11 May 2012

Welcomes and hospitality at the General Synod

Deans and canon waiting for the procession in Saint Patrick's Cathedral last night (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Patrick Comerford

The debates at General Synod are being reported on other websites and blogs at the moment, and I am part of the team compiling the reports for next week’s edition of the Church of Ireland Gazette.

I’m not going to comment on yesterday’s debates and procedural hiccups, but there were two interesting personal highlights during the day.

I am part of the team looking after our ecumenical guests, who include Father Keiran McDermott and Father Pádraig Murphy (Roman Catholic Church), Mrs Helen Hood (Episcopal Church of Scotland), the Revd Ian Henderson, President, and Mrs Dorthy O’Ferrall (Methodist Church in Ireland), the Very Revd Norman Hamilton, former Moderator, and Mrs Cherry Poynton (Presbyterian Church), the Revd Paul Holdsworth (Moravian Church), Father Irenaeus du Plessis (Antiochian Orthodox Church), and Mr Mervyn McCullagh of the Irish Council of Churches.

As Archbishop Michael Jackson said this morning, “our synodical meeting over these three days is much enriched by the presence of our ecumenical guests.” I too have been enriched by our conversations listening to debates, over coffee breaks and at meal times.

The Revd Niall Sloane, who seconded the report of the Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue, also suggested interfaith representatives could also be invited to the General Synod as observers.

Then last night, the chapter of Christ Church Cathedral Dublin was invited to robe for the General Synod Service in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. We processed with the deans of the cathedrals of the Church of Ireland, the chapter of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and the bishops of the Church of Ireland.

I have been a member of the General Synod for about 20 years, but I cannot remember an invitation like this to the chapter of Christ Church. It shows new, refreshing and welcoming attitude in Saint Patrick’s and that the new dean has created a genuinely friendly atmosphere in the cathedral.

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