The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Ken Good, has ordained two new deacons for the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe. The new Deacon-Interns are Rev Derek Harrington and Rev Stuart Reid. Rev Harrington will serve as full-time stipendiary deacon in the Parishes of Derg and Termonamongan while Rev Reid will serve as part-time stipendiary deacon in the Parish of Faughanvale.
The service was the first major church service in St Columb’s Cathedral since the installation of the Very Rev Raymond Stewart as Dean of Derry in March. There were scores of people in church for today’s ordinations, which Dean Stewart played a prominent role in organising.
Clergy from the two deacons’ new parishes took part in the service. The Rev Naomi Quinn, Curate Assistant in Derg and Termonamongan, read the Old Testament Reading while the Rector of Faughanvale, Rev Paul Hoey, read the Epistle. The Gospel was read by Dean Stewart.
The Preacher was the Priest-in-Charge of the Parishes of Fahan Upper and Fahan Lower, Rev Judi McGaffin, who said that if the two candidates were anything like she was at their stage of the journey into ministry, they hadn’t a clue what was in store for them. Big changes were afoot in society and in the Church, she said, and the two candidates were about to be ordained for a very tough job.
“I come from a background working in the health service for some 36 years,” Rev McGaffin said. “A very wise man, who also happened to be a dentist – the two things are not mutually exclusive – told me, as he appointed me to my first senior post in this city some 32 years ago, to remember three things: always practice teamwork, communication and do so with humility. I tried to apply that to my secular work and then, when I myself was ordained, the wise words seemed so right as I struggled with the job spec that I was faced with as a deacon.”
Rev McGaffin told the candidates that Bishop Good was ordaining them with a vast job specification: to help change the church; to go out into the world as Jesus did; to search out the poor and weak, the sick and lonely, those who are oppressed and powerless, and those who’ve been forgotten; to be their friend and enjoy their company; to show them that they matter as people and to love them in wholeness and into wholeness as Jesus did.
“It might seem like you’re taking on an impossible task,” the Preacher said, “and if looked at in purely secular terms you might well be. But looking at it through the lens where God is the focal point, then the task does, indeed, become possible.” Comparing ministry to DIY, Rev McGaffin told the new deacons that they had the maker’s instructions – a sort of manual – in the Bible. “Use it wisely as you start this next phase of your ministry journey. Teamwork and communication with humility – all part of the manual. This, for sure, isn’t a fancy new and modern, managerial and secular way of looking at things. It’s based in the Bible and God-centred.”
“At the heart of your road to ordination is calling, and then responding, as in the reading from Isaiah. As with Isaiah, you listened, and heard and responded. That’s perfect communication,” Rev McGaffin said. She told the new deacons to pray every day pray, to listen and respond as they served those to whom God had sent them.
Rev McGaffin said the Epistle – from St Paul’s letter to the Romans – was about how we were all part of a team, and that team included God himself. The new deacons’ task was to see themselves as God saw them, and to live that out alongside others in the church, each living out their own role. “You are there to use your God-given talents and to help others to unlock theirs, so that the Church can grow and God’s kingdom can come on earth as it is in heaven.”
The Preacher directed the two candidates to the Gospel reading from Mark, Chapter 10, in which Jesus told his apostles, ‘Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant’. “To be great is to be a servant,” she said. Teamwork, communication and humility weren’t just for the new deacons, they were for everyone in the congregation, Rev McGaffin said, as they played their part in helping and encouraging Rev Harrington and Rev Reid in their new roles.
Members of an inter-church group from Bavaria arrived in the Cathedral just as the service was coming to end end. The group - which consisted of Protestant and Roman Catholic Church members - held a brief, impromptu conversation with Bishop Good, during which they asked a number of questions about the Church of Ireland.
Music for today’s service was provided by Acting Organist Dr Derek Collins and the Choristers of St Columb’s Cathedral. Afterwards, members of the congregation enjoyed refreshments at St Augustine’s Church Hall.