COI Gazette – 27th March 2015

Archbishop of Canterbury speaks powerfully on reconciliation during historic St Patrick’s Day visit to Downpatrick


Archbishop Justin Welby delivers his address at the St Patrick’s Day Festival Service in Down Cathedral. (Photo: Annette McGrath)


In the course of an historic St Patrick’s Day visit last Tuesday (17th March) to Saul and Downpatrick, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, spoke powerfully on the theme of reconciliation, one of his key priorities in ministry, highlighting Northern Ireland as a symbol of hope around the world and urging people not to give up on “the long road’ to reconciliation.

Archbishop Welby came at the invitation of the Bishop of Down and Dromore, the Rt Revd Harold Miller, and joined the diocese’s annual St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

It was the first time in over 50 years that a serving Archbishop of Canterbury had made the pilgrimage from Saul to Down Cathedral and preached at the Festival Service.



One of the best-loved figures in 17th century Church history, George Herbert – poet, pastor and Anglican priest – was born in Wales and educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he excelled in the Classics and Music and was made a Fellow and, later, Public Orator of the university.

Greatly favoured by King James I, and serving as a Member of Parliament for two years, he seemed marked out for a career as a courtier, but after the King’s death – and his sponsors being either dead or out of favour – his life turned in a different direction.

Herbert had originally intended to offer himself for the Church’s ministry but, under the influence of his friend, Nicholas Ferrar, of Little Gidding fame (Editorial, 6th March), he turned to the study of Divinity and was ordained priest in 1630, when he became rector of Fugglestone with St Andrew’s, Bemerton, Wiltshire.

He is associated particularly with the latter church, which he helped to rebuild with his own funds. Thereafter, he devoted himself to his rural ministry, out of which came his classic A Priest to the Temple, or, The Country Parson his Character and Rule of Holy Life, which offered practical advice to members of the clergy and in which he advised that “things of ordinary use”, such as ploughs, leaven or dances, could be made to  “serve for lights even of heavenly truths”.
George Herbert remains best known for his poetry, nearly all of which was published after his death by his friend and neighbour, Ferrar. His poems, which are characterized by a verbal dexterity combined with deep religious feeling, were to influence his fellow metaphysical poet, Henry Vaughan, who, in turn, influenced William Wordsworth. Herbert’s poetry has been set to music by a number of composers, including Ralph Vaughan Williams, Henry Purcell and Benjamin Britten.

Several of Herbert’s poems have become well-known hymns, including King of glory, King of peace; Teach me, my God and King; and Let all the world in every corner sing. His first biographer, Isaac Walton, described Herbert on his death-bed as “composing such hymns and anthems as he and the angels now sing in heaven”.

As a pastor, Herbert practised what he preached and was assiduous in his duties, visiting his people, bringing them Holy Communion when they were ill, and providing food and clothing for those in need. He was described by a contemporary as “a most glorious saint and seer”.

This editorial is one in a series of occasional reflections on figures in Church history, following a chronological sequence as they appear.


Home News

  • Presentation of Communion Cup to Belfast Cathedral
  • Belfast ‘Black Santa’ donation to cyclone-hit Vanuatu appeal
  • Mothers’ Union members ‘ready to pour’ again
  • Diocese of Connor institution
  • The Church of Ireland Gazette 1915 editions now digitized and fully searchable online
  • Building policies on relationships and dignity in ‘long term’ Church life
  • Dublin and Glendalough Ministry of Healing newsletter


  • Musings – Legacies – Alison Rooke
  • Insight – Northern Ireland and the language of reconciliation By Earl Storey
  • Focus on Armagh Diocese

World News


  • Jean Vanier, friend of developmentally disabled, wins Templeton Prize
  • Anglican Alliance  calls for prayer support for Displaced Syrians
  • Vatican refuses ransom demand for Michelangelo letters
  • Poor security led to terror attacks, says Church of Pakistan

Letters to the Editor

The Church, the Constitution and same-sex marriage

EIMHIN WALSH (13th March) says that the motive of the marriage equality campaign is “to ensure the existing right to marriage is extended to all citizens”. That is already the case. Of course, some will say, “I don’t want to marry an opposite sex partner”, but that is a different matter.

Yes, marriage is a human right for individuals. The European Court of Human Rights ruled, however, that the European Convention does not require states “to grant same- sex couples [as opposed to individuals] access to marriage”.
This is not a human rights issue.
Dr Walsh says the consequences of same- sex marriage “are not nforeseeable” – that they are beneficial and will reduce ambiguity.
Yet far from reducing ambiguity, the redefinition of marriage would increase it.
If marriage no longer involves the two sexes, why limit it to two people? What is consummation? What is adultery? Can a man be a mother? Who is my father? Why is my mother’s name not on my birth certificate? Who allowed them to falsify my family tree?

The questions are legion and troubling.

Decades ago, Malcolm Macourt, a leader in the Gay Christian Movement, outlined a radically different vision: “monogamy – multiple partnerships; partnerships for fe – partnerships for a period of mutual growth; same- sex partners – opposite-sex partners – both … ” [Towards a Theology of Gay Liberation, SCM Press, 1977]. Given the dramatic changes in public opinion we have seen in recent years, this outcome is also “not unforeseeable”.

Before voting, let the reader consider carefully which of the two is more likely to ensue.

The Irish Constitution pledges to defend marriage, not to redefine it. It is time for us to stand with the Roman Catholic Church.

Dermot O’Callaghan, Hillsborough Co. Down BT26

Church ‘at its very best’

IT WAS a pleasure to be present in a packed St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, on Sunday 8th March for the commissioning of five Parish Readers.

Those ‘on the hill’ of Armagh responsible for so carefully planning this event deserve our sincere gratitude for a truly inspirational and uplifting occasion.

The organist lead the congregation heartily in singing some very well chosen hymns. Who could forget such words as “Jesus calls us to each other, vastly different though we are; race and colour, class and gender neither limit nor debar”?

Worthy and inclusive, we got it all!

The choir was totally secure and their unaccompanied singing of some verses from Psalm 119 (Chant 367 for those readers with enough interest to check it out) was heartfelt and, throughout the rendition, perfect tuning never flinched.
The service also included  some sung parts from the former organist’s beautiful Celtic Eucharist.
The Warden of Readers has most certainly done his work – I am regularly on the ‘receiving end’ of one of his most recent prodigys and, appropriately, the Warden gave the address on the day.

He delivered a very punchy sermon – Bible- based, of course – offering encouragement not only to the five persons being commissioned but also to all present, whilst extolling the virtues of well ordered Anglican worship.
In the week which followed, numerous folk I met who were present at the service simply said: “Wasn’t that fantastic?”
An example of our Church at its very best.
Earl Moffitt  Armagh

Book Review – RECONCILIATION: THE JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME Author: Brian Castle Publisher: SPCK; pp.256

News Extra

  • A message for Holy Week and Easter from the Archbishops of Armagh
  • New Synod Officer appointed
  • English bishop visiting Dublin backs same-sex marriage
  • British/Irish relations ‘better than ever’ – British Ambassador to Ireland tells St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, congregation
  • Death