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Installation of new Dean of Belfast

Archdeacon Stephen Forde who will be installed as Dean of Belfast at Choral Evensong in St Anne’s Cathedral on Sunday February 4 at 3.30pm.
Archdeacon Stephen Forde who will be installed as Dean of Belfast at Choral Evensong in St Anne’s Cathedral on Sunday February 4 at 3.30pm.

The Venerable Stephen Forde, Archdeacon of Dalriada, and rector of the Parishes of Larne and Inver with Glynn and Raloo, will be installed as the 14th Dean of Belfast at a service in St Anne’s Cathedral on Sunday February 4 at 3.30pm.

The service, in which the new Dean will also be instituted as Incumbent of the Cathedral Parish, will be attended by the Bishops of Connor and Down and Dromore, representatives of community life in the city, visiting Bishops and leaders of the other main denominations in Northern Ireland.

The service follows the order for Choral Evensong, and will be led by the Cathedral Choir and the Larne Concert Choir with the St Cedma’s Singers (Larne Parish). Members of the Brass section of the Ulster Orchestra will also help to make a joyful noise. The former Dean of St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Dublin, the Very Rev Victor Stacey, will read the first lesson. The second lesson will be read by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Sonia Copeland. The sermon will be preached by the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy.

During the service, the Dean–elect will be presented for institution into the Cathedral Parish by the Archdeacon of Belfast, the Ven George Davison, and the Act of Institution will be conducted by the Bishop of Connor. Archdeacon Forde will be installed as Dean of Belfast by Archdeacon Davison, accompanied by the Bishop of Down and Dromore, the Rt Rev Harold Miller.

He will then be presented to the people by the Bishop of Connor, and welcomed by the Very Rev Martin Graham, Administrator of St Peter’s Cathedral, on behalf of all the church leaders.

The formal institution and installation of the new Dean is followed by commissioning in which the Dean is presented with symbols of the teaching, pastoral and sacramental ministry of an incumbent. These will include a Bible (to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ), a container of water (recognising that the Cathedral is a place of Christian baptism), a Book of Common Prayer (demonstrating the primary role of the Dean to lead public worship and encourage a life of personal devotion), bread and wine (the elements of holy communion), oil (symbolic of healing and reconciliation), the key to the Cathedral (as a reminder that the Cathedral is a place to be kept open for all people) and a towel (as a reminder of Christ washing his disciples’ feet and of the ministry of service and support of those in need and in trouble). 

Prayers of thanksgiving and intercession will be offered by clergy from the Larne area: The Rev Dr John Nelson, Ballycarry Non–Subscribing Presbyterian Church; the Very Rev Aidan Kerr, PP, Larne; the Rev Chris Skillen, Larne Methodist, Fr Conor McCarthy, curate Larne; and the Rev Dr Colin McClure, First Larne Presbyterian. The Benedictine Monks of the Holy Cross Monastery, Rostrevor, will sing the responses.

During the service, there will be a collection for Belfast Cathedral’s Black Santa Sit–out.

Dean–elect Forde said: “With the redevelopment of the Cathedral Quarter, and the arrival of 10,000 students at the University of Ulster, this is a time of new beginnings and new horizons.

“I hope the Cathedral will be a place where people who are rushed and hassled by life’s demands will find rest and refreshment, a place of peace in a world of many pressures. I also hope the Cathedral will be a place of ecumenical encounter, a place where bridges are built and barriers dismantled. Above all, I pray this will be a place where people discover how much they matter, because they will discover how much they matter to God.

“While I am excited at these new opportunities, I am also conscious that being Dean of Belfast is a massive challenge and a daunting task. I approach this new role, knowing that will I need the prayers and support of so many others: The staff at the Cathedral, the Cathedral community who call this place their spiritual home, and also support from the wider community in Belfast, as well as from the clergy and people of the two dioceses that this Cathedral serves.

“Yet I know that the God who calls is also the God who equips. All I can ask is that people will pray for me, and work with me, to achieve God’s ambitions for this great Cathedral and to embrace all the opportunities of God’s future.”