Added on 15/03/2005
Bishop Bill Heavener died on Tuesday, 8 March 2005 in his 100th year. Ordained in 1929 he had served as Bishop of Clogher from 1973 to 1980. In a warm tribute, Archbishop Robin Eames said Bishop Heavener had been 'the voice of the Church', who had served as a faithful pastor both in the Church of Ireland and in his outreach to the wider community.
The Primates' Meeting
In reflecting on the Primates Meeting held at Dromantine Retreat and Conference Centre, 21 -25 February 2005, Archbishop Eames said 35 Primates from around the world had attended the meeting. He thanked Mrs Janet Maxwell, Head of Synod Services and Communications, and her staff for all their considerable help in organising the event and in ensuring that the arrangements went smoothly.
Archbishop Eames outlined the business of the meeting which included discussions on the Anglican Communion response to the tsunami disaster, theological education, HIV/Aids and the Windsor Report by the Lambeth Commission on Communion.
The Primate said the extent of the devastation and human suffering following the tsunami was brought home to everyone as Primates from the region gave graphic accounts of how families, communities and churches had been swept away. He said the most heartrending stories were of the hundreds of small children who had lost their entire family.
Theological education programmes were being developed in many areas. Archbishop Eames said one of the most exciting developments in recent years has been the use of electronic means to deliver theological education. This had had a particular benefit for students living in isolated areas.
The battle to beat the spread of HIV/Aids is continuing with the churches supporting health education programmes and other initiatives. The Archbishop of Capetown is leading an investigation on how to extend and develop this work.
The most pressing business facing the Primates' Meeting was consideration of the Windsor Report 2004, in which the Lambeth Commission on Communion offered its recommendations on the future life of the Anglican Communion in the light of developments in Anglican life in North America. The Report was discussed in tandem with some 320 responses submitted to the Primates' Meeting, including the Church of Ireland response.
Archbishop Eames acknowledged that the Windsor Report had not been met with universal approval but discussions at Dromantine had resulted in agreement on how to move forward. "The fact that the Primates found a formula that now allows us more time and space in which to consider more deeply the contentious issues is a bit of a miracle," said Archbishop Eames. He said the discussions had been tense and at the Anglican Consultative Council Meeting in June 2005 the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada will respectively give detailed theological explanations for their actions in relation to the appointment of a priest in a committed same sex relationship as a bishop and the authorisation of services for use in connection with same sex unions. Archbishop Eames said the communique issued by the Primates on Friday, 25 February 2005, gave a fair picture of the meeting.
In presenting the Report and Recommendations of the Priorities Fund, Mr Wilfred Young, chairman, said the Fund was 'a major success story' in the Church of Ireland. He said that over the past 25 years the Fund had distributed some eleven and half million euro. A special 25th Anniversary Priorities Fund Presentation will be made at this year's General Synod on Wednesday, 11 May 2005.
Mr Young said: "This year, the Fund received 56 applications for grants amounting to 1.1 million euro, a sum far in excess of the money available. The Priorities Fund Committee has been very impressed by the visionary nature of many of these applications and congratulates the applicants on the often challenging enterprises they have undertaken. In many instances this year, the grants recommended were small in relation to the money requested. The Committee takes the view, however, that such sums remain significant in that they often represent crucial initial seed-funding, encourage applicants by assuring them of our support and possibly also, assist them in attracting funding from other sources."
This year the Fund offered 43 grants totalling 424,860 euro.
Guidelines and Protocols for Local Covenant Partnerships (LCP) is to be submitted to the General Synod 2005 for approval. The Bishop of Down and Dromore, Rt Revd Harold Miller, said the guidelines were not laws but intended to help churches to think through how they want to go forward in a covenant relationship.
Policy on disability
The Standing Committee elected a new Church of Ireland Working Group on Disabilities. The first working group developed the Church's policy statement on accessibility to Church life and initiated a programme of work that included the development of an accessibility audit by the Property Committee and the production of liturgical other resources in a range of alternative formats by the Central Communications Board as well as parish guidelines on production of large print resources. This group will consider access to Church life, conducting a survey of needs, and will review legislation on disability in the two jurisdictions developing a programme to facilitate participation in worship and church life.
Irish Christian Handbook
The Church of Ireland is to support the production of an Irish Christian Handbook which will contain census results and statistics relating to Irish Churches. The census is expected to take place in November 2005. The handbook will be published in 2006 by Christian Research.
The Rt Revd Peter Barrett, Bishop of Cashel and Ossory, is appointed the new President of the Irish Council of Churches.
The Synodical Reform Working group appointed in 2003 is disbanded.
Revd Kevin Graham was elected as a member of the Broadcasting Committee.
Lord Maginnis of Drumglass, a member of the Church in Society Committee, was elected to become chairman of the Social Justice and Theology (NI) group.
Revd Daniel Nuzum will attend the Ninth Assembly of the World Council of Churches meeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil from 14 to 24 February 2006 in addition to Rt Revd Peter Barrett and Ms Y Naylor.
Revd Daniel Nuzum, Revd Katherine Poulton and the Venerable Patrick Rooke were elected as members of the Hard Gospel Committee.