Saturday, 8 May 2010

Christ Church Cathedral at its best

Archbishop Alan Harper presents Patrick Comerford with the 2010 runner-up prize for his blog at General Synod (Photograph: David Wynne)

Patrick Comerford

As a member of the chapter, it was great to see Christ Church Cathedral at its best throughout these three days of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland. The third and final day of Synod opened this morning with the Cathedral Choir leading us in singing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah.

Of course, Handel’s Messiah had its first performance only a few footsteps away from the cathedral.

When we got down to business, it was obvious that we were going to finish early. Three bills passed their third and final stages within three minutes on the third day – surely a record for the third day at any sitting of the General Synod.

The first Bill deals with the provisions for clergy pensions; the second Bill separates the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral group of parishes from Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and creates a new parish of Saint Catherine and Saint James when the Deanery of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is next vacant; the third Bill creates a new board for Saint Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast.

The Archbishop of Armagh then presented the prizes for the competition organised by the Central Communications Board for newsletters, magazines, websites and the innovative use of social media.

The winners and runners-up were: Taney Parish for Taney News and Saint Columba’s Parish, Knock, for The Columban; the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe for N:Vision and Dublin and Glendalough Diocese for the Church Review; Soundboard, a newsletter for church musicians, and In Touch, published by Connor Diocese Mothers’ Union; the websites of Willowfield Parish, Belfast, and Aughrim Parish in Clonfert Diocese; the Derry and Raphoe and Connor diocesan websites; the Summer Madness website, ‘Tales of the Unexpected’, and the Uganda 2010 site of Shankill Parish, Lurgan; and the Revd Daniel Owen’s ‘Imprints of Light’ blog [http://imprintsoflight.blogspot.com/] and this blog.

The judges liked Daniel’s “wonderful photos and interesting thoughts – they kept on scrolling to enjoy all the photos.” They said this blogspot is “clearly a very active account with lots of interesting material.”

Olive Stanely-Wetzel’s winning caption was: “God’s Gift.”

Each year, the “caption competition” causes great hilarity. This year, first prize went to Olive Stanely-Wetzel (Killaloe) for her caption: “God’s Gift.” The runners up were the Revd Dr Ron Elsdon (Connor): “Please, can you wrap him up for me?” Bishop Harold Miller (Down and Dromore): “Hi there! Just wondering if the Church is open at all? And it has been properly re-ordered?” and Lyndon MacCann (Dublin): “Go Forth and Fructify.”

Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin ... the venue of this year’s General Synod the Church of Ireland (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

This year, this was no report from the Board of Social Responsibility (Republic of Ireland), whose sole activity over the year was the establishment of the new Board for Social Theology in Action. The Church and Society Committee presented its final report, and the committee will be replaced by the Board for Social Theology in Action.

It was good to hear Dermot O’Callaghan (Down and Dromore) apologise for going “into too much graphic detail” on the first day of General Synod. If we could all have the good grace to apologise when we step over the boundaries and offend others we would have a much happier church.

The attendance during the three days of General Synod had waned as each day passed: Thursday, 439; Friday, 426; today (Saturday), 304. Perhaps we just need two-day synods in future.

My stall in the chapter of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (hotograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)