Spring 2014

Editorial

A mixed bag for SEARCH this spring, with a view forward to May’s General Synod, in Ethne Harkness’ article exploring current reflections on the proper role of bishops, and a look back to the autumn, following the Bishop of Connor to the World Council of Churches Assembly in Busan. But undoubtedly the big event of the autumn was the election of the Revd Patricia Storey as Bishop of Meath and Kildare, after Dublin and Armagh, the most senior position in the Church of Ireland. “Call me Pat,” was her simple response as to how she was to be addressed, even if she had to accede to being called “Madam Bishop” on formal occasions. It’s a sign of her no-nonsense attitude that she has released an article she wrote about her vocation five years ago, until now unpublished, so that SEARCH readers can share some of her journey into Christian ministry and leadership in the Church of Ireland.
Another important matter for the May Synod, and also for June’s Methodist Conference, will be the vote to confirm that the Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church will from now on accept each other’s ministers. Warm thanks to Rev Barry Forde, as secretary of the C of I – Methodist Covenant Council, for his summing-up of the process and its resolution of the issues describing his personal experience of sharing ministry with his Methodist colleague. Also in this issue, we have a report from Rev. Adrian Stringer and Dr Abby Day of a recent conference in Canterbury which addressed issues threatening to divide the Anglican Communion. This is complemented by a look at the source of divisions within Islam – a faith with probably as many “denominations” as Christianity and with two major traditions. Nearer home, Malcolm Macourt contributes a consideration of the “religious” element of Irish Censuses of Population of 2011, which show a decline of self-identifying Anglicans in the North and a corresponding rise, occasionally a dramatic one, in the South. Or do they? And on a more general level, Noel Coghlan takes a questioning look at 21st century attitudes in Ireland, asking “Whatever happened to Civic Morality?” This issue’s Book Reviews are the last to be provided by our editor of the past eight years, David Hutchinson Edgar. Warmest thanks to him from his diligent and reliable work and good wishes for his new endeavours in primary education. We welcome the Revd Stephen Farrell as Reviews editor for what we hope will be a long tenure.

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