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International peacemaker for Waikato party

For immediate release March 10, 2006

International peacemaker pops in for Waikato Anglicans’ party

Waikato’s Anglicans are relishing meeting with the guests of honour at celebrations to mark the 80th birthday of their diocese this weekend.

Among those guests is The Most Rev. Robin Eames, the Archbishop of Armagh, in Northern Ireland – who is, without doubt, one of the most significant Anglican leaders on the planet.

According to the Bishop of Waikato, The Rt Rev. David Moxon, Archbishop Eames represents “some of the most courageous and interesting dimensions in the Anglican Communion. His visit with us for the weekend is a once-in-a-lifetime birthday gift.”

Dr Eames has played a crucial role in ending “The Troubles”, and instigating the Peace Process in Northern Ireland.

Dr Eames, who had trained as a lawyer, first came to attention as a curate in east Belfast in the early sixties, when he rescued a Catholic girl from a Loyalist mob who had set her family home on fire.

His gifts for leadership quickly became apparent. In 1975, aged 38, he was ordained a bishop, and in 1986 he became the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland.

In his years as bishop and archbishop he became a central figure in the difficult birthing of a new, non-violent Ireland, and he became the confidant of prime ministers, politicians, world figures – and “the hard men” of either side of Ireland’s sectarian divide.

Lord Eames is also a highly significant figure within the worldwide Anglican Church, central to efforts to keep the unity of the communion.

The Church turned to Archbishop Eames to chair the Commission on the Ordination of Women, and turned to him again to preside over a commission searching to find a solution to the crisis over homosexuality, which has threatened to divide the church.

Dr Eames has been described as “the divine optimist”, and in a 2004 interview he was quoted as saying: “If Ian Paisley can be willing to share power with Sinn Fein, can liberals in the Church be persuaded to preserve communion with their conservative counterparts?”

Dr Eames and Lady Christine Eames (who is also a significant figure in international Anglicanism) will meet members of the diocese tonight at Ngaruawahia Christian Camp; he will then give a private address tomorrow to Waikato Anglicans on his perceptions of the future of the church; and he and Lady Eames will deliver the sermon at a Sunday eucharist to be held at Waikato Diocesan School for Girls at 11am.

Dr and Lady Eames – who is a former President of the World Wide Mothers’ Union – are not the only guests of honour at the celebrations.

Bishop David and Bishop Philip Richardson will also be hosting Bishop Datuk Made Katib and his dean from Kuching, in Malaysia (The Diocese of Kuching is linked to the Diocese of Waikato in much the same way that sister cities are linked); Bishop Api Qiliho, of Fiji – who has long associations with Waikato; and Bishop George Connor of Dunedin.

Bishop Connor, who is the senior Pakeha bishop in the Anglican Church in these islands, also has strong links with the Waikato. He was raised in the region, and began his curacy in Te Awamutu.

A number of festivities are planned for the weekend – including (at 8am on Sunday) a journey by boat down the city reaches of the Waikato River, to pay homage to several sites of significance in the Diocese’s 80-year history.

Bishop David, Bishop Philip and their guests will be on the boat deck, robed in their purple or black cassocks.

ENDS

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