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Friday 6th June, 2008
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Letters to the Editor

175th anniversary of Oxford Movement

Many Gazette readers will be interested to learn that, to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Oxford Movement, a day of prayer will be held in churches throughout the Anglican Communion. This will be on Monday 14th July, and we are asked to observe an hour of silent prayer that day, with the theme ‘Christ, our Future’.

The event is being organised by fifteen ‘Catholic’ societies within the Church; I am one of the few Church of Ireland members of two of these bodies: the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, and the Society of Mary.

It should be remembered that the Oxford Movement brought back liturgical order and dignity to Anglicanism at a time when worship was largely a social formality, lacking in depth of devotion. Half a century earlier, the Wesleys also had sought, by different means, to address this serious deficiency.

The use of colour and ritual, with incense, candles and vestments, was not the prime aim, but the restoration of deep spiritualty was the principal achievement of Pusey, Newman and the other founders of the Oxford Movement. The insistence of placing the Eucharist at the centre of Anglican worship was paramount.

In recent times, the development of liturgy in the Church of Ireland, culminating in the superb Book of Common Prayer 2004, owes much to the influence of the Oxford Movement, and it is my hope that many clergy and lay people will observe the anniversary on 14th July.

Martin White (Canon)

50 Mullaghbane Road

Armagh

BT61 9HW

The missionary legacy of the Church of Ireland in China

On behalf of the Dublin University Far Eastern Mission (DUFEM), I wish to thank Dr Ian Welch for highlighting the missionary legacy of the Church of Ireland in Fujian Province in the nineteenth century (Gazette, 16th May, Letters, page 7).

The Dublin University Fukien Mission (now DUFEM) was established in 1885 to foster and promote the development of Christianity in China. The influence of the Church of Ireland in these endeavours can be seen in the succession of three Irish bishops who served the Anglican communities in China. In the twentieth century, it was these Irish bishops and missionaries who tirelessly campaigned for an indigenous Chinese Church, a progressive idea favouring a self-governing Church that was truly Chinese in both language and character.

The witness of Irish missionary partners in Fujian, however, was not simply a nineteenth century legacy, but something which continues into the present day. A delegation from DUFEM attended the centenary celebration for Fuzhou Foreign Language School last November. The school was founded in 1907 by young DUFEM missionaries as Trinity College Fuzhou. The school was headed by the DUFEM educationalist, missionary pioneer and dramatist, Canon W.S. Pakenham- Walsh, who spent over twenty years in China. In the autumn, a graduate from Trinity College, Stephen Hennessey, will help to restore the historic link between the two institutions when he travels to Fuzhou to spend the next year teaching English in the school.

In addition to a commitment to building relationships in China, DUFEM is active at home in promoting the interests of the Chinese community in Ireland. The recent report jointly commissioned by DUFEM entitled Mainland Chinese Students and Immigrants in Ireland and Their Engagement with Christianity, Churches and Irish Society showed how the efforts of DUFEM were both ongoing and relevant. Copies of the report can be attained from the address below.

As DUFEM enters its 123rd year, it is timely of Dr Welch to remind us of the missionary contribution of the Church of Ireland in the past. The spirit of partnership and solidarity inaugurated by missionaries like the Smylys and Stewarts is still alive today.

Eimhin J. Walsh

Student Secretary

Dublin University

Far Eastern Mission

Box 47 Regents House

Trinity College

Dublin 2