The following is in this week’s Church of Ireland Gazette
Following a letter I wrote to the Gazette last year concerning the anonymous website Irish Angle, I was contacted by Mr Sandy Woods of Bangor who set out why he believed some websites were anonymous. Whilst I might disagree with Mr Woods, I would be concerned at the suggestion he made to me in a more recent telephone conversation that anonymity was sought by some people because they were afraid of what might happen if they expressed opinions openly.
Covert comment, anonymous attacks and deep division did not used to characterize the Church of Ireland. In times past there may have been substantial theological differences and robust exchanges of views, but these were open and honest and grounded in mutual respect for one another. I never heard of anyone being afraid to express their views in public for fear of action being taken against them.
I talk to friends in various places who tell of people coming back to
church and congregations once more growing after years of decline; against such a background it would be sad to miss God given opportunities because the labourers are arguing amongst themselves. At a time when there is talk about the struggle to maintain Anglican unity, might we also attend to the need to maintain Church of Ireland unity? If there are evangelical clergy who feel intimidated into anonymity, then we have lost the gift we once possessed of holding ourselves together.
I have not been a General Synod member for fifteen years, but might there be some synod member who would propose a resolution affirming the oneness of our church and our willingness to listen to one another?
Will it make any difference?