COI Gazette – 6th December 2013

Bishop Pat Storey consecrated in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

Bishop Pat and the Revd Earl Storey pictured at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, last Saturday

Bishop Pat and the Revd Earl Storey pictured at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, last Saturday

At the consecration service last Saturday of the Most Revd Pat Storey as Bishop of Meath and Kildare, in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, a congregation of over 500 people gathered for the historic occasion of the elevation of the first woman priest to be a bishop in the Church of Ireland.

The service was led by the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Michael Jackson, and the preacher was the Revd Nigel Parker, rector of St Comgall’s, Bangor, Diocese of Down.

The Old Testament lesson was read by the Revd Earl Storey, Bishop Storey’s husband; the Epistle was read by Dierdre Amor, a vestry member from St Augustine’s Parish, Londonderry, where the new bishop was rector from 2004, and the Gospel read by the Revd Trevor Holmes, a deacon.




The consecration last Saturday, St Andrew’s Day, of Bishop Pat Storey was a special moment in the life of the new bishop but also a special moment for the Dioceses of Meath and Kildare, the Church of Ireland and, indeed, the wider Church. As Bishop Storey is the first woman bishop in the Anglican Churches in these islands, the moment was also an historic one. Many have waited long for this to happen and now the decisive step that the Church of Ireland took in 1990 in legislating for women in the episcopate has borne its fruit. The eyes of the Church of England in particular will have been on the events at Christ Church Cathedral as that Church makes its way towards making the same provision.

Now, however, things move beyond the historic moment to the everyday work of the new bishop. There will be the demands of episcopal leadership in Meath and Kildare, of ministry to clergy and people, and of diocesan administration. There will be responsibilities in the wider Church of Ireland and, no doubt, calls on Bishop Storey to involvement in the Anglican Communion and ecumenically, both at home and further afield. It is an immense responsibility but it is one for which God’s grace will bring both strength and wisdom. Rightly, the Church prays at this time for Bishop Storey and her husband, Earl, and their family. Indeed, in all ministry, there are demands on the ordained’s family and, in turn, the ordained find the support of family as a gift from God that is of immeasurable help.

St Andrew’s Day will, from now on, have an extra significance for Bishop Storey. Andrew it was who, with enthusiasm, led his brother, Simon Peter, to Christ. St John tells us: “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.” (John 1: 40ff) The wider Church knows the new bishop to be a truly enthusiastic disciple, ready to speak of Christ and to witness to him. At a time of much religious scepticism and even ambivalence, the confidence with which Bishop Storey will reach out in Christian faith to the world at large will surely be a blessing to others, and to all of us.


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Letters to the Editor

Suicide among gay people

As the Director of Cara- Friend, an LGBT mental health organisation, it was with particular interest that I noted the recent letters of the Revd Andrew Rawding and the Revd Patrick Burke (Gazette, 8th and 22nd November).

In May 2013, I gave a presentation to a wellattended fringe meeting of the Church of Ireland General Synod in Armagh which discussed the particular evidence for Church influenced poor mental health amongst many LGBT people.

The statistics are disturbing for our young people and for those of us charged with positions of leadership. Young people who identify as LGBT are at least 2.5 times more likely to self-harm, five times more likely to be medicated for depression and at least three times more likely to attempt suicide, than their heterosexual counterparts. Bountiful research is published and available on request.

The primary factors influencing LGBT mental health are homophobia, homo-negative statements from authority figures within the family, Church and political establishments, and invisibility due to fear of discrimination.

Different ways of approaching difficult issues within the Church environment can lead to either experiences that are destructive to the mental health of LGBT people or experiences which acknowledge difference and affirm people as human beings of worth and value. Dr Rowan Williams said of LGBT people within the Church in 2012 that “there is a hangover from the feeling that you are condemned in your entirety for what you are doing, for what you are. If people are getting the message that they are condemned for what they are, then of course there is a serious mental health impact”.

Cara-Friend provides the only specialist counselling service for young LGBT people aged 14 to 25 years old in Northern Ireland, and many every year who suffer depression, isolation and suicide ideation cite their experience with the Church as a contributing factor. Yet I could not find one single young LGBT Christian to attend General Synod with me and talk about a positive experience of the Church.

Many of the young LGBT Christians we work with believe they are fundamentally abominable in the eyes of God for who they are and for their very existence, and those who have ‘come out’ often feel shunned by their Church. Cara-friend would certainly be delighted to work with the Church to produce a piece of research specifically investigating this issue further.

Steve Williamson Director, Cara-Friend 9-13 Waring Street Belfast

‘Church Planting’ seminar

I do agree with the Revd Stanley Monkhouse (Letters, 29th September) that there is much work to be done on developing the approach to Church Planting and growth in rural Irish settings and all the issues he raises in that context will need careful consideration.

Some parishes in the Church of Ireland have made a very helpful start and I could happily point him in their direction if that would help.

I was, however, disappointed with his characterisation of the Revd Ric Thorpe’s approach as being based on his Unilever background and his ministry driven by a macho numbers culture, which did not seem to be the right way to honour publicly the ministry of a foreign visitor who seeks only to offer help.

The Revd Ric Thorpe has spent two years in Unilever and 24 years in ministry; I thought our tradition was to honour clergy’s former experiences in sales, marketing, banking, law, accountancy, education, etc. as something that enriches their ministry and any negativities associated with those professions we consider sanctified by the grace of the ministry that has followed them. His principles, I would suggest, owe more to the 24 years in ministry than the two years in marketing. The Revd Ric Thorpe’s 24 years in ministry also do not bear witness to a numeric macho culture but fruitfulness out of inner call and devotion. The Bishop of London clearly saw such spiritual qualities within him in appointing him as the Bishop of London’s advisor on Church Planting.

My hope and prayer for the Church of Ireland is that we can honour the past, navigate change in the present and build for the future in growth, unity and service and honour the ministry of everyone from every stream who seeks to help to build God’s Kingdom “for such a time as this”.

Andrew McNeile Mount Merrion Co. Dublin

Women as priests and bishops

With regard to recent correspondence on the ordination of women, I wish to highlight the book, How I Changed My Mind About Women In Leadership (Zondervan, 2010, General Editor Alan F. Johnson), which contains 21 stories of individuals and married couples, all of whom are prominent evangelicals, yet who have come to believe that women are called to serve God in all positions of leadership.

Amongst those whose stories are told are Bill and Lynne Hybels, John and Nancy Ortberg, I. Howard Marshall, Roger Nicole and John Bernard Taylor. The book’s Foreword is by Dallas Willard.

Many of the objections and arguments against women in ministry in these stories may well resonate with others opposed to women’s ordination. It may be hoped that those reading this book, who are opposed, might, if not change their stance, at least gain new insight into how one may hold to the authority of Scripture and be convinced as to its endorsement of women’s ordination.

In the case of Alan F. Johnson, he writes (p.123): “I found that eventually without any Scripture twisting or abandoning of biblical authority I could now without reservation support and advocate the full participation of women as whole persons in all aspects of the gospel ministry without male oversight or permission, including the highest pastoral and leadership positions in the church.”

Keith Marshall (The Revd) 4 Killycomain Drive Portadown Co. Armagh BT63 5JJ


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