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Archbishop of Canterbury honours Derry bishops

By Sarah Mac Donald - 02 July, 2020

The Catholic Bishop of Derry and the retired Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry have been described as “two very worthy recipients of the Lambeth Award 2020”.

On Tuesday, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury announced this year’s recipients of Lambeth Awards for outstanding contributions to the Church and wider society.

In total 32 awards were given to people from across the Anglican Church and beyond in fields including evangelism, the Religious life, safeguarding, ecumenism, theology and interfaith relations.

Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry received the Langton Award for Community Service for his exceptional and sustained dedication to the cause of peace and social cohesion in an environment of traditional interdenominational tension.

Bishop Kenneth Good, the retired Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry, received the Langton Award for Community Service for giving strategic leadership to the local church to engage fully with the community, throughout his ordained ministry, most of which was in the complex community of Northern Ireland.

In his message of congratulation, Archbishop Eamon Martin said, “Building on the work of their predecessors, they have worked, both individually and jointly, to help heal community divisions.”

“Their choosing to work together as often as possible, and their visible presence together on so many occasions, sends a strong message of harmony and is a powerful living out of the Gospel values of love, peace and unity.”

Archbishop Martin said the shared Christian witness of Bishop McKeown and Bishop Good served “as an inspiration for us all, both in church and civic society. I am pleased that they are being recognised not only for their contribution to church unity, but also for their lived testimony to reconciliation in the wider community.”

During 2017, Bishop McKeown and Bishop Good’s shared Christian witness and common Columban heritage was celebrated in a series of joint pilgrimages.

They walked together from St Columba’s birthplace in Gartan to Derry city, and travelled to the Saint’s resting place in Iona, as well as undertaking other joint walks across their dioceses. They used these events to raise awareness of their shared Columban vocation to, “Preserve with each other sincere charity and peace”.

The Langton Award for Community Service was first awarded by Archbishop Justin Welby in March 2016 for outstanding contribution to the community in accordance with the Church’s teaching.

It is named after Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1207 to 1228, who worked for the political independence of England, acted as a leader and spokesman for the barons, and who demanded that King Henry confirm the Magna Carta.

The recipients of other Lambeth awards include people from New Zealand, Kenya and the USA, as well as the UK. The awards are usually presented at a ceremony at Lambeth Palace, but this year it had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Announcing this year’s recipients Archbishop Justin Welby said, “This is the fifth year of the Lambeth Awards, and I am constantly impressed and humbled by the work that recipients have accomplished, sometimes in the most challenging circumstances. Not all are followers of Jesus Christ, but all contribute through their faith to the mutual respect and maintenance of human dignity which are so vital to spiritual and social health.”

Following the announcement, Bishop Donal McKeown said the Lambeth Award would serve as an encouragement to Church and wider civic society.

“It is a privilege to receive this Award along with Bishop Ken,” Bishop McKeown said. “He laboured long and faithfully in this corner of the Lord’s vineyard. Anything I have done in my few years here was built on the foundations that others had laid before my arrival.”

“As the disciples on the road to Emmaus discovered, the Truth can be encountered by those who walk together. Bishop Ken and I sought to walk together as a symbol of the pilgrim Church, making space for Christ to make our hearts burn within us.”

“Community is built by good relationships and by emphasising our long, shared history rather than our more recent divided past. Along with the other main Churches in the area, we tried to look at the common heritage of St Columba. That enabled us all to look together at some of the recent contentious centenaries so that our young people could face the future with hope rather than fear.”

“It was wonderful to welcome Archbishop Welby to Derry in February 2018. I trust that this Award will be an encouragement to both Church and wider civic society. And I look forward to building on the existing links with Canterbury long into the future.”

Bishop Ken Good said he was “humbled and grateful to the Archbishop of Canterbury for honouring me with a Lambeth Award for Community Service, and doubly blessed to receive this honour alongside my friend in Christ, Bishop Donal McKeown. This simultaneous recognition of the work of two bishops is a source of great encouragement.”

“The pursuit of peace is a noble endeavour, but the journey is frequently challenging and can feel lonely. I’m thankful for having had Bishop Donal as a trusted companion in what became for us a joint quest.”

“Bishop Donal and I do what we do because of a sense of calling. Jesus told his disciples to love one another, and that is a command we have sought to live up to and to share as best we can, whatever the cost. In this, we have been privileged to follow in the footsteps of inspirational predecessors.”

He added, “I hope that the Archbishop’s generous gesture towards us will inspire peacemakers elsewhere in God’s Kingdom.”

Live streaming of Masses and Services from churches in Ireland and the UK can be found here: http://churchservices.tv

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