COI Gazette – 27th September 2013

The Revd Pat Storey ‘honoured and daunted’ at election to Meath and Kildare

Bishop Elect Pat Storey

Bishop Elect Pat Storey

The Revd Pat Storey, rector of St Augustine’s, Londonderry, who was elected by the House of Bishops last week as the next Bishop of Meath and Kildare – thus becoming the first woman bishop in the Church of Ireland – has told the Gazette that she is “honoured and daunted in equal measure” by her election, adding: “It has been quite a shock and I will need time and everyone’s prayers to take it in.”

She said the future was “very challenging and exciting” . The appointment of the new bishop had passed to the House of Bishops as the Episcopal Electoral College which met on 28th May failed to elect a bishop.

The Archdeacon of Meath, the Ven. Leslie Stevenson, had been elected at a previous Electoral College, but withdrew after a media storm surrounding events in his personal life 14 years ago.




The election of the Revd Pat Storey as the next Bishop of Meath and Kildare brings to reality something on which the Church of Ireland decided as long ago as 1990 – the admission of women to the episcopate.

As the first woman bishop in Ireland, and also the first in Ireland or Britain, Mrs Storey will go to minister in united dioceses where controversy, the details of which have already been sufficiently well rehearsed in public, led to the originally elected Archdeacon Leslie Stevenson withdrawing. Mrs Storey, with her wealth of pastoral experience in a city where ministry is far from easy, will, with God’s grace, be able to bring to this situation a sense of healing and a really new direction for Meath and Kildare. Her presence as a bishop will also bring a new dynamic to the Church of Ireland at large and, of course, to the deliberations of the House of Bishops in particular.

When, following his election to Armagh last year, the Gazette asked Archbishop Clarke about the issue of the non-election of a woman as a bishop over the then 22 years since the legislation had been passed in General Synod, he stressed that it was important for a woman to become a bishop for the right reasons and not out of any “tokenism”. The appointment of Mrs Storey is indeed no token gesture but elevates to the episcopate a woman who is well equipped and able for the task.

The House of Bishops has now given a lead in due time. It is a lead that will surely be an important boost to those in the Church of England who are trying to get legislation for women bishops through the English General Synod, although the very narrow margin against – a matter of a small number of votes in the House of Laity – is one that has been proving very difficult to change. New proposals are due at the General Synod meeting in London next November, and not only will there be the new factor of a woman having been elected as a bishop in the Church of Ireland but there will also be that of the agreement earlier this month by the Church in Wales to allow women to be admitted to the episcopate (Gazette report, last week).

However, the election of a bishop is not about a running competition between the different Churches in these islands, but, as Archbishop Clarke said in our interview last year, is about finding “the right person for the right task”. The House of Bishops has made that search and the election of Mrs Storey now comes as a very happy gift to the whole Church of Ireland.


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Letters to the Editor

The politics of Greenbelt

The irenic tone of Jeni McAughey’s letter (13th September) must not blind us to the fact that the Greenbelt festival this year refused to tolerate the presence of anyone desiring to give an alternative voice to the well-rehearsed, clinically constructed mantras of that organization.

In reality, Greenbelt is a closed shop, operating on a one-dimensional agenda. In seeking (along with its political allies) to excoriate the state of Israel, it has singularly refused to grapple with the historical background to the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict.

What is more galling is the downright refusal of Greenbelt and its associates to grapple with the wider political ramifications of what is happening at present in the Middle East.

The passing statement of Dr McAughey that Israel “has a right to security” merely trivialises the current cataclysmic events surrounding the Jewish state. Hamas and Hezbollah seek the extirpation of Israel.

The former is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood which, during its short tenure of office, encouraged the destruction of Christian churches and the persecution of believers in Egypt.

The latter is a lackey of the Iranian regime, not only actively seeking the eradication of Israel but also heavily involved with the Assad regime in the mass slaughter of innocent civilians, not to mention the displacement of millions of Syrian citizens.

Why, then, if Greenbelt and its ally, Christian Aid, are so concerned about justice, do they vent their spleen on Israel, while refusing to address the issues of injustice and debauchery that exist in the rest of the region?

Why do they refuse to be specific regarding the persecution and decimation of the Christian population throughout the whole of the Middle East?

Perhaps the small Jewish state with its failings presents an easy target for outbursts of (self?) righteous indignation, but what is happening now in the Middle East cannot be divorced from the internecine conflict gripping the Islamic world.

I await the day when that world is critiqued by Greenbelt with the same alacrity as applied to the state of Israel, but I have a suspicion that the ‘fear factor’ could dominate proceedings here.

Colin McCormack (The Revd) Clonallon Rectory Warrenpoint Co. Down BT34 3RZ

Constant Prayer

Under the inspiration of our Diocesan Lay Reader, Val Bleakley, 48 hours of constant prayer were offered up – from 6.00pm on Thursday 22nd to 6.00pm on Saturday 24th August. Intended as a springboard for seeking the Lord for our autumn season, this proved an inspirational focal point of blessing.

The church porch became a sanctuary to be with God. The fact that God would be so concerned about us that he would draw us to set up a prayer room where he would come and talk with us and we to him amazed all who participated.

What was described as a “volley of prayers” became a tribute to the willingness of God to be heard by sinful, broken people at their very point of need. That made these days and nights of seeking God a joy!

I strongly recommend that parishes attempt a similar cycle of prayer.

Donard Collins (The Revd) 4 Laurel Hill Road Coleraine

‘Killaloe’ lantern slide collection

The recent coverage on BBC Northern Ireland news programmes and in the Gazette (6th September) of the slides of David Brown in the ‘Killaloe’ lantern slide collection – in connection with the Gazette ‘Archive of the Month’ feature (31st May) – brought back warm memories of years ago.

When I was just a small primary school boy attending Castlerobin Primary School, Lisburn, it was a great event each week throughout the winter time to attend a midweek meeting held by the Revd Patrick Sheppard (‘Paddy’ to all who knew him), the rector of Derriaghy, in a small hall at the top of the nearby Barnfield Road.

Mr Sheppard had a projector like the one illustrated on page 16 of the Gazette, 6th September, and he used glass slides week by week to serialise the story of Jesus’ life.

It was a memorable experience sitting each week in the dark room lit only by the light of the projector.

It was there that my love for projectors, slides and photography was born – and the seeds sown of the story told did bear fruit.

I wonder what became of Mr Sheppard’s projector and slides. Does anyone know?

David Larmour David Larmour Photography 87 Whitehill Park Limavady Co. Londonderry BT49 0QF

Holy Communion by Extension

The Order for Holy Communion by Extension has been authorised for experimental use by the House of Bishops for almost seven years. As this experimental period is drawing to a close, the Liturgical Advisory Committee is keen to assess the use of this facility in terms of breadth, frequency and practicality.

We would be most grateful if you could take a few minutes to fill out the online survey link below, which will help us develop the Order for Holy Communion by Extension and make recommendations to the House of Bishops for any future use. A paper copy of this survey is also available from, and should be returned to the Revd Adrian Dorrian, St Mark’s Rectory, 4 Sydenham Avenue, Belfast BT4 2DR , Northern Ireland, by 31st October 2013.

Those concerned are asked to take a couple of minutes to complete this survey, even if they do not use the Order for Holy Communion by Extension. The online link is

Gerald Field (Canon) Hon. Secretary to the Liturgical Advisory Committee Church of Ireland House Church Avenue Rathmines Dublin 6



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