21 July 2017

Anglican mission agency USPG
appoints a new CEO

The Revd Duncan Dormor, Dean of Saint John’s College, Cambridge, is the new CEO of USPG

Patrick Comerford

The Revd Duncan Dormor, Dean of Saint John’s College, Cambridge, is to be the next CEO of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).

Duncan Dormor succeeds Janette O’Neill, who is retiring after six years with USPG.

The appointment was agreed at a meeting of the trustees of USPG in High Leigh earlier this week and was announced this morning [21 July 2017].

Commenting on his appointment, Duncan Dormor said: ‘I am absolutely delighted to be offered this opportunity to lead USPG as it works with partner Churches across the Anglican Communion in seeking to transform the lives of individuals and communities through the power of the Gospel.’

He continued: ‘Faithful to its history, radical in its proclamation, I have long admired the way in which USPG acts in solidarity to empower local churches across the globe in ways that respect their autonomy and culture.’

He said: 'Having spent many years in ministry with young people, I know first-hand of USPG’s thirst to engage with the pressing global challenges of injustice and poverty that scar our world and I would seek to harness such vision to deepen and renew the life of the church across the world through USPG.’

Canon Chris Chivers, Chair of the Trustees of USPG, added: ‘I am thrilled with this appointment. Duncan Dormor brings energy and passion, dynamic communication skills and a proven track-record in enabling organisational change to this important post.’

He said: ‘His deep faith in Jesus Christ, his significant international experience in relation to St John’s College and Cambridge University, his global vision, alertness to the perspective of younger generations, concern for justice and reconciliation, and inspiring work as writer and speaker, make him well-placed to lead the team who will shape the next phase for USPG in new and exciting ways.’

The Master of Saint John’s College, Cambridge, Professor Chris Dobson, said: ‘Duncan has been an absolutely outstanding Dean of Chapel at St John’s and has been a valued member of the college for almost 20 years. In that time, he has also made huge contributions to the pastoral, musical and academic life of the College. We shall miss him very much indeed, but I know that he relishes the prospect of using his energy, experience and passion for justice in this exciting new role.’

Duncan Dormor was an undergraduate at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he read Human Sciences before studying for an MSc in Medical Demography from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. For three years, he worked for Dr Jack Dominian as the Information Officer of the family research and outreach organisation One Plus One.

In 1992, he returned to Oxford to take a degree in theology while training for ordination at Ripon College, Cuddesdon. He was ordained in Lichfield Cathedral in 1995 and served as a curate at Saint Peter’s Collegiate Church in Central Wolverhampton. He became Chaplain of Saint John’s in 1998 and was appointed Dean in 2002.

As Dean of the Chapel, he has had overall responsibility for the life of the chapel and its community, for the conduct of worship, the work of the choir and for the oversight of pastoral care within the College community.

Duncan is Director of Studies for Theology at Saint John’s College. He lectures in the Divinity Faculty and is the author of many publications.

He has co-edited (with Jeremy Morris) An Acceptable Sacrifice? Homosexuality and the Church, a collection of essays by nine Cambridge theologians with a foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. With controversy about same-sex relationships within the Anglican Communion rumbling on, this book gives lay people and clergy alike the resources to think through this complex subject in relation to scripture, tradition and reason, and attempts an honest exploration of some of the key difficulties posed for the Church by the question of homosexuality.

Previous publications include Just Cohabiting? The Church, Sex and Getting Married, in which he provides a short history of the church’s complicated and uneasy attitudes to sexuality and marriage and argues for a radical reappraisal of the Church’s position, proposing that in a chaotic climate for relationships, in which couples desire marriage yet fear commitment, the church should embrace cohabitation as part of the process of ‘becoming married.’

Anglicanism: the Answer to Modernity, originally published in 2003 and re-issued in 2005, is a collection of essays addressing the intellectual future of the Church of England in a confident, faithful and open way.

Duncan has also contributed to a number of other edited collections, including Religion, Gender and the Public Sphere (2013) and Religion and Youth (2010) and he contributes regular reviews to The Church Times and Theology.

He is the Chair of Governors at Saint John’s College School. He is also responsible, as secretary to the Livings committee, for the presentation of clergy to 40 parishes in the Church of England with which Saint John’s College has long historic connections.

Duncan Dormor serves on General Synod of the Church of England as Proctor for the University of Cambridge and on the Mission and Public Affairs Council of the Church of England. He is also on the Governing Council of Westcott House, a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Committee, and a Trustee of the Churches Conservation Trust.

Finding items from
these parishes in
the Hunt Museum

The Askeaton Paten and Chalice were made in 1663 by John Bucknor of Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

Patrick Comerford

During my visit to the Hunt Museum in Limerick last week, a number of exhibits were of interest to me because of their links with the area embraced by the Rathkeale Group of Parishes in west Co Limerick, including Communion vessels from Askeaton, a replica of the Ardagh Chalice, two late 18th century paintings from Askeaton, and a hand-pin from Askeaton.

A Communion Paten and Chalice attributed to John Bucknor of Limerick was made ca 1663, and is on loan to the Museum by the Select Vestry of Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton.

John Bucknor was one of the early important workers in silver in Limerick. His first-known work dates from 1664, and in 1666 he was appointed Sheriff of Limerick. He died around 1671.

The silver replica of the Ardagh Chalice is not an original exhibit in the Hunt Museum, but tells the story of one of the most important archaeological finds in Ireland, which is part of the story of this part of west Limerick.

The replica of the Ardagh Chalice in the Hunt Museum (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

The Ardagh Chalice is part of the Ardagh Hoard, a hoard of metalwork from the eighth and ninth centuries found in 1868 and now on display in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

It includes the Ardagh Chalice, as well as a stemmed cup and four brooches. The chalice ranks with the Book of Kells, the Cross of Cong and the Tara Brooch as one of the finest known works of Insular art or Celtic art, and is thought to have been made in the eighth century AD. The brooches may have been worn by monastic clergy to fasten their vestments.

The hoard was found in 1868 by two boys, Jim Quin and Paddy Flanagan, digging in a potato field on the south-west side of a rath near the village of Ardagh, Co Limerick. The chalice held the other items, they seem to have been buried in a hurry, to be recovered at a later time. Quin’s mother sold the find to George Butler, Roman Catholic Bishop of Limerick.

The Ardagh Chalice ... one of the finest known works of Celtic art (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The chalice is a large, two-handled silver cup, decorated with gold, gilt bronze, brass, lead pewter and enamel, which has been assembled from 354 separate pieces. This complex construction is typical of early Christian Irish metalwork.

The main body of the chalice is formed from two hemispheres of sheet silver joined with a rivet hidden by a gilt-bronze band. The names of the apostles are incised in a frieze around the bowl, below a girdle bearing inset gold wirework panels of animals, birds, and geometric interlace. Techniques used include hammering, engraving, lost-wax casting, filigree applique, cloisonné and enamel. Even the underside of the chalice is decorated.

The Ardagh Chalice was restored by Johnston of Grafton Street, Dublin, and is now on display in the National Museum of Ireland in Kildare Street, Dublin.

This replica chalice has an oval body with a sub-conical foot and a cylindrical stem, and was made of silver, enamel, gold (gilt) and glass, and the centre of the base is set with a large rock crystal. The underside edge of the rim is stamped with the name Watson Fothergill.

Johnston later reproduced a faithful copy that was subsequently bought in 1891 by Fothergill, an artist and collector from Nottingham. Fothergill kept a diary in which he refers to the copy of the Ardagh Chalice he had in his home. It may have been sold by his family in early 1928.

The hand-pin or dress pin from Askeaton (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

The hand-pin or dress pin from Askeaton has a head resembling the palm of the hand with the fingers bent forward.

The earliest hand-pins are of silver and are of a relatively modest size. Many were made into the sixth century in copper alloy, with elaborately decorated heads and exceptionally long pins. Most developed hand-pins have five fingers, but the hand-pin found in Askeaton has three fingers.

In this example, the head is a semi-circular plate with a circular perforation. It is capped by three projecting fingers and is fixed to a right-angled projection at the top of the shank. The head is decorated with a pattern of reserved metal against a background of red enamel.

This may be the same hand-pin described by JG Hewson in 1884 in the Journal of the Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland.

The museum also holds two watercolours also of interest to this parish. A watercolour of the castle at Askeaton was painted by the Revd J Turner in 1790, and Turner also painted a watercolour of the Abbey in Askeaton in 1798.

Other items of church interest that caught my imagination, including the Lough Gur Chalice and Paten, on loan from Kilmallock Select Vestry; an icon-like, late mediaeval painting of Saint Sebastian, Saint Nicholas of Myra and Saint Anthony of Egypt; a silver reliquary bust of Saint Patrick; the Antrim Cross; the Cashel Bell; a 17th century triptych; and a crucifix that is said to have been owned at once by the architect AWN Pugin.

I may return to these in blog postings over the next few days or weeks.