Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Church of Ireland

At Dignam's funeral in Hades, I couldn't help but notice the mention of the Church of Ireland ("The service of the Irish church used in Mount Jerome is simpler, more impressive I must say."). The minor mention made me wonder which church, exactly, Mr. Kernan was referring to. The Gifford only describes it as the Irish counterpart to the Church of England, disestablished in 1869. I looked a little further into the matter and found that although the Church has been deprived of governmental support for over a century, it still exists today with 350,000 members throughout Ireland. Under the "Who We Are" section of their website (, the Church of Ireland:
  • is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion which has 70 million members in 164 countries.
  • is an apostolic church, maintaining an unbroken link with the early apostles and drawing on the apostolic faith in its teaching and worship.
  • is a Catholic and Reformed church.
  • is able to trace its roots to the earliest days of Irish Christianity.
  • is a church with three orders of sacred ministry - Bishops, Priests and Deacons.
  • has services which follow an accepted liturgical form and structure.
  • has one prayer book - The Book of Common Prayer (2004) - plus other services authorised for use by the General Synod.
  • keeps a balance in doctrine and worship between Word and Sacrament.
  • has the Holy Communion or the Eucharist as its central act of worship.
  • is one church embracing Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
  • has 350,000 members - 275,000 in Northern Ireland and 75,000 in the Republic of Ireland.
  • has two provinces, Armagh and Dublin, each with an Archbishop.
  • has 12 dioceses, 466 parochial units and 528 stipendiary clergy.
  • is a representative church, with each diocese electing those who will represent them at the General Synod, the 'Parliament' of the church.
  • has in its General Synod a House of Bishops which has 12 members and a House of Representatives which has 216 clergy and 432 laity.
  • also has Diocesan Synods where representatives of the parishes meet usually once a year.
  • has a parochial system where decisions at local level are made by Select Vestries whose lay members are elected each Easter by the people of the parish.

What was most interesting in their description of themselves (to me, at least) was the sublink on the Church of Ireland being both a Catholic and Reformed church-they seem to be able to look to a blend of the two religions to form the basis of their Church, which is definitely a different approach to matters.


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