COI Gazette – 8th May 2015

First ecumenical canons installed, reordering completed on historic night in Down Cathedral

Bishop Harold Miller shows the new Holy Table in Down Cathedral to (from left) Brother Eric Loisel, Canon Mark Harvey and Canon John Alderdice. (Photo: Annette McGrath)

Bishop Harold Miller shows the new Holy Table in Down Cathedral to (from left) Brother Eric Loisel, Canon Mark Harvey and Canon John Alderdice. (Photo: Annette McGrath)

The evening of Thursday 23rd April marked an historic occasion in the history of Down Cathedral, with the completion of the building’s reordering and redecoration project and the installation of three new canons, including the cathedral’s first- ever two ecumenical canons.


The Dean of Down, the Very Revd Henry Hull, installed the Revd Mark Harvey as Prebendary of Dunsford and Brother Eric Loisel (Order of St Benedict) from the Holy Cross Monastery, Rostrevor, Co. Down, and the Revd John Alderdice, Director of Ministry at the Methodist Church’s Edgehill Theological College, Belfast, as ecumenical canons.


The Nepal Earthquake

The Revd Lewis Lew, of the Church of the Province of South East Asia, has spoken about the loss of life, injury and devastation following the 25th April earthquake that struck some 50 miles from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal; he has also spoken about the great difficulties in terms of communication in the area and of concern for local church communities (reports, pages 9 and 12). Rachel Carnegie, Co-Executive Director of the Anglican Alliance, has said that the Alliance has been ready to give support, while the Bishop of Singapore, the Rt Revd Rennis Ponniah, has activated a crisis relief team, and aid organisations across the world, including Christian Aid and Tearfund, have responded swiftly.

Ram Kishan, Christian Aid’s Regional Emergency Manager for South Asia, said last week: “Our local partners responded immediately and continue to work tirelessly in challenging conditions. The situation remains critical in rural areas near the epicentre. Some 90% of the people have lost their homes and livestock and have no way of getting food. It’s an anxious and uncertain time for so many people. Christian Aid’s immediate concern is to ensure communities have shelter and fresh water.”

In fact, the UN has indicated that, as a result of the earthquake, over eight million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and the organization’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has reported many people as sleeping out in the  open or in makeshift tents.

Explaining the range of religious sites that were lost or damaged in the earthquake, Religion News Service’s Kimberly Winston reported that in just one minute, a millennium of religious history had suffered damage and destruction. She wrote:“About 80 per cent of Nepalese are Hindu, making it the second-largest Hindu nation outside of India, with about two per cent of the global total. But the small, mountainous country is also the birthplace of the Buddha and home to Muslims and Christians too.” Ms Winston reported that Irina Bokova, Director- General of UNESCO, said there had been “extensive and irreversible damage” at many religious World Heritage Sites.

The scale of the disaster has been shocking and, despite all the logistical difficulties, many governments across the world and different non- governmental organizations have responded. There is a massive need in a situation of much suffering and distress. In such circumstances, individuals who are at a considerable remove from the area may well feel helpless – but that is not the case. We can pray for the bereaved, the injured, the displaced and those whose livelihoods have been affected and, in so many cases, actually lost, and we can contribute financially to the aid appeals. Also, the Churches are well placed to lobby for the most effective governmental response. Compassion requires, as always, both prayer and action.


Home News

  • Appeals launched for 1932 St Patrick pageant costumes
  • New Mayor of Derry and Strabane Council pays visit to Bishop Good
  • Day of Prayer for renewal and revival
  • Bishop Burrows completes ‘stations of the stations’
  • Bishop Miller statement on parish controversy
  • Connor training event to equip children’s ministry leaders
  • Belfast mission outreach team undertakes busy programme in Bolivia
  • Joint Dublin and Glendalough/Archdiocese of Dublin Ecumenical Bible Week



Musings – Alison Rooke – The cross in the box

Insight – American View: Why the Armenian genocide holds a lesson for Jews By Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin

Feature –  Who made God? – Creating spaces to explore the big questions with children By Lydia Monds


World News

  • Russian bureaucracy problems for religious communities in Crimea
  • Effects of earthquake ‘devastating’, reports Anglican Deanery of Nepal
  • When Pope Francis tweets, the world listens


Letters to the Editor

The Church’s teaching on marriage

WE WRITE on behalf of four groups within the Church of Ireland to express our regret and concern on recent pronouncements by the Bishops of Cork and Cashel on the same-sex marriage referendum.

We refer to the recent speech of the Bishop of Cashel at an event on Marriage Equality, the tone of which did not bear witness to the stated will of the Church to “love our neighbour, and (oppose) all unbiblical and uncharitable actions and attitudes in respect of human sexuality from whatever perspective, including bigotry, hurtful words or actions, and demeaning or damaging language” (General Synod 2012).

Those who disagree with same- sex marriage were presented in a pejorative, negative and demeaning manner, being variously portrayed as holding indefensible views, being opposed to human rights, unintelligent, un-Anglican, likely to be oppressive, racist, sexist, homophobic, and, by extension, evil.

Such labels demean, and such caricatures contribute to creating a culture that silences opinion, and help to create the environment in which any viewpoint against same-sex marriage within either Church or State may be bullied into submission.

The teaching of the Church on marriage is based on a wide range of arguments – biblical, theological, moral, cultural and ethical. Indeed, it is consistent with the majority Anglican moral thinking across the globe and the witness of the wider Christian Church in both this and every other age.

In this vein, we deeply regret the portrayal of the trajectory of Anglican moral theology as being in the direction of change, and the great disservice done to the 2004 BCP Marriage Liturgy to promote this view.

Further, we simply cannot agree that the will of General Synod in 2012 is open to interpretation. A great strength of Anglicanism is that its unity is synodical, liturgical and episcopal. To disrespect the will of Synod, and wilfully misrepresent the meaning of the Marriage Liturgy, to promote a contrary view, is not befitting of the role of bishop and is indicative of the sort of moral and theological inconsistency that is destructive for the ongoing debate within the Church and within society.

Within a secular democracy, Christian people can, and should, have the confidence to speak for the Christian view on marriage as being for the common good of all, without fear of negative stereotype, pejorative label, or the accusation that they are acting without Christian charity or grace.

We commend the Christian view of marriage for the good of the Irish people in the upcoming referendum.

The full response to the most recent pronouncements of both bishops may be found online (,,,

Joanne Megarrell, Church of Ireland Evangelical Fellowship

David McClay, New Wine Ireland

Tim Anderson, Reform Ireland

William Press, Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy

AS FAITHFUL members of the Church of Ireland, we wish to reaffirm the historical, orthodox teaching of the Church concerning marriage and to refute the erroneous teaching espoused in recent days by some senior clergy within our denomination on this issue. The teaching of Holy Scripture is plain, simple and clear on this issue and at General Synod in 2012 the synod overwhelmingly affirmed this teaching by resolving:

“The Church of Ireland affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching that marriage is in its purpose a union permanent and lifelong, for better or worse, till death do them part, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side, for the procreation and nurture of children, for the hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affections, and for the mutual society, help and comfort which the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.”

The resolution further states: “The Church of Ireland recognises for itself and of itself, no other understanding of marriage than that provided for in the totality of Canon 31. The Church of Ireland teaches therefore that faithfulness within marriage is the only normative context for sexual intercourse. Members of the Church of Ireland are required by the Catechism to keep their bodies in ‘temperance, soberness and chastity’. Clergy are called in the Ordinal to be ‘wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Jesus Christ’.”

By this resolution, the General Synod declared very clearly that heterosexual marriage was and is the God-ordained sphere for sexual relationships and is alone the ‘normative’ context for such relationships.

In recent days, two Irish bishops have publicly declared and taught contrary to the plain teaching of Scripture and to the teaching of the Church of Ireland. This is despite the vows and promises made at their ordination and consecration to uphold the Church’s teaching and to refute error. We believe that they are now themselves teaching error and we call on them to repent of this and to teach what the Church has taught about marriage according to Scripture.

Alan McCann (The Revd Dr),  Tim Anderson (The Revd), Brian Blacoe (The Revd Canon), Peter Bourke (The Revd), Stanley Bourke (The Revd Canon),  Trevor Cleland (The Revd),  Donard Collins (The Revd), Craig Cooney (The Revd),  Edmond Coulter (The Revd), Colin Davis (The Revd), Alastair Donaldson (The Revd),  Paul Dundas (The Revd), William Farr (The Revd), Geoffrey Haugh (The Revd), Trevor Johnston (The Revd), Bryan Kerr (The Very Revd),  Norman Jardine (The Revd Canon),  Cameron Jones (The Revd), David Luckman (The Revd), Mark McConnell (The Revd), James McMaster (The Revd), Ken McReynolds (The Revd Canon),  Bryan Martin (The Revd), David Martin (The Revd), Gary Millar (The Revd), William Nixon (The Revd),  Alan Peek (The Revd), John Pickering (The Revd), Christopher Pierce (The Revd), William Press (The Revd),  Robert Robinson (The Revd), Brian Russell (The Revd), Roy Taylor (The Revd),  Paul Whittaker (The Revd).

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