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Ecumenical Canons to be installed at Belfast Cathedral

Press Releases

Added on 26/03/2010

St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast

History will be made on Sunday coming -- Palm Sunday, 28 March 2010 -- when the first Ecumenical Canons at St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast will be installed by the Dean, the Very Revd Dr Houston McKelvey, at the beginning of the Palm Sunday evening service at 3.30 pm. Dean McKelvey said, 'The Cathedral Chapter were delighted when the Revd Wilfred Orr and the Revd Ivan McElhinney accepted our invitation. Both our new canons have exemplary records of inter-church dialogue and practice, and both represent the very best of their own denomination's standards and values in ordained ministry.'

The Revd Wilfred Orr, Minister of St John's Presbyterian Church, Belfast, and the Revd Ivan McElhenney, a former President of the Methodist Church in Ireland and minister of Joanmount Methodist Church, will be presented by the Ven. Philip Patterson, Archdeacon of Down who is the Chancellor of the cathedral, and the Ven. Barry Dodds, Archdeacon of Belfast who is the Precentor of the cathedral.

Also taking part in the service will be the Very Revd Dr Hugh Kennedy of St Peter’s Cathedral, Belfast, the partner Cathedral of St Anne's.

The Revd Wilfred Orr is married to Jennifer, a school teacher, whom he met in Scotland. They have four children: the older two now involved with music in the Church of England and Scottish Episcopal Church. An Old Campbellian, he completed an Arts Degree from Q.U.B. and theological training at Union College, then graduating from St Andrews University and Princeton Theological Seminary in the USA.

After a brief time in administration in Church House, Mr Orr served for six years in the linked congregations of Hyde Park and Lylehill, County Antrim, before being installed in Newtownbreda (St John’s) in 1983. He has held a number of General Assembly appointments, and currently serves on the executive committee of the Trustees of the Presbyterian Church. His ministry in the Ballynafeigh area has always had an enthusiastic inter-church element; active in membership of the Ballynafeigh Clergy Fellowship and helping to establish 'Ormeau Churches Together'. He served for twelve years on the management committee of Holy Rosary Primary School, part of that time as vice-chairman. Beyond the local area, he has represented the wider Church with Monsignor Tom Toner in a short tour in the USA. and attended an Ulster Project Conference more recently in St Louis. He has been guest preacher at the Ecumenical Service for Pentecost in St Patrick’s Church, Donegall Street, in Clonard during the novena and in the University of St Andrews. He has served for some time as a chaplain to the SE area Belfast Scouts, and as a chaplain in the Order of St John. Wilfred’s interests include hill walking, sailing and cars of a certain vintage.

The Revd R. Ivan McElhinney was born on a farm in the hills of Donegal near Donegal Town. He attended Drumnahoul National School and Donegal Vocational School. For a few years he managed his own sheep on the family farm and later worked in Magees Tweed Factory, Donegal Town.

He studied Theology in Sheffield, Belfast and Birmingham and completed his training for the Ministry in the West Indies. He was ordained by the Conference of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas in 1976. Returning to Ireland in 1980 he has held pastoral appointments in West Fermanagh, Ballynahinch, Glengormley, Mountpottinger and currently at Joanmount in North Belfast.

Appointments he has held include: General Secretary of the Methodist Missionary Society (Ireland), District Superintendent of the Down and Belfast Districts of the Methodist Church, currently co-chair of the Council of Christians and Jews (Northern Ireland), Lord Mayor’s Chaplain of Belfast on three occasions and President of the Methodist Church in Ireland 2006/07.

His wife Phyllis (a nurse) was baptised and confirmed in St Jude's Parish Church, Belfast. They have three sons and five granddaughters. Ivan is proud to have attended a Church of Ireland Sunday School in Copany Barnnear the home farm where he learnt the Prayer Book Catechism.

He has always been keen on ecumenical activities both in the Caribbean and in  Ireland, has preached in St. Peter’s Cathedral, Belfast and is a member of the BT14 Clerical Group in North Belfast. He has had a long association with the Ulster Project and has spoken at an Ulster Project Conference in the USA.


Prior to Sunday, contact the Dean:

Very Revd Dr Houston McKelvey

Dean of Belfast
Belfast Cathedral
Donegall Street
Belfast BT1 2HB

Tel - 028 9032 8332
Mob - 07802207825


Church of Ireland
For further information please contact: 
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Belfast, BT1 2QH
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