Sir, - As a practising member of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland I'd like to express my disappointment at a motion proposed during the recent Assembly. It was, and the following is a paraphrase or gist, something to the effect that any future Moderator should have the right - if conscience permits him or her not to be obliged to participate in an ecumenical service or gathering if he/she so feels, and to deny a replacement the right to do so in his/her place. I believe the motion was narrowly defeated.
This defeat represents a fundamental division in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, but I for one am glad that an elected moderator feels it's part of her/his brief and calling (on my behalf) to contribute to joint Christian services of worship. If it is a matter of conscience, it might be wise not to allow one's name to go forward in the first place.
However well meaning and conciliatory, the recent article in The Irish Times by George McCullagh and the TV documentary series by Rev John Dunlop both omitted, or failed to address an essential point: it's not that Northern Presbyterians or Anglicans need to be assuaged about how "the South" has moved on. They need to be reminded from visionaries within their own faiths that Christ did his best to disentangle love and charity from the accoutrements of religious superiority, and that some moving on needs to be done north of the Border.
Of course I am fully aware of the insurmountable walls of Calvin's Geneva of the mind, but there are some signs (despite divisions) that the Presbyterian Church in Ireland is beginning to minister to itself.
Finally, your readers may notice I haven't made any reference to Mr Ian Cox's paradoxical letter (June 7th) about Victorianism, "liberty", "civilising forces", "Papism" and "Protestant values". Someone else can do a bit of ministering on that one. Yours, etc.,