COI Gazette – 6th September 2012

Bishop Miller delivers Bible exposition over four evenings in Belfast

Bishop Miller speaking at his Bible Week series (Photo: A. McGrath)

Bishop Miller speaking at his Bible Week series (Photo: A. McGrath)

It was standing room only as the Bishop’s Bible Week got underway in Willowfield Parish Church at the end of August. Bishop Harold Miller’s decision to ‘Speak Personally’ to his Diocese of Down and Dromore proved popular and timely with record attendance on each of the four nights.

Daphne Wright and her husband Gordon are parishioners of Holywood Parish and supporters of The Dock Church in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter. They have been coming to the Bible Week for several years: “We love the way it brings all the different ages in the diocese together,” said Daphne.

“This year it’s been so good to hear what the Bishop believes God’s saying to us through his Word.”



Since 29th August, the 2012 Paralympic Games have been in full progress in London. The first occasion on which the Paralympics used not only the same host city but also the same facilities as the Olympic Games was in 1988 in Seoul, South Korea. That practice was followed on subsequent occasions and in 2001 a formal agreement on the arrangement was reached between the International Paralympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee.

The issue of equality between the two competitions is a subject that is often raised and it would be good if the two could be further integrated. In fact, the South African sprinter, Oscar Pistorius, both of whose legs have been amputated below the knee and who races with two carbon fibre blades, has crossed between both. He won gold medals in the 100, 200, and 400 metre sprints in the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing and qualified for the Olympic Games themselves this year, becoming the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics when he entered the men’s 400 metre race and was part of South Africa’s 4 x 400 metre relay team.

The International Committees of both Games should examine the possibilities for more integration of both competitions in the future. The principle has been established as right: the Chair of the London organising committee of both the Olympics and Paralympics, Lord Coe, was reported by The Guardian newspaper in 2010 as commenting that the two Games should be seen as “an integrated whole” (see also Ron Elsdon, ‘Life Lines’, page 12).

The origins of the Paralympic Games are, of course, inspiring. The German-born British neurologist, Sir Ludwig Guttmann, who set up the the National Spinal Injuries Centre in 1943 at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, saw the potential for sport to play a part in both the physical and the mental rehabilitation of injured military personnel. He followed through that belief by organising the first Stoke Mandeville Games in 1948, on the same day as the start of that year’s London Olympic Games.

A special prayer for the Paralympics, issued by the Church of England, asks God to grant a vision of a world united in mutual respect and tolerance, in fairness and encouragement, and in harmony and peace. That petition surely reflects the spirit of sport at its best.

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Letters to the Editor

Clergy under criticism

I very much enjoyed reading Archdeacon Stevenson’s interesting letter (10th August) in which he referred to clergy who refrained from visiting elderly parishioners in their own homes, breaking, in the Archdeacon’s own words, the vows they once took at their ordination.

The Revd Stanley Monkhouse in his letter (17th August) didn’t agree and was quick to rebuke this “retired Archdeacon” who he thought should have had better things to do with his time. Your two correspondents, Eric McElhinney and Lilian Webb, I would say spoke for the majority of your readers in their letters of support of Archdeacon Stevenson (Letters, 24th August).

In my opinion, pastoral visiting should always be top priority for our clergy. Elderly folk unable to get out to church should not be forgotten about.

They all deserve a special visit at least twice a year; they obviously have some important spiritual matters to discuss with the rector as they reach their twilight years.

No doubt many rectors carry out their pastoral duties very diligently and their visits are very much appreciated yet sadly, too many of them are neglectful pastors. They can still find the time to attend all kinds of committee meetings and other social functions in the neighbourhood during the week.

Archdeacon Stevenson has had many long years as a parish visitor and well knows what he is talking about.

In my opinion, Bishops should be kept informed of those absent minded clergy and give them some words of advice.

I do feel that the lack of pastoral care by so many of our clergy is but one of a number of symptoms of spiritual neglect experienced in parish life today.

Congregations are hungering for good gospel teaching from the pulpits of our churches; sadly they are not always getting this and consequently church attendance is on the decline.

Wilfred Breen, Omagh.

When I was ordained in 1947, a clergyman full of years of experience said to me: “Griffin, you’ll need three books – a Bible, a Prayer Book and a Visiting Book. Read your Bible, say your prayers and visit your people. This threefold cord is primary. Whatever else you do is secondary.”

This wise advice I believe is still relevant now 65 years later, whatever “the changes and chance of this fleeting world”.

Victor G. Griffin (The Very Revd)  Limavady

Church finances

I welcome the thoughts behind the editorial in the Gazette of 24th August in relation to the need seriously to consider income generation.

The RCB does a first class job in difficult circumstances and is to be commended for that. It seems to me, however, that the real issue is the malaise that there appears to be throughout our Church in terms of the financial responsibility of God’s people to support his work.

I do not actually consider this to be so much a financial problem as a spiritual one, as indeed was intimated in the editorial’s reference to the need for spiritual commitment in facing the finance challenge. If people are inspired in their pews by God’s vision for that place, and for the wider Church, then they will be inspired to devote their time, talent and resources, including their money, to ensuring that that vision is implemented.

Part of that process will, I suggest, involve deepening the link between parish and diocese and between diocese and central Church, including the RCB, so that people see the whole picture and understand how all our structures can, and do, make a positive contribution to the mission and ministry of the Church.

We need to avoid slipping into a ‘last one out turn off the lights’ mentality to a ‘let’s turn up the lights, find new lights to turn on and provide the money to pay the electricity bills’. So to the RC B, keep up the good work – it is God’s Church and we are all in this together and need to work closer together for the good of the Kingdom.

I am sure I speak for many when I wish Adrian Clements well on taking up the post of Chief Officer.

Ken Gibson Lisburn.

Archbishop Temple sermon in British Council film archive

William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1942-44, is considered by many to be the most influential Anglican of the twentieth century, yet I imagine that most members of the Church of Ireland know little about him.

Although I had read one of his books, I had never even seen a photograph of him, for example.

I was delighted recently to discover that the British Council has a film archive comprising some 120 documentary films about the UK which were made during the 1940s.

Gazette readers may in particular find interesting a full-length sermon by the Archbishop, preached in 1944. The sermon focuses on the Christian history of Canterbury and wartime destruction and reconstruction in the city; it culminates in a stirring challenge to build a Christian social order with equal educational opportunities for all, good housing and rights for workers to organise in trades unions. The film is available online ( ).

Dermot O’Callaghan Hillsborough Co. Down

online ed – The video embedded here …

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