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The Church of Ireland

The Church Of Ireland
Press Release

   Synod Passes Motions from Sectarianism Report

Tuesday 18 May 1999

The Church of Ireland General Synod meeting at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham on Tuesday 18 May 1999 passed the following motions:

   1. The General Synod of the Church of Ireland recognises that from time to time confusion and controversy have attended the flying of flags on church buildings or within the grounds of church buildings. This Synod therefore resolves that the only flags specifically authorised to be flown on church buildings or within the church grounds of the Church of Ireland are the cross of St Patrick or, alternatively, the flag of the Anglican Communion bearing the emblem of the Compassrose. Such flags are authorised to be flown only on Holy Days and during the Octaves of Christmas, Easter, the Ascension of Our Lord and Pentecost, and on any other such day as may be recognised locally as the Dedication Day of the particular church building. Any other flag flown at any other time is not specifically authorised by this Church.

   2. The General Synod of the Church of Ireland adopts the following declaration with regard to its understanding of the historic formularies of the Church of Ireland:


The Church of Ireland is part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, worshipping the one true God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It professes the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds: which faith the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation. Led by the Holy Spirit, it has borne witness to Christian truth in its historic formularies, the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons and the Declaration prefixed to the Statutes of the Church of Ireland (1870).

These historic formularies are a definition of the faith as proclaimed by the Church of Ireland, and thus form an important part of the inheritance through which this Church has been formed in its faith and witness to this day. The formularies that have been passed on are part of a living tradition that today must face new challenges and grasp fresh opportunities.

Historic documents often stem from periods of deep separation between Christian Churches. Whilst, in spite of a real degree of convergence, distinct differences remain, negative statements towards other Christians should not be seen as representing the spirit of this Church today.

The Church of Ireland affirms all in its tradition that witnesses to the truth of the Gospel. It regrets that words written in another age and in a different context should be used in a manner hurtful to or antagonistic towards other Christians.

The Church of Ireland seeks the visible unity of the Church. In working towards that goal this Church is committed to reaching out towards other Churches in a spirit of humility and love, that together all Christians may grow towards unity in life and mission to the glory of God.

   3. This Synod fully endorses the efforts of the Archbishop of Armagh, the Diocese of Armagh and the Standing Committee of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland in their attempts to resolve the crisis at Drumcree. It calls upon the Rector and Select Vestry of Drumcree to endorse the pledges called for by the Archbishop of Armagh in respect of the conduct of those attending the annual parade by lodges of the Orange Order to Drumcree Parish Church. The pledges are as follows:
  • The avoidance of any action before or after the service which diminishes the sanctity of that worship.
  • Obedience to the law of the land before and after the service.
  • Respect for the integrity of the Church of Ireland by word and action and the avoidance of the use of all church property or its environs in any civil protest following the service.

This Synod further requests that should the Orange Lodges of the Portadown District decline to adhere to the pledges required by the Archbishop of Armagh, the invitation, established by custom, to the Lodges to attend Morning Service be withdrawn by the Rector and Select Vestry of Drumcree.

With the following amendment:

The Synod directs the Honorary Secretaries to forward copies of this resolution to the incumbent and to the Select Vestry of Drumcree.

All three motions were passed by a three quarters majority. Voting was by orders (clergy and laity voted separately). The House of Bishops voted publicly.

Return to General Synod 1999 Index

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