Friday 29th June 2007
new Bishop is a team builder who shares ministry and allows
those around him space to find their own giftings, guests at
the consecration of Bishop Alan Abernethy were told. The
Rev Helen Houston, preacher at the service in St Anne's
Cathedral on Friday June 29, said the people of Connor had a
new friend and listener. Chaplain of St Rocco's Hospice in
Warrington, Cheshire, Rev Houston worked with the new Bishop
in his former parish of Ballyholme from 2002 until 2004.
Commenting that the consecration was taking place on the
25th anniversary of Bishop Abernethy's ordination, the theme
of Rev Houston's address was hands ' based on John 21 verses
15 ' 17, 'Hands minister and receive grace, helping us to
participate in God's story.' She said the Bishop was
wearing an episcopal ring he was honoured to receive from
the family of the late Bishop of Connor, Jimmy Moore.
'On this ring, Alan has had inscribed
the question Jesus posed Simon Peter: 'Do you love me''
reminding himself that God's call today is firstly a call to
relationship with God through Christ, and then, flowing from
that, comes his calling to be a Bishop,' Rev Houston said.
'Those of us who know Alan, and who've worked and worshipped
with him would want to testify to the importance of Alan's
relationship with God. Faith really is the bedrock and
foundation on which his life and ministry are built,' she
Houston said the new Bishop was also not afraid of saying 'I
don't know'. 'Like Peter he is comfortable to be seen as a
man making sense of the love of God in a contrary world. He
allows you to see the struggles, the weaknesses, the joins
in the jar of clay where the light seeps through untidily,'
Rev Houston said. 'As a leader you will find Alan to be a
team builder who shares ministry and allows those around him
to have the space to find their own giftings. He will
support and affirm you, clergy and lay leaders alike. He is
always prepared to hear the views of others and to work with
difference and conflict. He's fair-minded, he's fun, he's
loyal, and treats all people with respect and without
'For also dominant in Alan's ministry
is the image of a God of lavish and unconditional love. And
it is this image which informs both his teaching and his
practice as a Christian.' Rev Houston added: 'To plagarise
St.Augustine, Alan will be a 'Christian with you and a
Bishop for you.''
Twelve bishops of the Church of Ireland
assisted the Archbishop of Armagh, Most Rev Alan Harper, at
the service of consecration. They were joined by three
bishops from Kenya, Sweden and Scotland.
part in the service were Dom Mark Ephraim, OSB of Rostrevor,
Most Rev Dr John Neill, Archbishop of Dublin, and Rt. Rev
Jeremiah Taama, Bishop of Kajaido, Kenya, whose diocese has
a partnership with Ballyholme Parish where Canon Abernethy
was rector prior to his appointment as Bishop.
During the service the Dean of Connor,
Very Rev John Bond received a mandate from the House of
Bishops to install the new Bishop in Lisburn Cathedral at a
later date, and the Dean of Belfast, Very Rev Dr Houston
McKelvey installed the Bishop in St Anne's. Following the
act of installation the Cathedral Choir sang the canticle
'Jubilate' to a new arrangement composed for the occasion by
Philip Stopford, Director of Music. A music group from
Ballyholme Parish also took part in the service.
the close of the service Archbishop Harper presented Bishop
Abernethy with a new episcopal crozier for Connor diocese,
replacing the existing ornate crozier which will later be
placed on display in St Anne's. During the service the new
Bishop put on his Episcopal ring, a gift from the family of
the late Bishop of Connor, Jimmy Moore.
Connor Diocese has links with Linkoping
Diocese in Sweden and the Diocese of Edinburgh. Bishop
Martin Lind of Linkoping took part in the service. Canon
Fred Tomlinson represented Bishop Brian Smith who preached
at the Connor ordination service in St Anne's a few weeks
ago. Rt Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, was
also present. Bishop Tony Farquhar of Down and Connor, Very
Rev Dr Hugh Kennedy of St.Peter's Cathedral, and the
President of the Methodist Church, Rev Roy Cooper, were the
principal ecumenical guests.
More than 150 diocesan readers and
clergy and 600 laity accepted invitations to be present at
the service. Many later retired to the nearby University of
Ulster building for a reception organised by the diocese.