Thursday, June 25, 2009

An Institution

This has been a week for big ecclesiastical gatherings. From a country Presbyterian church on Sunday night, I found myself in quite different surroundings on Monday evening, at the Institution of Adrian Dorrian as the new Rector of the Parish of St Peter and St James. While historically there were two churches, St James' closed last year, now used by the Orthodox community, so the service of institution was in St Peter's, on the Antrim Road.

The service was led by the Bishop of Connor, Alan Abernethy, and accompanied by a strong choir and organ, who sang elements of the Holy Communion service throughout the evening. The preacher was Ken Smyth, Adrian's former Rector in St Mark's Newtownards, and I was privileged to read the Gospel reading.

Interestingly, as I had noted about the Presbyterian Licensing, the declarations were signed during the service rather than before (as at my ordination), the declarations by Adrian had been taken (and witnessed) before the service, but only signed during the service, at the appropriate point. Does this help the flow of the service, or is it a strange intrusion which would be done without? While some might see it as unhelpful, it's probably a good thing, as it highlights that there are certain standards and beliefs necessary for ordained and instituted clergy to hold and profess. The declaration was even printed in the order of service, on the inside back page, so that everyone could see what had been declared and signed.

A large congregation was gathered to welcome Adrian to his new parish, with many from his former diocese of Down and Dromore. When Anglicans become Roman Catholics, it is said that they have crossed the Tiber. Adrian has crossed a much more significant river, the Lagan, from the Diocese of Down and Dromore to the Diocese of Connor! It's also significant that the first of my college contemporaries has been instituted to his own parish. Two others have been appointed and not instituted, and it probably won't be long until many more are sought out and called. It's too far away yet to be thinking about leaving Dundonald - lots to be getting on with here.

Please do pray for Adrian as he moves from being Curate to being Rector, and as he settles into the new (huge) rectory in North Belfast.

(No photos from the institution as I didn't have a chance to take any myself, and none have appeared on the Connor website.)

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