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Cashel, Ossory and Ferns Diocesan Synods presidential address

PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS

delivered by
The Rt. Rev. Peter Barrett, Bishop of Cashel, Ossory and Ferns
to
The Synods of the Dioceses
on
Wednesday 20th October 2004 in the Riverside Park Hotel, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford (Ferns)
and
Thursday 21st October 2004 in The Bru Boru Theatre, Rock of Cashel, Co. Tipperary (Cashel and Ossory)

(Web editor's note: Apologies to readers - the text was received in upper case only.)

PREFACE

BELOVED IN CHRIST,

IT IS A PRIVILEGE FOR ME TO WELCOME YOU, THE MEMBERS OF DIOCESAN SYNOD, WITH OUR ECUMENICAL GUESTS, MEMBERS OF THE PRESS AND CHURCH ORGANISATIONS, ALONGSIDE OUR VISITORS, TO THE DIOCESAN SYNOD OF 2004 :

?GRACE AND PEACE TO EACH OF YOU

IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST? .

OUR TIME TOGETHER TODAY PROVIDES US WITH THE ANNUAL OPPORTUNITY TO REFLECT AS A SYNOD, COMPRISING ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES OF PARISH AND DIOCESE, ON THE DIRECTION AND LIFE OF THE CHURCH. WE LOOK BACK OVER THE NECESSARY WORK OF THE PAST YEAR AND SEEK TO DISCERN WHERE THE HOLY SPIRIT MAY BE NUDGING US IN OUR PLANNING FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW. IT ALSO GIVES US TIME TO RELAX TOGETHER, WHILE WE LISTEN TO AND LEARN FROM ONE ANOTHER. MAY OUR TIME WELL SPENT IN THE SERVCE OF GOD THE HOLY TRINITY.

IN WELCOMING YOU THIS MORNING, I WISH TO EXPRESS OUR COLLECTIVE GRATITUDE TO OUR DIOCESAN SECRETARIES AND TREASURERS, HONOURARY SECRETARIES, LITURGICAL OFFICERS AND LOCAL CLERGY, ALONGSIDE THE MANAGEMENT AND STAFF HERE, FOR THEIR WORK IN HAVING ALL THINGS IN ORDER FOR OUR SYNOD. WE THANK TOO, THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR VARIOUS DISPLAYS AND I ENCOURAGE YOU TO SPEND SOME TIME LOOKING AT THEIR CONTENTS.

THE WORK OF THE SEE IS PARTICULARLY FOCUSSED IN THE MEETINGS OF DIOCESAN COUNCIL AND RELATED COMMITTEES WORKING ON A VARIETY OF TOPICS. THANK YOU ONE AND ALL FOR YOUR ATTENTION AND WORK FOR THE GOOD OF ALL OVER THE PAST YEAR.

IN OUR WITNESS, GROUPS AND ORGANISATIONS, AS WELL AS INDIVIDUALS, PLAY A VITAL ROLE . THANK YOU TO THE LEADERS OF OUR BB COMPANIES AND GFS BRANCHES FOR YOUR CONTRIUTION TO YOUTH WORK, NOT LEAST IN GOING THE EXTRA MILE AND HOUR WITH SPORTS GATHERINGS, WEEKENDS AND CAMPS. THANK YOU TO OUR BISHOPS? APPEAL REPRESENTATIVES, BILLY KINGSTON, CANON DENIS SANDES AND VALERIE POWER FOR BRINGING ITS VITAL WORK TO OUR ATTENTION.

WE WARMLY WELCOME MRS HAZEL SHERLOCK AS THE DIOCESAN PRESIDENT OF THE MOTHERS? UNION AND COMMEND ITS WITNESS TO THE PARISHES OF THE SEE ALONG WITH COMAC, ITS SISTER ORGANISATION WHICH HELPS WITH MARRIAGE PREPARATION. QUIETLY AND PRAYERFULLY, THE REV?D ANN WALLACE SUPPORTS ALL AS ITS CHAPLAIN. UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE MOTHERS? UNION, WE CELEBRATED THE INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF THE FAMILY IN FINE STYLE WITH THE ?KALEIDESCOPE DAY?, INSPIRATIONALLY ORGANISED BY MRS LESLEY SANDES.

NEXT MONTH, WE LOOK FORWARD TO GREETING BISHOP CHRISTINA ODENBERG FROM OUR LINK DIOCESE OF LUND, AS WE SEEK TO STRENGTHEN PERSONAL AND PARISH LINKS AT A TIME OF CLOSURE AT THE FORMAL LEVEL. THANK YOU CANON BARBARA FRYDAY FOR YOUR PERSONAL COMMITMENT TO THIS CONNECTION, NOT FORGETTING JOHN.

TO THE FAITHFUL PARISHIONERS IN OUR PARISHES I EXPRESS MY GRATITUDE FOR YOUR PRESENCE AND SUPPORT. YOUR LOCAL KNOWLEDGE AS WELL AS PRACTICAL SUPPORT ARE INVALUABLE RESOURCES FOR THE CHURCH?S WITNESS IN THE COMMUNITIES WE SEEK TO SERVE IN CHRIST?S NAME. I AM SURE THAT YOU KNOW OF THE APPRECIATION OF YOUR CLERGY.

EQUALLY, I HOPE THAT YOU LET YOUR CLERGY KNOW HOW MUCH THEIR MINISTRY IS VALUED AND TANGIBLY EXPRESS YOUR SUPPORT OF THE RECTORY FAMILY WHENEVER POSSIBLE. IT IS SO EASY TO TAKE THE RECTORY FOR GRANTED AS AN EXTENSION OF THE PARISH. IT IS FIRST AND FOREMOST A FAMILY HOME, ALL BE IT WITH AN ?OPEN DOOR POLICY?. THE ADVICE OF SAINT PAUL IS WORTH HEEDING : ?BEAR ONE ANOTHERS? BURDENS AND SO FULFILL THE LAW OF CHRIST? (Galatians 6:2). THIS PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN PRIEST AND PEOPLE IS ONE OF THE STRENGTHS OF OUR WITNESS AND WHERE IT WORKS HARMONIOUSLY, MUCH CREATIVITY AND ENERGY CAN RESULT FOR THE GOOD OF THE COMMUNITY, AS WELL AS THE PARISH.

THANKFULLY, THERE HAVE BEEN FEW CHANGES IN PERSONNEL SINCE WE LAST MET. IN FERNS, WE WELCOME CANONS BOB GRAY AND DERMOT DUNNE TO THE CHAPTER OF SAINT EDEN?S CATHEDRAL AND WARMLY CONGRATULATE ITS DEAN, LESLIE FORREST, ON THE BEAUTIFUL COMPLETION OF THE SAINT MOGUE?S COTTAGE PROJECT, OFFICIALLY OPENED BY HER EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF IRELAND, MARY MCALEESE. IT IS A LASTING TESTIMONY TO THE DEAN?S STYLE AND VISION. WE WISH THE REV?D ALAN NEVIN WELL FOLLOWING HIS MOVE TO THE DIOCESE OF KILLALOE. WE EXTEND WARMEST CONGRATULATIONS TO THE REV?D MARIA JANSSON FOLLOWING HER INSTITUTION AS INCUMBENT OF WEXFORD UNION AND PRIEST IN CHARGE OF KILSCORAN UNION. WHITE SMOKE HAS FINALLY APPEARED OVER ENNISCORTHY AND WE VERY MUCH LOOK FORWARD TO WELCOMING THE REV?D CHRIS LONG, HIS WIFE LINDA AND FAMILY FOLLOWING THE SERVICE OF INSTITUTION ON MARCH 3 RD NEXT YEAR. CANON FRANK FORBES?S RETIREMENT WAS RECEIVED WITH NO LITTLE REGRET, BUT THANKFULLY HE IS STILL MINISTERING IN THE FERNS GROUP WHERE HE IS KNOWN AND DEEPLY RESPECTED. WE REJOICE THAT THE REV?D JOHN DEACON AND CANON ARTHUR JACKSON ARE WELL ON THE MEND FOLLOWING HOSPITALISATION.

WE HAD A JOYFUL EVENING IN WATERFORD WHEN JOINED BY OUR PREACHER, BISHOP NOEL WILLOUGHBY, LYNNE ROGERS AND JENNY CROWLEY WERE ORDAINED TO THE PRIESTHOOD. WE WARMLY WELCOME THE REV?D WILLIAM RITCHIE AMONGST US AS RECTOR OF THE TULLOW GROUP AND WISH THE REV?D CLIFF JEFFERS, HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN EVERY HAPPINESS IN ATHY. WE THANK THE REV?D TONY WHITING FOR HIS PRESENCE IN THE LISMORE GROUP AND WISH HIM GOOD HEALTH IN HIS RETIREMENT IN DUNGARVAN. WE ARE DELIGHTED THAT OUR REGISTRAR HAS BEEN INSTALLED AS DEAN OF LEIGHLIN.

FOUR PRIESTS WITH LONG AND DISTINGUISHED MINISTRIES IN THE SEE, DIED IN THE PAST YEAR. WE REMEMBER WITH DEEP THANKSGIVING TO GOD, DEAN DAVID CLARKE, ARCHDEACONS HUGH GRAY AND DERMOT PATTON AND CANON FRANK SHANNON AND EXPRESS THE SYMPATHY OF SYNODTO THE MEMBERS OF THEIR FAMILIES.

I WISH TO THANK OUR CLERGY, STIPENDIARY AND NON-STIPENDIARY, FOR THEIR FAITHFULNESS AND THEIR SPOUSES AND CHILDREN FOR THEIR SUPPORT AND PATIENT UNDERSTANDING. IT IS MY PRIVILEGE TO BE YOUR BISHOP. I COUPLE THIS APPRECIATION BY EXTENSION TO OUR RETIRED CLERGY ?UPON WHOSE CONSTANT MINISTRATIONS WE RELY FOR HELP?. PLEASE KNOW THAT YOU ARE PART AND PARCEL OF THE CLERGY TEAM, AT WHOSE`HEART ARE FOUND OUR TWO ARCHDEACONS. THANK YOU JOHN AND PAUL FOR YOUR ADVICE, PERSONAL SUPPORT AND EXTRA HOUR MINISTRIES FOR THE WELL BEING OF THE CHURCH IN THESE PARTS.

WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF FAITHFULNESS, OUR GREATEST RESOURCE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT, IS OURSELVES; ONE ANOTHER. PLEASE, LET US AFFIRM ALL THAT IS GOOD AND GODLY IN OUR WITNESS. WHERE A WORD IN SEASON IS NECESSARY, PLEASE SHARE IT IN CHARITY AND IN GENTLENESS.

RECENTLY, I HAD THE PLEASURE OF OFFICIATING AT THE TRIENNIAL RECOMMISSIONING SERVICE OF OUR DIOCESAN AND PAROCHIAL READERS IN SAINT CANICE?S CATHEDRAL. WE TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO WISH DEAN LYNAS AND HIS PEOPLE WELL FOLLOWING THE EXTENSIVE RENOVATIONS CAUSED BY THE INSTALLATION OF A NEW HEATING SYSTEM AND THANK HIM FOR HAVING THE CATHEDRAL OPEN FOR THIS HAPPY OCCASION. THANK YOU GOES TO OUR REGISTRAR, DEAN WYNNE, FOR ALL HIS WORK WITH THE NECESSARY LEGALITIES OF THE OCCASION; TO THE O?MORCHOE, FOR HIS WORK AS SECRETAY OF THE GUILD OF READERS AND OF COURSE, TO ITS WARDEN, CANON MCCULLAGH, FOR HIS GUIDANCE AND HELP THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. READERS, YOUR MINISTRY IS VERY IMPORTANT TO OUR LIFE IN CHRIST IN THE SEE AND I WISH TO THANK YOU FOR YOUR DEVOTION TO DUTY. WE THANK PAM EASTWOOD FOR HER YEARS OF SERVICE FOLLOWING HER RETIREMNT THIS YEAR AND WE CONTINUE TO REMEMBER OUR DIOCESAN READERS, KEN ROTHWELL, SAM DEACON AND JILL EDWARDS IN OUR PRAYER.

THE READERS HAVE ?FRONTED? THE INTRODUCTION OF THE NEW BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER IN MANY INSTANCES AND MOST FRUITFULLY. IT IS NO SMALL CREDIT TO YOU AND ESPECIALLY TO OUR TWO DIOCESAN LITURGICAL OFFICERS, CANON DERMOT DUNNE AND THE REV?D ROY BYRNE, THAT ITS ARRIVAL HAS BEENSEAMLESS THROUGHOUT THE SEE. I WISH TO COMMEND THE MINISTRY OF READERS TO THE APPRECIATION AND PRAYERFUL SUPPORT OF OUR PARISHES AND AVAIL OF THIS OPPORTUNITY TO ELUCIDATE HOW A READER AND A CANDIDATE CONSIDERING HOLY ORDERS IS SELECTED IN THE SEE.

A PARISH READER IS NOMINATED FOR TRAINING TO THE WARDEN OF THE GUILD OF READERS BY THEIR INCUMBENT AND ON SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF A YEAR LONG COURSE IS GRANTED ?A LETTER OF PERMISSION TO ASSIST? BY ME.

A DIOCESAN READER MUST FIRST QUALIFY AS A PARISH READER AND DO A FURTHER YEAR OF STUDY BEFORE PASSING AN INTERVIEW AND BE GRANTED ?THE BISHOP?S LICENCE?.

CANDIDATES FOR HOLY ORDERS MUST HAVE EXPERIENCE AS A DIOCESAN OR PARISH READER; BE UNDER THE GUIDANCE OF THE DIOCESAN DIRECTOR OF ORDINAND?S, DEAN LESLIE FORREST, FOR ONE YEAR (USUALLY IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE GUILD OF VOCATION IN DUBLIN AND GLENDALOUGH) AND BE APPROVED BY AN INTERVIEW PANEL HERE, BEFORE PROCEEDING TO THE CENTRAL SELECTION CONFERENCE IN DUBLIN.

IT IS ANTICIAPTED THAT THE COURSE OF STUDY FOR ALL READERS WILL BE INTEGRATED WITH ?THE BISHOP?S CERTIFICATE IN THEOLOGY COURSE?, FROM NEXT YEAR. THIS COURSE IS INTENDED TO BE OF HELP AND INTEREST TO ALL PARISHIONERS AND OTHERS WHO ARE SEEKING TO DEEPEN THEIR UNDERSTANDING OF THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH AND THE LIFE OF FAITH FROM AN ANGLICAN PERSPECTIVE. IT IS HOPED THAT THE COURSE WILL COMMENCE NEXT AUTUMN, WITH A ?TASTER? BEING PROVIDED FOR ALL INTERESTED PARISHES AS A LENTEN COURSE THIS SPRING.

WE THANK DEAN NORMAN LYNAS FOR HIS WORK AS DIRECTOR OF ?THE CONTINUING EDUCATION IN MINISTRY? COURSE FOR CURATES AND FIRST TIME INCUMBENTS AND WELCOME DEAN WYNNE AS HIS SUCCESSOR. WE ARE DELIGHTED THAT OUR THREE CANDIDATES FOR HOLY ORDERS FROM THE SEE SEEKING TO SERVE IN THE AUXILIARY MINISTRY, MARGARET STEPHENS, RICHARD GREENE AND ROBERT STOTESBURY AND OUR ONE STIPENDIARY CANDIDATE , WILLIAM STACEY, ARE PROGRESSING SO WELL WITH THEIR STUDIES TOWARDS ORDINATION IN 2006.

ON THE BROADER EDUCATIONAL FRONT, I WISH TO THANK THE BOARDS OF EDUCATION IN THE SEE AND MY PATRON?S ADVISORY COMMITTEE FOR THEIR ASSISTANCE IN MANY MATTERS PERTAINING TO THE WELL BEING OF EDUCATION AT THE PRIMARY LEVEL. I AM DELIGHTED TO SEE THAT ALL SUCH BOARDS ARE PROVIDING A SCHOLARSHIP TO AN IRISH SUMMER SCHOOL THIS YEAR, THUS ENABLING A SECONDARY STUDENT INTERESTED IN PURSUING A CAREER IN PRIMARY TEACHING WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO IMPROVE THEIR IRISH, WHICH IS, OF COURSE, A NECESSARY REQUIREMENT AT HONOURS LEVEL. THANK YOU DEAN BEARE AND THE REV?D ARTHUR CARTER FOR FACILITATING THIS FOR US. I EXPRESS MY GRATITUDE TO OUR PRINCIPALS, TEACHERS, STAFF AND MEMBERS OF THE BOARDS OF MANAGEMENT FOR ALL THEY ARE DOING FOR OUR CHILDREN, OFTEN IN TRYING CIRCUMSTANCES OF INCREASING DEMANDS AND DECREASING RESOURCE PROVISION. KILENNY COLLEGE HAS ONCE AGAIN PRODUCED VERY FINE JUNIOR AND LEAVING CERTIFICATE RESULTS AND I CONGRATULATE ITS HEADMASTER AND STAFF, NOT ONLY FOR THIS, BUT ALSO FOR THE BREADTH OF SUBJECTS AND INTERESTS CATERED FOR THROUGHOUT THE SCHOOL. I WARMLY COMMEND THE PRESENT FUNDRAISING INITIATIVE TO THE PEOPLE OF THE SEE AND AM VERY GRATIFIED TO NOTE THAT ITS CHAPEL BUILDING PROJECT HAS RECEIVED THE FINANCIAL SUPPORT OF BOTH COUNCILS.

THE THEME OF MY ADDRESS LAST YEAR WAS ?LISTENING?; THIS YEAR IT IS ?RESOURCING?. TO A LARGE EXTENT, THE FOCUS WILL BE LOOKING AT OURSELVES FROM ?THE INSIDE ?OUT? AS IT WERE. HOPEFULLY, IT WILL NOT BE INWARD LOOKING, FOR MY INTENTION IS TO EXAMINE ASPECTS OF OUR LIFE TOGETHER IN THE SEE IN ORDER THAT THEY MAY BE BETTER REOURCED FOR THE BENEFIT OF US ALL; FOR THE COMMON GOOD. IN SO DOING, FREEING US UP TO MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE IN OUR WITNESS TO THE TRANSFORMING POWER OF THE GOSPEL IN SERVICE OF OTHERS FOR THE SAKE OF THE KINGDOM.

I WISH TO REFLECT UPON RESOURCING AT THREE LEVELS : THE CENTRE; THE LOCAL AND FROM OUTSIDE. BUT BEFORE DOING SO, I WANT TO REMIND YOU OF SOMETHING I SAID LAST YEAR WHICH IS, IN A WAY, THE MOTTO OF MY EPISCOPATE. I BORROW FROM SAINT AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO WHO ONCE SAID OF HIMSELF :

?FOR YOU I AM A BISHOP; WITH YOU I AM A CHRISTIAN? .

WHAT I NOW COMMENT UPON MUST BE SET IN THIS CONTEXT.

RESOURCING THE CENTRE

WHATEVER WAY YOU LOOK AT THE GEOGRAPHY OF THIS SEE OF CASHEL & OSSORY, COMPRISING AS IT DOES SIX ANCIENT DIOCESES, IT IS CERTAINLY LARGE. IT COVERS 4,000 SQUARE MILES AND INCLUDES LARGE PARTS OF A FEW AS WELL AS THE TOTALITY OF MOST OF 7 COUNTIES OF THE ?SOUTH EAST? ? WICKLOW, WEXFORD, CARLOW, KILKENNY, LAOIS, WATERFORD, TIPPERARY. WE ALSO PLAY ?NIP AND TUCK? WITH OFFALY, LIMERICK AND I THINK, CORK.

THERE ARE 33 PARISH GROUPINGS THROUGHOUT THE SIX DIOCESES WITH 144 CHURCHES, PLUS SCHOOLS, HOSPITALS, INSTITUTIONS AND OTHER PASTORAL EXPRESSIONS OF THE COMMUNITY, AS WELL AS THE PAROCHIAL LIFE OF THE SEE, THE MOST IMPORTANT OF WHICH ARE YOU, CLERGY AND PARISHIONER ALIKE. THE ANNUAL COMBINED BUDGET OF BOTH COUNCILS FOR OUR MINISTRY AND MISSION IS APROACHING 2 MILLION EUROS.

ONE OF THE TRADITIONAL REQUIREMENTS OF EFFECTIVE EPISCOPACY IS THAT THE BISHOP IS A GOOD ADMINISTRATOR. CERTAINLY, TO BE A GOOD ADMINISTRATOR REQUIRES CERTAIN PERSONAL SKILLS. BUT IT ALSO REQUIRES ADEQUATE ?BACK-UP? AND RESOURCING. I WISH TO PAY PARTICULAR TRIBUTE TO OUR DIOCESAN SECRETARIES AND TREASURERS, DENISE HUGHES, JOAN DEACON AND LESLEY MOYNAN. THEY ARE VERY CLOSE TO THE HEART OF ALL THAT EFFECTIVELY HAPPENS CENTRALLY. THEY ARE REPOSITORIES OF HELPFULNESS, KINDNESS , PATIENCE AND NO LITTLE COMMON SENSE AND WE ARE INDEBTED TO THEM, PERSONALLY AND COLLECTIVELY.

AS YOU MAY KNOW, THIS IS JOAN?S LAST DIOCESAN SYNOD IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SECRETARY AND TREASURER OF FERNS, FOLLOWING HER WISH TO RETIRE AT THE END OF MARCH NEXT YEAR. THERE WILL BE AN OPPORTUNITY AT A LATER DATE TO EXPRESS OUR GRATITUDE FOR HER WORK AND INVOLVEMENT WITH THE DIOCESE OF FERNS, WHICH BEGAN INDEED IN THE LATE 1940?S. BUT I WISH TO NOT ONLY SAY ?THANK YOU? TO HER TODAY, BUT ALSO EXPRESS MY PERSONAL APPRECIATION OF HER WILLINGNESS TO REMAIN IN AN ADVISORY CAPACITY FOLLOWING HER RETIREMENT. THANK YOU FOR THIS TOO, JOAN.

JOAN?S RETIREMENT HAS`RAISED THE ISSUE OF OUR PRESENT AND ESPECIALLY FUTURE ADMINISTRATIVE NEEDS. IN SHORT, HOW ARE WE TO BEST RESOURCE THE SECRETARIAT CENTRALLY, WITH MODES OF COMMUNICATION AND ADMINISTRATION, IN KEEPING WITH BEST CONTEMPORARY PRACTICE?

SUPPORTED BY BOTH COUNCILS, A SUB-COMMITTEE CONVENED BY THE O?MORCHOE, IS MEETING TO DISCUSS OUR NEEDS AND TO MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS TO ME BEFORE THE END OF NEXT MONTH. IT IS MY HOPE THAT ALL ASPECTS OF ADMINISTRATION WILL BE REFLECTED UPON, INCLUDING FACILITIES WHICH ARE IN KEEPING WITH DISABLED AND HEALTH AND SAFETY LEGISLATION.

I AM GRATEFUL FOR THE SUPPORT OF BOTH COUNCILS TO ?HASTEN ON? WITH PRODUCING A ?DRAFT SET OF RULES FOR THE HARMONISATION OF PROCEDURE AND REGULATIONS? FOR OCCASIONS SUCH AS THIS AND THEY ARE BEFORE US TODAY FOR APPROVAL. THIS IS PART OF THE PROCESS OF ADEQUATELY RESOURCING THE CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION. I AM MOST GRATEFUL TO THE O?MORCHOE ONCE AGAIN AND TO MR PETER CLIFTON-BROWN (AND TO CANON J.L.B. DEANE OF CORK) FOR THEIR ATTENTION TO THIS MATTER.

ACCORDING TO OUR RULES, IT IS THE PREROGATIVE OF THE BISHOP TO CALL THE MEETING OF THE DIOCESAN SYNOD ANNUALLY. SYNOD MEANS ?TOGETHER ON THE WAY?.

HOWEVER, I FIND IT DIFFICULT TO RELATE THIS CONCEPT TO THE PRESENT PATTERN OF HAVING TWO SYNODS MEETING IN TWO SEPARATE VENUES ON TWO CONSECUTIVE DAYS TO DISCUSS MUCH THAT IS FAMILIAR AND INDEED HELD IN COMMON. IT IS MY HOPE THAT FROM NEXT YEAR, NEXT JUNE IN FACT, WE SHALL MEET CONJOINTLY AS DIOCESAN SYNODS.

THAT IS, WE SHALL MEET TOGETHER AS MEMBERS OF THE ONE BODY OF CHRIST IN ONE SEE FAMILY TO TRANSACT OUR BUSINESS AND TO FULFILL OUR CONSTITUTIONAL OBLIGATIONS. IF BUSINESS ARISES WHICH IS PERTINENT TO ONE COUNCIL RATHER THAN ANOTHER, MEMBERS ARE FREE TO HEAD FOR TEA AND A CHAT, AS HAPPENS FOR EXAMPLE, AT GENERAL SYNOD. FURTHER, WOUDN?T IT BE HELPFUL IF WE MET IN LATE AFTERNOON AND FINSIHED IN THE EVENING, RATHER THAN TAKE UP A WHOLE MORNING AND AFTERNOON, WHICH FOR MANY IS PART OF A WORKING DAY?

THERE IS HOWEVER ONE ASSURANCE WHICH I WISH TO MAKE IN CONJUNCTION WITH THIS PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT, WHICH IS THAT I HAVE NO INTENTION OF REQUESTING A CHANGE IN THE STRUCTURE OF OUR COUNCILS. I AM HAPPY THAT THE CASHEL AND FERNS COUNCILS REMAIN AS THEY ARE. IN SHORT, THAT FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE, WE RETAIN BOTH THE FERNS AND THE CASHEL COUNCILS. BUT I HOPE TO STRENGTHEN THIS ?SPIRIT OF TOGETHERNESS? BY FORMING ?SEE WORKING GROUPS? WHICH WOULD REPORT TO BOTH COUNCILS AND TO SYNOD ON SUCH AREAS AS ?MINISTRY AND PARISH DEVELOPMENT?; ?UNITY AND INTER-FAITH AFFAIRS; EVANGELISM AND MISSION?; ?HEALING AND PASTORAL CARE?.

ANOTHER WELCOME ASPECT OF RESOURCING THE CENTRE IS THE AGREEMENT OF COUNCILS TO THE PROVISION OF PC?S FOR EACH RECTORY AND CURATAGE. AS A RESULT, I HAVE ASKED EACH PRIEST TO INFORM DENISE HUGHES OF THEIR EMAIL ADDRESS BY NEW YEAR, SO THAT INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS CAN BE GREATLY FACILITATED BY EMAIL CONTACT. CLERGY WILL BE PROVIDED WITH TRAINING WHERE REQUIRED AND I WOULD ASK EACH CLERIC TO PLEASE CONTACT THE REV?D MIKE GRAHAM, CO-ORDINATOR OF THE CHURCH OF IRELAND INTERNET COMMITTEE, WHO IS READY TO PROVIDE YOU WITH YOUR OFFICIAL CHURCH OF IRELAND EMAIL ADDRESS. WE KNOW OF THE GOOD WORK OF THE REV?D PHILIP HEAK AS YOUTH OFFICER AND WE SINCERELY THANK HIM FOR IT AS WELL AS ANTICIPATE NEW DEVELOPMENTS UNDER HIS GUIDANCE IN FERNS. SOME MAY NOT REALISE THAT HE IS IN CHARGE OF OUR TINY PORTION OF CYBER SPACE AS OUR WEB SITE MANAGER. THANK YOU FOR YOUR WORK IN BOTH AREAS AND I KNOW FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, THAT HE IS WILLING TO PROVIDE PRACTICAL ADVICE AND ASSISTANCE IN THESE INTERNET AREAS FOR OUR PARISHES.

HOW WE COMMUNICATE THE ?GOOD NEWS OF THE GOSPEL? AND HOW IT IS PRESENTED IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF SUCH WITNESS TO PARISHIONER AND ENQUIRER ALIKE. AN APPROPRIATELY RESOURCED CENTRAL SECRETARIAT IN EASY AND READY TOUCH WITH THE NEEDS OF THE PARISHES FOR THE GOOD OF THE WHOLE SEE IS A VITAL PART OF RESOURCING THE CENTRE AND INDEED THE EPISCOPATE.

RESOURCING THE LOCAL

I TURN NOW TO THE LOCAL: TO THE LIFE OF THE PARISH AND ITS MINISTRY AND MISSION. I AM CONSTANTLY ENCOURAGED BY THE DEPTH OF PASTORAL CARE THAT IS PROVIDED BY OUR CLERGY 24/7, NEVER MIND THE REGULAR ROUND OF SUNDAY SERVICES AND COMMUNITY LITURGIES. SUCH IS SET WITHIN THE EVER INCREASING BURDEN OF PAROCHIAL ADMINISTRATION SYMBOLISED BY THE REGULAR PILE OF FORMS AND QUESTIONNAIRES WHCH LAND ON THE DESK, NOT FORGETTING THE DAILY DEMANDS OF ?E AND SNAIL MAIL?. FURTHER, THE REQUIREMENTS OF ASSESSMENT AND INSURANCE, ABOUT WHICH ALL OF US ARE ONLY TOO FAMILIAR, ADD TO THE WEIGHT OF RESPONSIBILITY.

OF EQUAL, IF NOT GREATER CONCERN AT PARISH LEVEL, ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE HERITAGE LEGISLATION AND RELEVANT CONSERVATION REGULATIONS FOR OUR WITNESS, ABOUT WHICH I WISH TO MAKE THREE BRIEF COMMENTS. FIRST, CONGRATULATIONS TO THE MEMBERS OF OUR PARISHES FOR THE EFFORT THAT IS MADE TO KEEP OUR CHURCHES LOOKING SO WELL, OFTEN IN DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES.

SECONDLY, I JOIN SUCH GRATITUDE WITH GENUINE APPRECIATION OF THE SUPPORT FROM OUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS IN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC COMMUNITY WHICH IS IN MANY CASES, REMARKABLE.

THIRDLY, IT IS UNDOUBTEDLY RIGHT AND PROPER THAT THE GOVERNMENT AND LOCAL COUNCILS, THROUGH THEIR HERITAGE OFFICERS, APPLY THE NECESSARY REGULATIONS TO THE ISLAND?S ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE FOR THE COMMON GOOD. EQUALLY, THE CHURCH OF IRELAND, WHICH HAS BEEN THE NATIONAL CUSTODIAN AND STEWARD OF MUCH OF THE BEST OF OUR ECCELSIATICAL HERITAGE, ?FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE?, ACCEPTS ITS OBLIGATIONS IN THIS SPHERE. INCIDENTALLY, I HAPPEN TO BELIEVE THAT OUR EXERCISE OF SUCH STEWARDSHIP HAS BEEN IN THE MAIN, ESPECIALLY IN THE RECENT PAST, ?FOR BETTER, RATHER THAN FOR WORSE? AND OFTEN IN VERY STRAITENED LOCAL CIRCUMSTANCES.

HOWEVER, IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING THAT IT IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO POINT OUT OUR RESPONSIBILITIES WITHOUT GIVING US CONSISTENT AND REGULAR FUNDING TO ACHIVE ITS LAUDABLE AIM OF PRESERVING AND SAFEGUARDING SUCH HERITAGE. I CAN THINK OF SEVERAL EXAMPLES IN THIS SEE, WHICH IS OF COURSE PARTICULARLY WELL ENDOWED WITH BUILDINGS AND INDEED STAINED GLASS OF NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL IMPORTANCE, NOT LEAST ITS SIX CATHEDRALS . TAKE LISMORE CATHEDRAL FOR EXAMPLE, WHICH WITH A SMALL NUMBER OF PARISHIONERS IS FACING THE HUGE CHALLENGE OF RESTORATION WITHOUT ANY GOVERNMENT COMMITMENT TO DATE .

IN THESE AND SIMILAR CONTEXTS, CLERGY AND PARISHIONERS ARE FACED WITH DAUNTING STRUGGLES TO SO COMPLY, BUT WITHOUT THE CONCERTED NATIONAL POLICY AVAILABLE ELSEWHERE IN EUROPE. FURTHER, ENERGY AND FINANCES WHICH COULD BE BETTER APPLIED TO MINISTRY AND MISSION ARE BEING DIVERTED TO MATTERS OF MAINTENANCE AND ARE, AS A RESULT, SAPPING DRY PAROCHIAL MORALE.

WE ARE OF COURSE GRATEFUL FOR CENTRAL ASSISTANCE; NOT LEAST FOR THE GOVERNEMENT?S INVOLVEMENT IN THE CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL PROJECT IN WATERFORD. BUT TO BE BLUNT, IT IS OFTEN MORE ?THE CRUMBS WHICH FALL FROM THE MASTER?S TABLE?, RATHER THAN THE FULL LOAF WE SO BADLY NEED, WHICH WE RECEIVE. PRETTY PICTURES OF OUR OUTSTANDING BUILDINGS FOR THE BENFIT OF TOURIST BROCHURES NEED TO BE ?BUTTRESSED? BY A NATIONAL POLICY OF ENGAGEMENT AND FISCAL PARTNERSHIPWITH THE DAILY REALITY OF THE STRUGGLE OF UPKEEP AT THE PARISH LEVEL. NO ONE PRESENT WANTS TO TURN THEIR PAROCHIAL BACK ON, OR TO WALK AWAY FROM, SUCH A CONSECRATED HERITAGE. BUT IF SUCH A PARTNERSHIP IS NOT FORTHCOMING, THE DAY IS NOT TOO FAR AWAY, WHEN IN SOME INSTANCES, IT WILL BECOME A SAD BUT NECESSARY REALITY.

ON A POSITIVE NOTE, I WISH TO THANK THE SECRETARIES AND MEMBERS OF OUR VARIOUS DIOCESAN GLEBE COMMITTEES, OUR RURAL DEANS AND OUR CASHEL PROPERTY COMMITTEE FOR ALL THEY DO TO ASSIST PARISHES IN THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES TO PROPERTY ISSUES.

STAYING WITH THE LOCAL, I WISH TO FOCUS UPON PARISH DEVELOPMENT. LAST YEAR, YOU WILL RECALL THAT I SENT A QUESTIONNAIRE TO EACH SELECT VESTRY BASED UPON THE VISION 20/20 REPORT. SUBSEQUENTLY, I MET WITH PARISH REPRESENTATIVES AT LARGE GATHERINGS OF EACH RURAL DEANERY TO RECEIVE THEIR ANSWERS PERSONALLY. I THEN COLLATED THESE REPLIES AND GATHERED THE MEMBERS OF BOTH COUNCILS TOGETHER IN KILKENNY AND SHARED MY RESPONSE TO WHAT I HAD HEARD. LATER, THESE WERE PUBLISHED IN THE DIOCESAN MAGAZINE, WHICH GOES FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH UNDER MR HERBIE SHARMANS EDITORSHI, ABLY ASSISTED BY DENISE HUGHES IN ANOTHER CAPACITY OF DIOCESAN INFORMATION OFFICER.

IT WAS A WORTH WHILE EXERCISE AND REINFORCED MY HUNCH THAT WITH COOPERATION AND GOODWILL, THE RURAL DEANERY IS THE UNIT FOR MINISTRY AND MISSION THROUGHOUT THE SEE. IN SHORT, ALL BENEFITTING FROM ONE ANOTHER?S COLLECTIVE GIFTS. HASTEN ON HERE PLEASE`RURAL DEANS, CLERGY AND PEOPLE. COULD NOT CONFIRMATION CLASSES; BIBLE STUDY AND PRAYER GROUPS MEET IN SUCH A CONTEXT, WHERE NUMBERS ARE LOW. INDEED, WHAT ABOUT THE DEVELOPMENT OF RURAL DEANERY CONFIRMATION SERVICES LINKED INTO SIMILAR YOUTH SERVICES?

WHAT I GLEANED FROM THE REPLIES WAS PREDICTABLE ENOUGH : NO REDUCTION OF SELECT VESTRIES OR CHURCHES; THE ABSENCE OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH; SUPPORT FOR A CHILDREN?S MINISTRY OFFICER AND CENTRAL ADMINISTRATOR. IT WAS WELL SUMMED UP IN ONE COMMENT ? ?BRICKS ARE A BURDEN AND PEOPLE ARE AN ASSET?. NOW THAT THE WORK OF THE 20/20 VISION COMMITTEE HAS ENDED WITH THE COMPLETION OF THIS VISITATION, I WISH ONCE AGAIN TO CONGRATULATE CANON GARY DOWD AND THE MEMBERS OF HIS 20/20 VISION COMMITTEE FOR GETTING US MOVING AND THINKING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. THE QUESTION FOR ME ARISING OUT OF THIS VISITATION WAS ?WHERE DO WE TAKE IT FROM HERE??

FORTUNATELY, HELP WAS AT HAND ACROSS THE WATER IN THE PERSON OF THE ARCHDEACON OF WALSALL, BOB JACKSON, ONE OF THE FOREMOST AUTHORITIES ON PARISH GROWTH AND DIOCESAN DEVELOPMENT WORKING IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND AT PRESENT AND AUTHOR OF SEVERAL BOOKS, INCLUDING THE SEMINAL ?HOPE IN THE CHURCH?. HIS STATISTICAL EXPERTISE WOULD ALSO BE OF ASSISTANCE IN HELPING US CLARIFY ?FACT FROM FICTION? IN TERMS OF NUMERICAL RETURNS. I INVITED HIM TO ASSIST OUR THINKING AT THIS ONGOING STAGE AND HE KINDLY AGREED, PROVIDING THE CLERGY WITH A QUESTIONNAIRE UPON WHICH HE REPORTED TO ANOTHER CONJOINT MEETING OF COUNCILS RECENTLY HELD IN KILKENNY.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO SAY TWO THINGS BEFORE I INTRODUCE THE MAIN POINTS OF HIS FINDINGS, WHICH SHOULD BE BORNE IN MIND. FIRST, IT IS TRUE TO SAY THAT YES, HE HAS HAD NO EXPERIENCE OF AND LITTLE EXPOSURE TO, THE PARISH LIFE OF THE CHURCH OF IRELAND. SECONDLY, THE IRISH DIOCESES, THOUGH FAR LARGER GEOGRAPHICALLY THAN SEVERAL ENGLISH OR WELSH DIOCESES, ARE NUMERICALLY FAR SMALLER IN TERMS OF CLERGY AND PEOPLE NUMBERS, EVEN BISHOPS! HOWEVER, THESE VALID POINTS SHOULD NOT UNDERMINE THE VERACITY OF HIS COMMENTS WHICH, ARISING OUT OF DEEP AND WIDE EXPERIENCE, ARE ABLE TO IDENTIFY UNDENIABLE IMAGES AND TRENDS THROUGHOUT THE SEE, WHICH ARE THE FOLLOWING:

* THERE IS NUMERICAL DECLINE IN MEMBERSHIP OF 3% OVER A FIVE YEAR PERIOD BETWEEN 1999-2003
* THE APPEARANCE OF OUR CHURCH LIFE IS VERY DATED IN COMPARISON WITH THAT OF ENGLAND. IT IS BEST EXPRESSED BY A ?CORNER SHOP MENTALITY?, WHICH ASSUMES AND PRESUMES FAITHFUL REGULARS IN STATIC FORM, TO BE DISTINGUISHED FROM A ?SUPERMARKET, CONSUMER LED MENTALITY?, WHICH IS OUTWARD LOOKING AND MISSION ORIENTATED TO THE LOCALITY, EXPECTING FLUIDITY IN BELONGING.
* YOUNG PEOPLE ARE VISIBLY ABSENT FROM OUR CHURCHES AND STATISTICS, ALTHOUGH THE BALTINGLASS YOUTH SERVICE WHICH IS TO BE COMMENDED, BUCKS THIS TREND.

HE IDENTIFIED THE FOLLOWING SIGNS OF HOPE FOR US TO BUILD ON ?

1.THE NATIONAL CENSUS RETURNS WHICH INDICATE MORE ANGLICANS THAN DO OUR DIOCESAN RETURNS 2. INTEREST FROM MEMBERS OF OTHER CHURCHES IN THE ?ANGLICAN SHAPE? OF BEING CHRISTIAN.

3. INVOLVEMENT IN ECUMENICAL YOUTH ACTIVITES, LIKE ?REGENERATE? WHICH CAN ATTRACT THE SEEKER.

IF WE ARE TO GROW AND TO DEVELOP AT THE PARISH AND DIOCESAN LEVELS, WE MUST PAY SERIOUS ATTENTION TO THE FOLLOWING ?

* BECOME MORE MISSIONARY MINDED IN THE LOCALITY. THAT MEANS LOOKING OUTWARD IN SERVICE AND SEEKING NOT ONLY THE UNCHURCHED, BUT THE NON-CHURCHED. THIS HAS IMPLICATIONS FOR HOW WE UNDERSTAND OUR SELVES AND OUR OWN SELF-CONFIDENCE.
* BECOME FAR MORE WELCOMING. MY FRIENDS, I HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT THIS IN THE DIOCESAN MAGAZINE RECENTLY. THIS IS VITAL, ESPECIALLY BEFORE AND AFTER SERVICES. I HAVE HEARD HORROR STORIES RECENTLY OF A VISITING FAMILY ARRIVING TO AND DEPARTING FROM A CHURCH IN THE SEE WITHOUT ANYONE HAVING A WORD WITH THEM. ANOTHER RELATES TO AN INDIVIDUAL BEING ASKED TO LEAVE A PEW WHERE OTHERS REGULARLY SIT. THIS IS 2004. I URGE SELECT VESTRIES TO DEAL WITH THIS ISSUE AS A MATTER OF PRIORITY AND TO PAY PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO GREETING, AS WELL AS MERELY HANDING OUT BOOKS, TO PARISHIONER AND VISITOR ALIKE.
* BECOME MORE FAMILY AND ALL AGE WORSHIP FRIENDLY. THIS IS A FUNDAMENTAL OF PARISH GROWTH AND THE RESOURCES OF THE NEW BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER ARE VERY USEFUL HERE, ESPECIALLY THE SERVICE OF THE WORD. THANKFULLY, WE ARE ENCOURAGED TO PROCEED WITH THE APPOINTMENT OF THE CHILDREN?S MINISTRY OFFICER, WORKING IN TANDEM WITH PHILIP, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
* THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING ATTRACTIVE BIBLE AND PRAYER GROUP MATERIALS AND USING DIFFERENT CONTEXTS FOR SUCH GATHERINGS.

NEGLECT NOT PRAYER IN ALL OF THIS, PLEASE.

THESE THEN ARE THE MAIN FINDINGS AND I AM VERY GRATEFUL FOR THE POSITIVE EMPHASIS IN THE ARCHDEACON?S REPORT. I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOU A FURTHER COMPONENT PART WHICH WOULD ASSIST US IN SUCH DEVELOPMENT AND WHICH BOB JACKSON HAS ENCOURAGED ME TO BRING BEFORE YOU. I DO SO HESITATINGLY, BUT IN A POSITIVE SPIRIT.

IT IS THE NECESSITY OF EMPLOYING SOMEONE TO RESOURCE THIS AND TO ASSIST US MAKE IT ALL HAPPEN. IN SHORT, I BELIEVE THAT WE NEED THE RESOURCE OF A PARISH DEVELOPMENT OFFICER. IF WE DO NOT HAVE THE ENERGY, EXPERIENCE, SKILL AND KNOW-HOW OF SUCH A RESOURCE PERSON FOR A PERIOD OF SAY FIVE YEARS, THEN I FEAR WE WILL END UP, FOR WANT OF A BETTER DESCRIPTION, SIMPLY PUSHING THE SAME PAPER WITH THE SAME ASPIRATIONS AMONGST THE SAME WELL INTENTIONED PEOPLE AROUND THE SAME TABLE, ?AD NAUSEAM?.

A DIOCESAN DEVELOPMENT OFFICER, WORKING ALONGSIDE OUR CHILDREN?S OFFICER AND YOUTH OFFICER, COULD MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE OVER A 5 YEAR PERIOD, WHERE IT REALLY MATTERS ? RESOURCING THE PARISHES OF OUR GROUPS AND UNIONS. SUCH AN APPOINTEE WOULD HELP US TO FACE THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGE FOR THE SAKE OF OUR CONTEMPORARY MISSION, BOTH AT CENTRAL AND LOCAL LEVELS, ASSISTING US IN THE PROCESS TO REALISE OUR POTENTIAL FOR GROWTH IN THE GOSPEL AND BROADER SERVICE IN THE COMMUNITY.

OUTSIDE RESOURCES

OVER A YEAR AGO, THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY ASKED THE ARCHBISHOP OF ARMAGH ONCE AGAIN, TO STEP ?INTO THE BREACH IN THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION?. HE INVITED HIM TO CHAIR HIS ?LAMBETH COMMISSION ON COMMUNION?, ESTABLISHED TO DEAL WITH THE SERIOUS RIFT IN COMMUNION AMONGST ITS MEMBER PROVINCES, ARISING OUT OF ISSUES CONNECTED WITH SEXUALITY IN GENERAL AND HOMOSEXUALITY IN PARTICULAR.

HE WAS OF COURSE ASKING THE RIGHT MAN, FOR ARCHBISHOP EAMES HAD DONE SIMILAR RECONCILING WORK IN THE PAST. FOR EXAMPLE, AS CHAIR OF HIS OWN ?EAMES COMMISSION?, HE DEALT WITH THE THEOLOGICAL AND ECCELSIOLOGICAL TENSIONS ARISING OUT OF THE ORDINATION OF WOMEN AS PRIESTS AND BISHOPS IN CERTAIN PARTS OF THE COMMUNION. A WAY FORWARD WAS CLARIFED, ENABLING DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES TO LIVE IN THE ONE COMMUNION IN HARMONY.

THIS ? WINDSOR REPORT?, WHICH WAS ONLY PUBLISHED AT NOON ON MONDAY (SIGNIFICANTLY THE FEAST OF SAINT LUKE, PATRON OF HEALING), DOES NOT ALLOW FOR A SPEEDY RESPONSE. RATHER IT IS A MOST IMPORTANT RESOURCE FOR EACH MEMBER PROVINCE OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION, SUCH AS THE CHURCH OF IRELAND, TO REFLECT UPON AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, TO RESPOND TO AS NECESSARY, NOT LEAST IN RELATION TO ITS ?COVENANT PROPOSALS?.

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO EMPHASISE THAT ALTHOUGH THE GENESIS OF THE REPORT LIES IN ISSUES I HAVE ALREADY MENTIONED, ITS BRIEF WAS EXPLICITLY NOT TO EXAMINE SUCH ISSUES. RATHER, ITS BRIEF WAS TO LOOK IN THEOLOGICAL DEPTH AT THE ECCLESIOLOGICAL ISSUES OF COMMUNION AND EPISCOPACY IN PARTICULAR, AT A TIME OF CRISIS FOR SUCH ?INSTRUMENTS OF COMMUNION?. TO EXPLORE HOW THE TRADITIONAL ?BONDS OF AFFECTION? WHICH EXIST BETWEEN THE AUTONOMOUS PARTS OF COMMUNION CAN BE STRENGTHENED, LEST THEY DEGENERATE INTO ?BONDS OF DISAFFECTION?, OR WORSE.

QUESTIONS ALONG THE FOLLOWING LONES ARE RAISED ? ?WHAT ARE THE INSTRUMENTS OF COMMUNION WHICH ARE VITAL TO OUR CATHOLICITY??; ?WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE EPISCOPATE AS AN INSTRUMENT OF CATHOLICITY??; ?WHAT DO WE UNDERSTAND BY THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE??.

THESE AND OTHER SERIOUS AND EXCITING QUESTIONS ARE EXAMINED AND REFLECTED UPON IN THIS REPORT, WHICH I RE-EMPHASISE DESERVES REFLECTIVE STUDY AND NOT SPEEDY COMMENT.

HOWEVER, I WOULD ENCOURAGE PARISHIONERS WHO HAVE THE WELL BEING OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION AT HEART, TO RESPOND IN TWO WAYS IN PARTICULAR AT THIS TIME. FIRST, TO READ THE REPORT CAREFULLY BEFORE PASSING ANY COMMENT. IT IS AVAILABLE ON THE WEB.

SECONDLY, TO GIVE THANKS FOR THE WORK OF THE ARCHBISHOP AND THE MEMBERS OF HIS COMMISSION AND TO CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR HIM AND HIS BROTHER ARCHBISHOP IN CANTERBURY AT THIS TIME OF CHALLENGE AND PROMISE FOR US ALL, NOT LEAST AS A PROCESS OF RECEPTION DEVELOPS OVER THE MONTHS AHEAD. IT IS WORTH NOTING POSITIVELY THAT EACH MEMBER OF THE COMMISSION, COMING FROM DIVERSE CULTURAL AND THEOLOGICAL BACKGROUNDS, SIGNED THE REPORT. NO MEAN FEAT AND A PERSONAL TRIBUTE TO THE WORK OF OUR ARCHBISHOP.

LET US NOW MOVE TO THE BUSINESS OF SYNOD IN CONFIDENCE AND THANKSGIVING TO GOD.