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Church of Ireland Notes from ‘The Irish Times’

New History

One of the more remarkable developments in the Church of Ireland in recent decades has been in the writing of its history. For long this seemed to be static, informed largely by Richard Mant’s 19th century history, the iconic three volume work edited by Alison Phillips in the 1930s and the more popular one volume history of Johnston, Robinson and Wyse Jackson which was published by the APCK in 1953.

However things began to change in the late 1960s. Thus was in part due to the ecumenical effects of Vatican II which allowed curious Catholics to view the Church of Ireland in a more sympathetic light, while the subsequent establishment of a Church of Ireland Historical Society provided a much needed focus and encouragement for serious historical research.

A singular contribution to this new historical landscape has been made by the historian and educationalist, Dr Kenneth Milne, who is the Historiographer of the Church of Ireland.  Among his more significant publications have been his history of the Charter Schools, a product of sustained research and careful scholarship; his editions, with Aine Hyland, of Irish educational documents which have made valuable sources materials readily available; and his important contributions to the histories of both Christ Church and St Patrick’s cathedral.

However, it may be that his most telling contribution has been his A Short History of the Church of Ireland  which has provided a narrative at once easily accessible and yet carefully nuanced. First published by APCK in 1966 it has been constantly on reading lists in schools and colleges and of inestimable value to those seeking to introduce the Church of Ireland to a new audience. A new edition, the fifth, has just been published. The text has been revised, the bibliography updated, the illustrations refreshed, and the story has been brought up to the late 1990s. In a fitting ecumenical flourish it has been published by Messenger Publications at  €12.95 – details at www.messenger.ie

Each year Sea Sunday is celebrated, worldwide, on the second Sunday of July. This year Sea Sunday will be celebrated tomorrow (Sunday). Churches worldwide are asked to remember seafarers and their families and those who give of their time in seafarers centres around the world. We depend and take for granted in this island country how much we need seafarers for all we buy in supermarkets and stores. Seafarers are often separated from their families and loved ones for very long periods of time. This has been particularly so during the time of the pandemic. The Dublin Port Chaplain is the Revd Willie Black. The Revd Colin Hall–Thompson has retired from his position as Belfast Chaplain and a successor has yet to be appointed.

In the series of lunchtime concerts in St Mary’s cathedral, Limerick, on Tuesday at 1.15pm there will be a recital by Duo Campisi, a piano duo from Italy.

On Friday, at 1.10pm Summer Music in Sandford continues on Sandford parish church, Ranelagh, where organist, Rónán Murray, will play music by Bach, Whitlock and Vierne, and an improvisation on a submitted theme.

Eco–Congregation Ireland’s latest newsletter is now available, highlighting examples of environmental projects undertaken by churches across the island of Ireland. This features an ecumenical service on climate justice in Tullamore and the hosting of the Climate Justice Candle in Cloughjordan parish, the transformation of Whitechurch parish’s church grounds for pollinators and biodiversity, the sharing of sunflower seeds and similar biodiversity projects in Carrigaline Union.

Church of Ireland Notes

Published in the Saturday edition of The Irish Times

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