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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 January 2007, 16:32 GMT
Church elects Harper as primate
Bishop Harper succeeds Dr Robin Eames
Bishop Harper succeeds Dr Robin Eames
The Church of Ireland has elected the Right Reverend Alan Harper as Archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland.

Bishop Harper, the current Bishop of Connor, said he was deeply humbled by the election.

It was announced at St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin.

"I pray that God will guide me in fulfilling the responsibilities of the role of Archbishop of Armagh," said the primate-elect.

"I am conscious of the privilege of serving the church in this role."

Bishop Harper succeeds Dr Robin Eames who retired in December after 20 years as head of the church.

They have nurtured me and welcomed me and my family into their homes and parishes, sharing both joys and sorrows
Right Reverend Alan Harper

Archbishop-elect Harper said he looked forward "to meeting the people of my new diocese and those members of the church throughout the island of Ireland".

"As I look forward, I also express sincere gratitude to the clergy and people of the diocese of Connor, where I have served for 22 years, the last six years as bishop.

"They have nurtured me and welcomed me and my family into their homes and parishes, sharing both joys and sorrows."

The 11 members of the Church of Ireland's House of Bishops met in Dublin on Wednesday to choose the new primate from among themselves.

'Wise leadership'

Dr Eames, 69, was ordained in 1964, and was a bishop for more than 30 years. He was appointed archbishop in 1986.

He said he was am delighted to learn of Bishop Harper's election, adding: "I wish him God's richest blessing as he prepares for new responsibilities.

"His many gifts which I have seen and appreciated at first hand together with his deep spirituality will equip him to provide the Church of Ireland with prayerful and wise leadership."

Making the announcement in St Patrick's Cathedral on Wednesday, Archbishop of Dublin Dr John Neill said Bishop Harper was a man "of deep faith, great ability and pastoral insight and I am certain that he is the person that we were guided by the Holy Spirit to elect to this office".

Dr Robin  Eames
Archbishop Robin Eames retired at the end of last year

The primate-elect, 62, was born in Tamworth in Staffordshire and studied geography at Leeds University.

In 1966, he was appointed a member of the Archaeological Survey of Northern Ireland and later senior inspector of Historic Monuments.

He entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1975 to study for the Testimonium in Divinity, was ordained deacon in 1978 and priested in 1979.

He worked in the Diocese of Connor for a time, moving to the Derry Diocese and later to Belfast.

From 1999-2002 he was also Archdeacon of Connor and Precentor of St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast.

Church leader to retire this year
09 May 06 |  Northern Ireland

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