Friday, 9 February 2018

Report on book launch and a letter
in the ‘Church of Ireland Gazette’


Patrick Comerford

Today’s edition of ‘The Church of Ireland Gazette’ [9 February 2018] carries the following half-page news report [p 5] on the launch of a new book to which I recently contributed:

Launch of Perspectives on Preaching – notable preachers
and thinkers contribute to ‘homegrown’ new book


A new book, Perspectives on Preaching: A Witness of the Irish Church, published by Church of Ireland Publishing (CIP) in conjunction with the Church of Ireland Theological Institute (CITI), was launched by the Rt Revd Ken Good, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, in the Music Room of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, on 22nd January.

The publication, featuring contributions from a wide range of notable preachers and thinkers, has been edited by Canon Dr Maurice Elliott (Director of CITI) and the Revd Dr Patrick McGlinchey (Lecturer in Missiology and Pastoral Studies at CITI) and has been produced with, in the words of Dr Elliott, “the underlying conviction that biblically-grounded, Spirit-filled and culturally-relevant preaching is a sine qua non for the health of any local church.”

Formally launching the title, Bishop Good praised Dr Elliott and Dr McGlinchey for taking the initiative and seeing the book through to fruition. He particularly praised the volume for being “home-grown” – “drawing on experts from this island who are earthed and interested in contemporary Ireland.”

Bishop Good went on observe that the book is “both contemporary and local” and is free-range” – “not controlled, arguing from one point but offering 12 distinctive, separate contributions which show that there is not just one way to do preaching well.”

He said that “such a healthy diversity of approach opens up questions rather than closing them down. However, all the contributors advocate preaching and promote a high view of preaching.”

The new publication engages with the themes of preaching Scripture, denominational charisms and preaching to the culture, across 12 different chapters.

In addition to the editors, the contributors are: Archbishop Richard Clarke; Canon Patrick Comerford; the Revd Dr Shane Crombie; the Revd Dr Brian Fletcher; the Revd Barry Forde; Bishop Ferran Glenfield; Dr Katie Heffelfinger; Bishop Harold Miller; the Right Revd Dr Trevor Morrow and the Revd Dr Robin Stockitt.

Perspectives on Preaching: A Witness of the Irish Church (pp.242) is available from https://store.ireland.anglican.org/store/product/140/perspectives-on-preaching-a-witness-of. It is priced €11/£10.

Meanwhile, the Revd Canon Susan Green of Tullow, Co Carlow, has written this letter to the editor of the Gazette, published on p 10:

Female contributors to book on preaching

‘I was glad to hear of the publication of a new book on preaching, Perspectives on Preaching: A Witness of the Irish Church, published by Church of Ireland Publishing (CIP). Even more so when it advertised that it included “a wide range of notable preachers” and was ecumenical too.

‘I was heartened to read that, in the words of its editor, it was based on “the underlying conviction that biblically-grounded, Spirit-filled and culturally-relevant preaching is a sine qua non for the health of any local church”.

‘Unfortunately, as I read on I was deeply disappointed to see that 11 of the 12m undoubtedly all very fine contributors, were men.

‘To be truly culturally relevant one must seriously engage with, listen to and reflect the voices of the people who have experienced exclusion, who have not been at the top of society and who have been treated with suspicion by those who hold the reins of power.
‘For so many generations in Ireland the voices of women have been silenced. Our history records the actions of men whilst many of the women’s voices are lost altogether.

‘Unfortunately, even our relatively recent history contains a litany of injustices perpetrated against women – the Mother and Baby Homes, and the Magdalene Laundries.

‘As I write, the events of the Kerry Babies Tribunal are being revisited and, of course, the Eighth Amendment debate is revving up.

‘Into this maelstrom arrives a book on preaching, speaking from an overwhelmingly male perspective, and although the sole female voice offers the welcome and much-needed insight of someone who originates from beyond Ireland, there is no female Irish contributor ordained or lay.

‘It seems bizarre to me that this should even be an issue, after almost 30 years of women’s ordination. But it is, and if the counter argument is made that there are not enough suitable women, then I would suggest that this poses an even bigger question.’

Indeed, Dr McGlinchey, in his conclusions, seems uncomfortable with my ‘style of churchmanship’ and my paper, saying my ‘perspective does marks a seeming dissonance within the volume.’

Perhaps there might have been less dissonance and more balance if I was not the only person from position within Anglicanism who was invited to contribute to this volume. Indeed, I seem to be the only writer who discusses Patristic sources for the place of preaching within the Liturgy, there is only one Roman Catholic writer, and there is no Orthodox voice among the contributors.

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