Archbishop Williams to Lead Farewell Service for Robin Eames

The spiritual head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and leader of the Church of England, Dr Rowan Williams has announced that he will travel to Northern Ireland to preach a farewell service for the retiring Primate of the Church of Ireland, Archbishop Robin Eames.

|PIC1|A Thanksgiving Service will be held on 16 November in St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh for Dr Eames, who has been Primate for 20 years now.

It has been touted by local Armagh reports that special guests representing all facets of the Archbishop's life and ministry will be at the farewell service, and members of the Diocesan parishes will also be invited to attend the celebration of Dr Eames' ministry.

The Archbishop of Canterbury's attendance at the service reveals the deep respect Archbishop Eames holds amongst his peers. Dr Eames, who is the longest-serving Primate in the worldwide Anglican Communion is highly regarded throughout the Anglican Church, as well as other Church denominations and faiths.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said, "Without doubt Robin Eames is a world figure within Anglicanism, and he has been one of the outstanding Archbishops of his era. His absence will be felt as a real wound."

Dr Eames was chairman of three major Anglican Commissions, and has been in a leading role in overseeing women's ordination, as well as offering support during the current controversy surrounding homosexuality within the Church.

He was elected as Archbishop of Armagh on February 7, 1986, and his Primacy, with that of Archbishop Gregg - who also served for 20 years from 1939 - has been one of the two longest in the last century.

|QUOTE|It has been reported that Dr Eames will take his final services on December 31, his last day as Archbishop. He will celebrate Communion in Armagh Cathedral that morning and he will preach for the last time as Archbishop in St Patrick's in the afternoon, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

This year, Dr Eames has focused on urging forgiveness in order to bring about true reconciliation in the country that is still in the process of bringing to a full conclusion decades of hostility and conflict.

Moving on to the present situation in Northern Ireland, Archbishop Eames said: "Despite all the difficulties and set-backs things are changing in Northern Ireland. There is hope as we see what was unimaginable even a few years ago becoming a reality.

"But true reconciliation cannot be enforced. Forgiveness is part of reconciliation. Forgiveness demands much - in fact too much for some. But understanding encompasses both hope and openness to each other.

"In that process we as a community can and must move on. The Resurrection experience demands nothing less."

Archbishop Eames will step down at the end of the year, and the Church of Ireland House of Bishops will consider in due course the selection of a successor.