Members of the Irish Inter Church Committee pay tribute to Archbishop Harper’s ministry
Added on 28/09/2012
The Most Revd Alan Harper, retiring Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, joined members of the Irish Inter Church Committee yesterday, Thursday 27 September, in Dundalk for their quarterly meeting. Members spoke with warmth of the Archbishop’s contribution to ecumenism and wished him every blessing in his retirement.
‘Your ministry was was typified by gentleness, humility and fairness. You listened and helped others to learn how to listen. You shaped the tone of the discussion and allowed all sides to be heard. This set you part from the cacophony of voices that often mark political and social dialogue in Ireland,’ said Fr Godfrey O’Donnell, President of the ICC.
Dr Donald Watts, Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and ICC Vice President spoke of Archbishop Harper’s diplomacy and his fine–tuned ability to enable churches to work together. He has made an ‘immense contribution to church and civil society at a time of social transition when leadership was needed,’ he said, and continued to say that he was able to ‘say the hard things in a gentle way’ and had a ‘powerful intellect’ that will be missed.
Gillian Kingston, Lay Leader of the Methodist Church in Ireland, described the Archbishop as a ‘model of grace’ and as a ‘truly gifted preacher’ who had greatly influenced the Methodist–Anglican covenant.
Bishop Tony Farquhar spoke of Archbishop Harper being ‘the same man when he was a curate as he is now as an Archbishop,’ going on to say that he always brought ‘qualities of gentleness and humility and was characterised by his deep sensitivity’ to others. ‘He was a joy to work with and showed us all how to walk humbly with our God,’ the bishop concluded.