Belfast Telegraph

Church of Ireland Gazette new editor: 'I won't be drawn on same-sex marriage'

By Alf McCreary

The new editor of the Church of Ireland Gazette has refused to be drawn on his views on same-sex marriage, insisting the publication should be regarded as an avenue for discussion for all.

Rev Earl Storey was speaking to the Belfast Telegraph a week after the church's General Synod exposed an apparent north-south divide in terms of the issue.

It voted by 176 to 146 to reject a proposal which was aimed at developing a public thanksgiving service for legally married same-sex couples. There were 24 abstentions. Almost every speaker against the motion was from Northern Ireland.

But Rev Storey denied the church is divided on north-south lines on the matter.

"The Church of Ireland is as committed as it ever has been to being an all-Ireland Church, spanning both jurisdictions," Rev Storey said.

"The core of my previous work as director of the Church of Ireland Hard Gospel Project was concerned with dealing with difference constructively and in a way that encouraged good relationships. The fact that we are not a Church that has monochrome opinions does not suggest a north-south divide, just because we are existing in two jurisdictions."

Rev Storey, who will take up the editor post on June 1, said he wants the Church of Ireland Gazette to continue to be "an avenue for comment and discussion".

"I don't want to personalize it with my own views. When it was established in 1856, the Gazette committed itself to the Christian faith in accordance with the docrtrines of the Church of Ireland," he said.

The Church's teaching is that marriage is the union between a man and a woman, and it does not approve of same-sex marriage.

Rev Storey will succeed Canon Ian Ellis, the rector of Newcastle Co Down, who has edited the Gazette for the past sixteen years.

He was ordained in 1982 and has served in a number of parishes in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, including Glenavy and also Crinken in Dublin.

When in Glenavy, he wrote the book Traditional Roots, which was about the Orange Order and the Church of Ireland, and as a result windows in the rectory were smashed. He said: "It was reflecting on an issue that was difficult at that time. The Orange Order had nothing to do with it, and some of the first people to visit me were local members."

Rev Storey moved to Maynooth in Co Kildare three years ago after living in Londonderry, where his wife Pat was the Rector of St Augustine's Parish. She is now Bishop Pat Storey of the Diocese of Meath and Kildare and was the first female bishop to be ordained in the Church of Ireland and the British Isles three years ago.

A spokesman for the Church of Ireland said: "The newly-appointed editor will not only be able to build on the legacy of the Gazette, but will also bring his unique combination of communications skills and experience of wider church matters to his role.

"He will be working closely with a new editorial advisory committee which is tasked with supporting the editor in developing a fresh vision for a vibrant modern journal which is designed to appeal to readers of all ages and interests."

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