than five years after being enthroned as Bishop of Connor at
Lisburn Cathedral the Right Rev Alan Harper has been elected
Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland by the House
of Bishops of the Church of Ireland.
His appointment was announced by the
Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Reverend Dr. John Neill who
described Bishop Harper as 'a man of deep faith, great
ability and pastoral insight'.
Dr. Neill said it gave him great personal
delight to make the announcement and added he and all the
Bishops were looking forward to "working in partnership with
Alan and under his leadership.
"I am certain he is the person that we
were guided by the Holy Spirit to elect to this office. He
will represent the Church of Ireland in situations in
Ireland and beyond with great courage and clarity, and it
will be a joy to work with him," he added.
The Primate-elect, who is married to Helen,
said he was "deeply humbled and honoured by the trust placed
in him by his colleagues. ' I pray that God will guide me in
fulfilling the responsibilities of the role of Archbishop of
Armagh. I am conscious of the privilege of serving the
Church in this role," he said. "I look forward to meeting
the people of my new diocese and those members of the Church
throughout the island of Ireland. "As I look forward, I also
express sincere gratitude to the clergy and people of the
diocese of Connor, where I have served for 22 years, the
last six years as Bishop.
"They have nurtured me and welcomed me
and my family into their homes and parishes, sharing both
joys and sorrows."
The Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor
Right Reverend Dr. Patrick Walsh offered his "sincere and
prayerful best wishes to Bishop Harper and his wife.
"His spiritual and pastoral qualities with
his wide experience as Bishop of Connor make him a most
fitting choice for the new responsibilities which will be
his as he assumes the leadership of the Church of Ireland, a
leadership which he will exercise with that thoughtfulness
and humanity which marked his Episcopal ministry during his
years in Connor," Dr. Walsh added.
The new Archbishop was born in Tamworth on
March 20 1944. He was educated at Moorgate County Primary
School, and then The Grammar School of Queen Elizabeth,
Queen of England, Tamworth, Staffordshire.
He studied Geography at Leeds University
being awarded a BA Hons in 1965.
During the academic year 1965/66 he was
University Map Curator and Departmental Librarian in the
Department of Geography at the university.
In July 1966 he was appointed a member of
the Archaeological Survey of Northern Ireland (subsequently
the Historic Monuments Inspectorate) as Field Officer and
subsequently Senior Inspector of Historic Monuments.
In 1974 he took up a post as Principal
Assistant Planning Officer (Archaeology and Environment) in
the Planning Department of Staffordshire County Council
before entering the University of Dublin (Trinity College)
in 1975 to study for the Testimonium in Divinity, awarded in
Bishop Harper was ordained deacon in 1978
and priested in 1979.
He began his ministry in Northern Ireland
undertaking his curacy at Ballywillan in Connor diocese from
In 1980 he moved to Derry diocese to be
incumbent of Moville and then became incumbent of Christ
Church in the Maiden City from 1982-1986.
He became incumbent of the Parish of
Malone in 1986 where he remained until 2002.
During this time he was also appointed
Examining Chaplain to the Bishop of Connor (1986-2002),
Rural Dean of South Belfast (19891996), Prebendary of St
Audoen, St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin (1990-2001) and
Director of Post Ordination Training (1990-2001).
From 1999-2002 he was also Archdeacon of
Connor and Precentor of St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast.
Meeting on December 17 2001, the
Episcopal Electoral College elected him Bishop of Connor in
succession to Bishop James Moore.
He was consecrated on March 18 2002 in St
Anne's Cathedral, Belfast.
His enthronement took place in Christ
Church Cathedral, Lisburn several weeks later on April 25.
The House of Bishops decided this week
his election as Archbishop would take effect from February