Report by the Rev Clifford Skillen
The Retired Clergy Association (Northern Ireland) recently held its first meeting of the year in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast.
The guest speaker was the Rev Andrew Totten MBE, CF, who, after a curacy in St Mark’s, Newtownards from 1990-1994, spent the rest of his ministry in Army chaplaincy.
Following the talk, the Association held its annual general meeting.
The RCA’s chairman, Canon Ken Smyth, welcomed members and led the opening prayers. He also recalled that Mr Totten had served his curacy in Newtownards when he (Canon Smyth) was rector there.
Mr Totten focused on his work as an army chaplain and gave members a fascinating personal insight into his service and experiences ‘on the ground’ in Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.
His final post as Principal of the Armed Forces’ Chaplaincy Centre involved the creation of a new museum at the Defence Academy in Oxfordshire.
Mr Totten also reflected on the ethical and moral considerations of war, including the just war theory, by examining the three dominical commands of love for God, neighbour and enemy through an insightful study of the parable of the Good Samaritan.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Following light refreshments, the annual general meeting was opened by Canon Smyth who spoke of the initial fear of the demise of the Association after a long, Covid-enforced layoff. However, he was glad to report that the Association was now in ‘good heart’ and, in ‘connecting with those with whom we have much in common and renewing friendships and fellowship,’ there were ‘grounds for optimism that the Association would go from strength to strength.’
Short reports were presented by the Honorary Secretary, the Ven Donald McLean, and the Honorary Treasurer, the Ven John Scott.
Following appointments and elections, the new RCA committee comprises as follows: Chairman, Canon Jim Campbell; Honorary Secretary, the Ven Donald McLean; Honorary Treasurer, the Ven John Scott; the Rev Mercia Flanagan; Canon Raymond Fox; Canon Walter Laverty; the Rev Clifford Skillen; Canon Ken Smyth and the Rt Rev Trevor Williams.