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Gay organist ‘removed’ by Rector after same-sex marriage

29 November 2019

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St Columba’s, Drumcliff

St Columba’s, Drumcliff

A GAY man who served for 20 years as organist at Drumcliffe Parish Church, in Co. Sligo — the burial place of the poet W. B. Yeats — and a sister church in Munninane was “removed” from his post by the Rector, the Ven. Isaac Hanna, after he married his same-sex partner in a civil ceremony last month.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, was visited at his home by Archdeacon Hanna, who is the Archdeacon of Elphin and Ardagh, on 11 October, who told him that he was “uncomfortable” with the organist’s remaining in post. Both churches have since relied on recorded music for services.

The Archdeacon’s decision prompted a strongly worded open letter to the Rector and the Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin & Ardagh, the Rt Revd Ferran Glenfield, from a former churchwarden at Drumcliffe, Annie West, who says that Archdeacon Hanna had acted unilaterally.

She described the organist as “one of the kindest and most generous faithful servants of the church” who had been a victim of discrimination “in the most inexplicably cruel way”.

She continued: “He played Sunday after Sunday, funerals, weddings, and special occasions, as rectors came and went, died, fired, or retired.”

A spokeswoman for the dioceses responded to a list of questions sent to the Bishop, among them querying the actions against the organist in the light of the Church of Ireland’s stated position of inclusivity and compassion.

She said: “At a meeting convened by the Bishop of Kilmore over the present pastoral difficulties in the Drumcliffe group of parishes in Sligo, the Bishop proposed that the issues concerned are addressed in a process of mediation from outside the parish and the diocese. The Bishop is hopeful that mediation may bring about needed resolution and reconciliation.”

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