, formerly rector of the parish of St Augustine in Derry Diocese.
I believe that the Church of England will soon follow our example.
It is important to remember that the Church is not just the ordained ministers: every member has a part to play in living the Christian life. Jesus said: “Love God and love your neighbour as yourself”.
We should all express this teaching in our daily lives.
George Mitchell (Canon) 2 Glendun Park Bangor BT20 4UX
Church-wide Mission Conference Approaching
The Church of Ireland is being offered an opportunity to clarify and embrace further its current mission.
From 28th February to 1st March, a representative group of people from every part of the Church of Ireland is to gather for a mission conference at Dromantine, Newry, Co. Down.
The key question to be addressed during the weekend is: ‘How do we articulate the mission of the Church of Ireland in such a way that all Church traditions can embrace, support and enact it?’
The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, and the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Revd Dr Heather Morris, will offer their own perspectives. Andrew McNeile and Dean Katherine Poulton are co-facilitators.
The conference will focus on five innovative mission projects typical of the type of ventures springing up around the Church.
Care has been taken to achieve a balance between urban and rural projects and to include examples on a smaller scale, as well as bigger projects.
Participants will come with their current articulation of mission arising out of reflection on such key documents as the House of Bishops’ Mission Statement and the Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission, and with stories of the potentially significant initiatives they see emerging.
It is hoped to identify key themes and threads which will be shaped into a brief report that will be widely circulated.
This report will form the basis of a discussion at this year’s General Synod when, during a break-out session, members will be invited to consider the implications for every level and corner of the Church of Ireland.
The conference is taking place at the initiative of the Church of Ireland Council for Mission. There may still be places available.
Paul Hoey (The Revd) Secretary of the Council for Mission The Rectory Tamney, Letterkenny Co. Donegal email@example.com
Arthur West Memorial Evensong
Arthur William West, who died at the age of 82 on 28th January 2012, gave huge service to St Patrick’s Cathedral all his life, a span of 75 years’ dedication. We will be commemorating his life at a special Evensong at 3.15pm on 26th January and all are very welcome to join.
Commencing in the 1930s as a choirboy in the Cathedral, Arthur was a pupil of the Choir and Grammar Schools up until 1947. As one of the last of Doctor Hewson’s choristers, he could recall that the Grammar School could field a hockey team, despite the very small numbers then in the school. He excelled in hockey and cricket with both St Patrick’s Schools, Dublin University, YMCA and Three Rock Rovers.
As an adult, his involvement with Cathedral life intensified. He was President of the Past Choristers’ Society in 1957, served on the Board of St Patrick’s Cathedral from 1969 to 2010 (both on the Fabric Sub-committee and as Glebe Warden), was very much immersed in the restoration of the Cathedral from the early 1970s to his retirement from the Board in 2010, and was a Member of the Schools’ Boards from 1974 until 2011.
The West family has commissioned a new set of canticles for the service, The Saint Patrick’s Service, by David Briggs (b.1962), regarded as one of the world’s finest improvisors and now working as a concert organist.
Esther West (Unrelated to Arthur West) St Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin 8
Religion policy of Office of Public Works
When our parish was refused permission to continue its customary Easter Sunrise Eucharist on Slieve Coillte in John F. Kennedy Park near New Ross, Co. Wexford, we had a meeting with the Park’s Director, the Office of Public Works (OPW) person responsible.
During that meeting, we were told that it was OPW policy (unwritten so far) that ‘religious events’ were to be no longer permitted on any OPW property.
This may be of interest to other Church of Ireland parishes and organisations and of significance to their current expressions of worship.
Richard Greene (The Revd) Shallon, 2 Pleasant Avenue Mount Pleasant Waterford
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