‘An Occasion To Remember’ Dean Of Connor

‘It was an occasion to remember’ The Dean of Connor, The Very Rev John FA Bond, rector of St. Patrick’s Broughshane, said after his recent trip to London. It was an honour and a privilege to represent the Church of Ireland at the Inaugural Service of the 10th General Synod of the Church of England at Westminster Abbey on Wednesday November 24.
Her Majesty the Queen opened the Synod in the presence of delegates including the Dean Of Connor, Dean Bond, who was on the platform for the proceedings. The Dean and his wife Joyce then attended an Ecumenical Lunch hosted by the Presidents of the Synod.
Dean Bond, who retires as rector of St. Patrick’s Broughshane in January after 48 years of ministry in Connor Diocese, was asked to attend the General Synod by the Standing Committee of the Church of Ireland.

Here, The Dean of Connor and rector of St. Patrick’s Broughshane shares his experiences of his visit to the 10th Inaugural General Service of the Church of England.

“It was a service and a day to remember. The Abbey was full and the security was discreet following the recent horrific and tragic events in Paris. Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh were received at the Great West door by the Dean and Chapter of Westminster. During the opening hymn “Christ is made the sure foundation” the procession moved to the east end of the Abbey.
Every five years the newly constituted Convocation of the House of Laity are summoned to an Inaugural Service of Holy Communion at Westminster Abbey. Afterwards they assemble in the Assembly Hall in Church Hall. By custom the Archbishop of York reads the Gospel at the inaugural service of a new Synod, on this occasion he invited the Bishop of Stockport, The Rt. Rev. Libby Lane, who in January became the first woman to ordained bishop in the Church of England, to do so. The Most Rev and Right Honourable Justin Welby Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan, presided and was the celebrant. The Address was given by Father Raniero Cantalamessa OFM Cap, Preacher to the Papal Household.

Dean of Connor the Very Rev John FA Bond
Dean Bond (in red) on the platform during Her Majesty’s opening address to the 10th Inaugural General Service of the Church of England. Photo: Andrew Dunsmore / Picture Partnership

The singing by the choir was inspirational, in an inspirational setting and added enormously to the powerful atmosphere. Following the sharing of The Peace the hymn “Come down O Love divine” was sung with great feeling and the Archbishop led the Eucharistic Prayer. When Holy Communion had been administered, the congregation remained seated to sing Graham Kendrick’s “Beauty for brokenness” and which seemed most appropriate against the backdrops of world events. After a period of silence the hymn “Glorious things of thee are spoken” was followed by the final blessing and the National Anthem.

Dean of Connor and rector of St Patrick's Broughshane
Dean Bond (in red) is just behind the Archbishop of Canterbury during the opening of the Synod. Photo: Andrew Dunsmore / Picture Partnership

What made the service special was the careful and thoughtful preparation put in by the Dean and Cathedral Staff, the Choir, the organist and the careful attention to detail. For me, it was a joy and privilege to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness and in the holiness of beauty on this significant occasion. The wonderful sense of reverence and thanksgiving was awesome in all the pomp and ceremony. With the representatives of the other churches and of ecumenical bodies I was sitting almost opposite the Queen and Prince Philip. My wife Joyce and the Chief Officer and Secretary of the R.C.B. Mr Adrian Clements and his wife Patricia were sitting three rows behind the Queen and the Duke.
Joyce and I were met with great kindness and courtesy and came away feeling that despite our theological idiosyncrasies we are all children of one Heavenly Father. We met some old friends and in the few days in London made many new ones. It was an occasion to remember and again my grateful thanks to the Standing Committee for the invitation to represent our Church. It was a wonderful ending to over 48 years in Parish Ministry!
P.S. I still hope a visit to General Synod by a senior royal will happen!!”
The Very Rev. John Bond, Dean of Connor