Autumn 2020


THE CHALLENGES of the continuing pandemic dominate almost every article in this issue, from Archbishop McDowell’s call for repentance and a re-thinking of our vocation to Christopher Shiell’s exposition of the lack of climate-friendly church heating and what is needed to achieve it.
Through every article, whether explicitly or implicitly, lies the question of how we think about God and God’s action in the world and in our lives. This is addressed directly and passionately by Jerusha McCormack in “God and the Pandemic: Living the Question”. With no claim to be a theologian, but with impressive cross-cultural and academic credentials, Dr McCormack addresses the deep and painful questions that have afflicted us in relation to God down the millennia. Looking East as well as West and pointing to cross-cultural enlightenment in the Middle Ages as well as in our time, she offers a way forward that has rarely been expressed so well. Eschatological issues, so dominant today, are further considered in two articles written by theologians in answer to the question “What do we mean when we say we believe in the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come?” David Ford offers his reflections based on John’s Gospel, on which he has just completed his Theological Commentary, and William Olhausen follows with his interpretation from a Pauline perspective. Then to get down to brass tacks, QUB sociologist Gladys Ganiel usefully outlines the results of her recent survey on “Faith Leaders’ response to the pandemic”, majoring on the responses about both faith and practice received from Church of Ireland clergy. There is much that is helpful here as we seek to discern the way forward both for worship, for outreach and for pastoral care. Finally, before Shiell, “Liturgica” and the Book Reviews, Eileen Cremin reflects on her ministry as curate and rector in the diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross over the past twenty years. Being both Black and British when she arrived here after thirteen years of ordained ministry in the C of E brought some difficulties she had not anticipated. There are lessons here for the Church’s welcome to incoming clergy of all backgrounds. There will be more pandemic-related material in the first issue of SEARCH in 2021, not least in connection with church worship, internet worship and the Eucharist. Make sure of your copy now!


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