A Service of Reflection and Hope to mark the centenaries of the partition of Ireland and the formation of Northern Ireland will take place in Saint Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Armagh, on Thursday, 21 October 2021.
The service is being organised by the Church Leaders Group, as part of their wider programme of collective engagement around the 1921 centenaries, with an emphasis on their common Christian commitment to peace, healing and reconciliation.
Armagh has been chosen as the location due to its significance as Ireland’s ecclesiastical capital – a status which has its origins in the 5th Century when the present site of the Church of Ireland cathedral was presented to Saint Patrick for building his ‘great stone church’.
In a joint statement issued on Saint Patrick’s Day, the Church Leaders emphasised the need to 'be intentional in creating spaces for encounter with those who are different from us, and those who may feel marginalised in the narratives that have shaped our community identity’ and, in doing so, ’to face difficult truths about failings in our own leadership in the work of peace and reconciliation’.
This Christian act of worship will involve people from across the community, from diverse backgrounds and traditions, and with different beliefs and aspirations, coming together to pray for the healing of past hurts and to seek God’s guidance in a spirit of hope for the future. The ongoing risks of Covid-19 will restrict the space for in-person participation, but the service will be broadcast and local church communities will be invited to support the initiative in prayer.
At the heart of the Church Leaders’ joint engagements over the course of this year, in prayer, in dialogue and in collective outreach to the wider community, has been a focus on relationships. In their joint statement they say: ‘We find inspiration and encouragement in the progress that has been made through our peace process in building relations of mutual respect and trust across these islands. These relationships are often tested, and will at times be found wanting, but our communities have also demonstrated great resilience, solidarity and compassion, evident most recently in the response to Covid-19’.
This Service of Reflection and Hope is offered as a contribution to the work of building community and deepening relationships.
Photo: Pictured at St Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh are the members of the Church Leaders Group (Ireland). Left to Right: Presbyterian Moderator, Rt Rev Dr David Bruce, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, Rev Dr Sahr Yambasu, the President of the Irish Council of Churches, Very Rev Dr Ivan Patterson, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primates of All Ireland, the Most Rev John McDowell and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primates of All Ireland, the Most Rev Eamon Martin respectively.