Tribalism And The Churches


Sir, - Patsy McGarry's article Two Tribes (Weekend, July 7th), is to be commended to all your readers. As a lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, I have seen it move from a prominent place in the advance towards closer co-operation between the various denominations here and in the world to deplorable, retrograde steps towards isolation.

But I would appeal to your readers who live in the South to realise that this is not the whole picture. At various levels there have been remarkable movements, such as the Corrymeela Community and the Rostrevor Christian Renewal Centre, or, at the clerical level, groups such as our local ecumenical study group. These are all evidence of progress towards closer fellowship and understanding between our denominations.

Who would have thought some years ago that a Presbyterian minister would preach in a Roman Catholic cathedral, or that a member of the Benedictine order would present a new pulpit Bible at the centenary celebrations to a nearby Presbyterian church? The gift was graciously received by the then Moderator of Assembly, who happened to be a prominent Orangeman! Both events occurred recently in our own district.

On the broader field it must not be forgotten that in many parts of the North relationships between neighbours of different persuasions are of the friendliest nature.

Sometimes we say, "No news is good news", but in the eyes of the news media it could be changed to "good news is no news" to satisfy the appetites of the readers or listeners.

Finally, I would like to emphasise the perhaps shocking picture of our Lord on the Cross, reminding Christians that as the Messiah he chose not to overthrow the enemy but to conquer by self-sacrificial love. - Yours, etc.,

Rev G.B.G. McConnell, Warrenpoint, Co Down.