REFLECTION on the legacy of the Reformation continues in this autumn’s SEARCH, with articles on our interpretation of the diaconate as an “inviolate” order of ministry and on Morning Prayer as the most favoured Sunday morning service in Church of Ireland parishes. We are grateful to the Revd Kevin Conroy and Professor Steven Ellis for these.
The way we continue to respond to the changes and challenges in the society around us is another aspect of re ection on the Reformation, and in this area we have three important contributions: on GAFCON, on the demands and dangers of “loyalty”, and the ways community identity is liable to shift in response to political context.
The last of these is addressed by Professor Andrew Mayes in relation to Ancient Israel, mining the Old Testament texts to show the successive self-identities of Israel as tribal brotherhood, monarchy and dispersed People of God and showing how each was an essential shift in response to historical and sociological change.
While Andrew Mayes contends that “there is no ideology without conflict of ideology”, Rev Dr Lesley Carroll, now Deputy Chief Commissioner at the Equality Commission NI, brings the matter of competing identities into the present. Considering how easily the virtue of loyalty can turn toxic where communities vie for dominance, she looks at the conflict experience of countries as diverse as Rwanda, Bosnia and Canada, and challenges the churches to lead the competing communities of Northern Ireland into mutual respect and cooperation.
On a larger canvas, that of the Anglican Communion, former ACC officer Canon Philip Groves analyses GAFCON’S challenge to the Communion and concludes that it cannot be described as an appropriate development of Anglican or biblical principle, however sincere its motivation. He calls us all to continue to “journey together in honest conversation, in faith, hope, and love, as we seek to… further the reign of God”.
Finally, looking in another way to the future of the Church, Jacqui Wilkinson shares the fruits of her recent research into primary school children’s attitudes to Christianity, arguing that encouragement to prayer must be a prime value for teachers and Christian parents alike. The issue concludes with our book reviews.