An inclusive farewell

Friday cat-blogging will have to wait – in favour of reporting on the Thanksgiving Service for Archbishop Eames’ 20 years as Primate of the Church of Ireland.  It was an extraordinary event – a real gathering of the Church of Ireland but even more a remarkable drawing together of the strands of Irish life, North and South.  It’s not every set of intercessions which are led by people as diverse as Lord Caledon, President Mary McAleese, Archbishop Sean Brady  … as well as an all-age group of people from the Church of Ireland.  Archbishop Eames has a quite remarkable ability to permeate the life of the diverse communities at every level.  Many tributes were paid last night.  One struck home to me.  He has been a significant person in my own ministry – my institution in Seagoe in 1986 was his last as Bishop of Down and Dromore – he kindly came and preached at my consecration in Perth.  I have seen him dealing with good times and bad.  But I have never seen him ruffled – have never seen him speak impatiently or in anger to anyone.  They won’t, alas, say the same about me.  So for Archbishop Robin and the remarkable Lady Christine, a well-deserved retirement and, for the Church of Ireland, a need almost to redefine itself in the post-Eames era.