The Chapter has a lengthy history. In 1609, the Chapter of the Church of Connor, situated near Kells, was remodelled by Charter of King James I and received the Latin name of ‘Ecclesia Cathedralis sancti Salvatoris (ie Saint Saviour) de Connorth.’ The Chapter of Connor was to consist of Dean, Archdeacon, Chancellor, Precentor and Treasurer, along with the four Prebendaries of Kilroot, Rasharkin, Connor and Cairncastle.
In 1662, a Charter of King Charles II ‘…constituted and established the said Church of Lisvurne, alias Lisnagarvie, and the place of the same church to be for ever hereafter the Episcopal Seat of the aforesaid several bishopricks of Down and Connor…’ Some years ago doubts were raised as to the validity of this Charter. In 1952 a Bill of the General Synod confirmed Lisburn Cathedral as that of the Diocese.
Members of the Chapter of St Saviour wear a distinctive badge on their preaching scarves – this Chapter seal originates in the 17th century. In 1992 the decision was also made by the Chapter that members may wear distinctive crimson cassocks and in 1999 it was agreed that they may wear a crimson sub collar band. The Dean of Connor wears the Insignia or Emblem of Office. This was commissioned by the Chapter, and dedicated by the Bishop of the Diocese in memory of Dean JS Fair.
The first holder of the office of Dean was Milo Whale (1609). The first recorded holder of the office of Archdeacon was Eustachius (1225). Perhaps for this reason the Archdeacon of Connor takes precedence, after the Dean, over the other Dignitaries, unlike many other Chapters where the Archdeacon ranks below the other three Dignitaries.
The post of Archdeacon of Dalriada, named after an ancient Irish/Scots kingdom, dates from 1965, when the growth of the diocesan population was at its height and extra assistance was necessary for the Bishop. The Archdeacon of Connor has responsibility for the southern part of the diocese and the seniority of the Archdeacons is determined by the length of service in office.
From 1609 each member of the Chapter drew his sustenance from a corps or group of benefices. These were substantially reduced in 1834 and 1868. At Disestablishment in 1870 sustentation was completely abolished, and thus today the titles of Chapter members are honorary. All appointments to the Chapter are exclusively in the hands of the Bishop of the Diocese and can only be held so long as the holder ‘shall continue to be a beneficed or licensed clergyman in the said Diocese of Connor and no longer.’
The Dean is styled the Very Reverend and Archdeacons the Venerable. The title Chancellor is often used by the holder of that office while the other Dignitaries and the four Prebendaries are referred to as Canon.
When he was appointed as Dean of Connor in 2016, Sam Wright had a vision that the Dean and Chapter would actively resource the Diocese of Connor, particularly in the area of training. Since then, the Chapter has provided events such as The Big Sing, a musical training event; and A training event for Childrens and Youth Workers.
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