COI Gazette – 9th September 2016

Good wishes from Church of Ireland as nine new Educate Together schools open in the Republic


Dr Ken Fennelly, Secretary of the General Synod Board of Education (Republic of Ireland), has expressed congratulations to nine new Educate Together schools – four at primary (national school) and five at secondary level – which opened last week.

The Church’s senior education official in Dublin told the Gazette: “We congratulate the local start-up groups and Boards of Management in each of the nine new Educate Together schools and wish them all the very best as they begin their individual journeys as schools serving the community in which they will live and work.”

The national schools are Broombridge ETNS, Grace Park ETNS and Riverview ETNS in Dublin and Castlebar ETNS in Co. Mayo, while the secondary schools are Bremore Educate Together Secondary School in Balbriggan, Clonturk Community College in Whitehall, Dublin (in partnership with City of Dublin ETB), Cork ETSS, North Wicklow ETSS and Stepaside ETSS.




Last month, following a meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, the Council of the Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) issued a wide-ranging communiqué in which it was indicated that the Council had welcomed the Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, “and his call for the Church in Africa to rise up to the challenges of our time by drawing on their rich cultural and spiritual heritage and set the pace for the Anglican Communion”. The full text of the Secretary-General’s address reveals an acute awareness of the many social and community challenges facing Anglicans – and no doubt others – in Africa, such as releasing resources for “enterprise solutions” to poverty, building a new generation of leaders for a country such as South Sudan, the need to protect Africa’s Churches and nations from the cruelties of militant Islam, and producing a programme of education to help tackle issues arising from tribalism.

In its communiqué, CAPA raised similar concerns; two issues in particular which it highlighted were those of human trafficking and the lack of a sustainable peace across the continent. On the former, the communiqué stated its concern that human trafficking and modern slavery were “adversely affecting the human capital of the continent and putting Africa’s people in situations that undermine their human dignity”. On the latter, it stated its same feelings that “as a continent, we are yet to achieve sustainable peace in spite of the significant changes we have witnessed in technology, business and regional integration”, adding: “We decry the numerous lives lost and futures and hopes destroyed in meaningless wars.” It is clear – and welcome – that CAPA is addressing a wide range of subjects, any one of which would raise a considerable agenda in itself, and the Anglican Churches in Africa have thus shown themselves to be enthusiastically engaged with important and really relevant issues across a considerable spectrum.

Another part of the Secretary-General’s address has not been without controversy in the wider Communion. He commenced his ‘Focus on CAPA’ section by paying a rich compliment to his fellow-Africans, referring to the continent as “incredible, diverse, beautiful and challenging”, and said that since coming into office he had “come to appreciate in a new way the important and central position that our African Anglican Churches occupy on the world stage”. He went on to assert what one might describe as theologically conservative credentials in words that pressed all the right buttons for traditionalists: “It was Bible-believing Christians who have transformed the face of Africa in the last 150 years, and we can transform it again. This is the truth. But this is in sharp contrast with how we are represented by others who do not have our best interests at heart. They present us as being 50 years behind the rest of the world. Their view of progressivism places them at the forefront of historical and social development – with us Africans bringing up the rear.

Even worse, deep down, they think that all of us, whatever our faith and commitments, have our price. They really believe that it will only be a matter of time before we fall in line with their view of the world, of culture, of marriage, of community either through conviction or, if not, then through convenience.”

It is surprising to hear the Secretary-General expressing himself so candidly and with such trenchant criticism of the liberal side of the Communion. After all, he serves all sides in his position at the head of the Anglican Communion Office. So, when Archbishop Idowu-Fearon said he had to confess that he was “deeply disturbed by some of what is happening in the Communion and its Churches today”, his explanation was all the more striking: “I have seen Anglicans who are poor and marginalised in their own societies plead for their right to maintain Anglican orthodoxy in their own Churches, only to be swept aside by a campaign to change the Churches’ teaching on marriage and so-called rights of equality. This is something I take to the Lord in prayer again and again.” One gets the impression that the Archbishop’s words in Kigali may well be quoted, and debated, for some time to come.


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