The Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, joined the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, the Most Revd Alan Harper, OBE to welcome His Eminence Metropolitan John, Archbishop of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe, to Armagh.
Archbishop Harper and Bishop Abernethy met with Metropolitan John and a delegation of Antiochian Orthodox representatives, including local Antiochian Orthodox priest Fr Irenaeus and new deacon designate Paul Totten, at Church House, Armagh, on Thursday November 20.
The meeting came in advance of a service of Hierarchical Vespers in St Ignatius’ Church, Cliftonville Road, Belfast – formerly the Church of Ireland parish of St James – on Saturday November 22 and an exhibition of Orthodox icons which is now showing in the church.
Archbishop Harper said: “I have much pleasure in welcoming His Eminence Metropolitan John and his party of visitors to Ireland and to the ancient see of Armagh in particular. I rejoice in Mr Totten’s ordination and the events in St Ignatius’s Church and I look forward to welcoming an Antiochian Orthodox presence at the Church of Ireland’s General Synod in the future. Antioch is one of the great sees of the early Church and our meeting today is a moment of ecumenical significance.”
After a tour of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh and the Armagh Public Library, Archbishop Harper presented Metropolitan John with a personal and unique gift of the copy of the Church of Ireland Book of Common Prayer which Archbishop Harper had received on the occasion of its launch in 2004. It is signed by all the bishops who were present on that occasion including the Archbishops of Canterbury and Armagh.