Autumn 2012


The Ulster covenant was being celebrated and analysed in the media as this issue of SEARCH was going to press, so it is good that we can start off this autumn with a trio of articles considering not only the Covenant but the decade of mould-breaking - even seismic – events it led into. Bishop John McDowell, who chairs the C of I’s Historical Commemorations Working Group, leads off with an overview of the Decade of Commemorations, urging that we “listen carefully to the whole story”. There follow reflections relating to the Decade from two different perspectives, reminding us of the respectable unionist tradition in the South (Wilfred Baker) and noting also the positive attitude to the events of 1916 expressed by distinguished Church of Ireland preachers in the jubilee year of 1966 (Aonghus Dwane).
A second trio of articles on sexuality issues seems inevitable – with apologies to those who have had more than enough of this church-dividing subject. All the material is designed to foster much needed thoughtful discussion rather than polarisation. Bishop Michael Mayes’ article, spontaneously offered to SEARCH, charts his own journey through the territory in relation to the biblical texts and the community issues. Ron Elsdon poses questions from the conservative side which he would like to discuss dispassionately with those who support the LGBT agenda; and Tom Gordon, stating and then setting aside his personal situation, offers some important social analysis from recent surveys for our consideration. Context in relation to Christian biblical interpretation, practice and mission is one of the issues which is basic to the sexuality discussion, so it is felicitous that Keith Scott’s article “Missionary Gospel – the challenge of changing contexts” was available at this time. There follows a vital consideration of the value and practice of “pastoral supervision”, a discipline from which all ministers should benefit, by Diane Clutterbuck, a leading practitioner in this field. Finally, marking 350 years since the 1662 Prayer Book, William Marshall offers a concise summary of our common worship since the Reformation, leaving some space for our book reviews. And this editorial concludes with a plea to subscribers to forward their 2013 subscriptions before the end of the year to our new treasurer, Mr Michael Denton, also their 2012 ones, if this remains to be done. Detachable subscription forms are at the back of the journal.


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