COI Gazette – 24th November 2017

Inaugural Jonathan Swift Festival

Dean William Morton, Mary Coughlan, Jim Sheridan, Stephen James-Smith and the Cathedral Choristers

Dean William Morton, Mary Coughlan, Jim Sheridan, Stephen James-Smith and the Cathedral Choristers

The inaugural Jonathan Swift Festival, taking place from 23th to 30th November, marks the 350th anniversary of Swift’s birthday. Located in the environs of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, it celebrates his legacy as a writer, satirist, poet and Dubliner of note.

But who was Jonathan Swift? A fierce Irish patriot, who was depressed by being born Irish. A priest, with questionable faith. A man best known for his pastime. A rebel who was part of the establishment. Swift is a man of many contradictions, talents and surprises.

He is undoubtedly best known as the author of Gulliver’s Travels. First published in 1726, it has never been out of print. It was a massive success and initially printing couldn’t keep up with demand. It has since be reimagined by different generations and was recently voted by The Guardian newspaper as the third most popular novel of all time.




I’ve never been a member of Standing Committee. Yet, it was a presentation I was invited to make to that body that provided me with an occasion I would rather forget.

The Standing Committee is one of the key decision- making bodies in the Church of Ireland. Its role is to carry out the functions of the General Synod which have been delegated to it by the Synod, while the Synod is not in session. It meets six times a year and its membership includes the Archbishops and Bishops, the four Honorary Secretaries of the General Synod, two clerical and two lay representatives from each of the twelve dioceses and seven co-opted members.

Twelve years ago, I was appointed as Director of the Church of Ireland Hard Gospel Project – a three- year project to help the Church address the issue of sectarianism. One of my first tasks was to give a presentation to Standing Committee about the future work of the project. After considerable preparation, I had a presentation ready to give. Duly suited and booted, I attended at the appointed time and did what I was asked to do.

The issue of reconciliation was, and is, something I feel deeply about. I had worked with a peacebuilding organisation, completed a postgraduate qualification, written about the subject and was in the job I felt called to. I also had a reasonable sense of what the project should do. Essentially, I was in my comfort zone.

Was it nervousness at having to make a presentation to such a body? Or was it trying to appear as though I was on top of my brief or coming across as I thought I ‘ought’ to? Probably all the above and more. Let’s just say it wasn’t my finest hour and the responsibility was my own. Conveniently I genuinely forget most of what I said. However, my memory is of making a rather wooden presentation that hid behind more jargon and management speak than it should have. That it was not a roaring success is not just my opinion. I have evidence to prove it!

Never ask a question you don’t want the answer to. Afterwards I went to lunch with a friend – someone I like and whose opinion I value. “Well,” I asked, “what did you think of it?” His answer was straight and to the point. “I didn’t believe it, because I knew that you didn’t believe it.” I knew he was right.

In this week’s Gazette, we have examined an independent report that has recently been launched (pages 8&9). Entitled Finding Faith in Ireland: The Shifting Spiritual Landscape of Teens & Young Adults in The Republic of Ireland, it examines the decline of Christian faith in the youth of Ireland in the context of the pressures that these young people face. The ages 14-25 have been examined, through the format of 96 one-on-one interviews, 750 online questionnaires and contributions from youth leaders. The report has been compiled by Barna, an American Christian research group founded in 1984.

The Barna report highlights one thing above all else – that the spiritual landscape in Ireland is shifting profoundly. Its findings give expression to what that shift looks like. It highlights the challenge of reaching teens and young adults with the Christian faith. It is in such a culture that we are challenged to communicate the faith and make disciples – it was ever thus.

There are many things we may choose to take away from this report. As we think of who will tell this generation, perhaps there is some learning to be had from a red-faced presenter to Standing Committee – the importance of being convinced ourselves of what we are saying to our audience. They will know. So will we.


Home News

  • Representatives from four governments take part in Enniskillen Service of Remembrance
  • Stanford in Canterbury
  • Celebrating 200 years of worship and witness at historic Co. Wicklow church
  • Diocese of Kilmore welcome service
  • Bishop strikes note of good cheer at Cashel, Ferns and Ossory Diocesan Synod
  • Presentation to mark 50 years of service in Connor parish choir
  • Diocese of Down Institution
  • Focus on Connor Diocese



In Perspective – What’s behind the window?

Insight – Creativity and faith – Artist Carole Kane on how ‘art, creativity and faith meet.’

Telling the next generation

Letters to the Editor

Student Christian work

CHRISTIAN UNIONS in Irish Universities (formerly known in some places as ‘Bible Unions’ or ‘Evangelical Unions’) are approaching the centenary of their first beginnings.

I have been asked by CUs Ireland (formerly IFES Ireland, UCCF Ireland and Inter-Varsity
Fellowship) to gather some research. An online survey is available at https://www. survey or I can be contacted at 1 Kilbourne Park, Carnalea, BT19 1ES; farisjohn@gmail. com.

We would love to hear from those who were members of CUs in Irish universities and colleges and also from those who were in the Student Christian Movement (SCM) or chaplaincy groups to get a bigger picture.

John Faris (the Revd) Carnalea, Co. Down

Broadcast Service

I LISTENED to Sunday Worship on BBC Radio 4 on Remembrance Sunday.

I thought that a better balance could have been achieved between Remembering and resurrection hope. I was surprised that in his words of introduction the Rt Revd Kenneth Clarke not once referred to the hope of Christian families that they will be reunited with their fallen loved ones, nor did the preacher, Lord Eames. How would they explain this omission?

Andrew W. U. Furlong Dalkey,

Co. Dublin


Book Reviews

GOSPEL REFLECTIONS FOR SUNDAYS OF YEAR B: MARK Author: Donal Neary SJ Publisher: Messenger Publications

LET ADVENT BE ADVENT Author: Vincent Sherlock Publisher: Messenger Publications

PRAYING THE BIBLE WITH LUTHER Author: Michael Parsons Publisher: BRF; pp.137


News Extra

  • President visits Holy Trinity, Errislannan
  • Reformation 500: Cork, Cloyne and Ross commemorative service
  • Concert celebrates lasting legacy of remarkable woman
  • Appointment