New books by C of I bishops

The old remark about city buses may also be applied to books by bishops – wait a long time for one, and behold two come along almost together. Books by the Bishop of Kilmore and the Bishop of Connor are being launched later this month in The Good Book Shop, Belfast.

Going for Growth – Learning from Peter by Bishop Ken Clarke

Volatile. Cowardly. Slow on the uptake. As a follower of Jesus, Peter didn’t have a lot going for him. Yet he became a passionate preacher and an extraordinary leader, and the rock on which Christ built his church.

Bishop Ken Clarke believes that Jesus works the same kind of transformation in his followers today.

In this warm-hearted and deeply encouraging book, he draws out lessons from Peter’s life for us today. He equips enthusiastic disciples and growing leaders to keep their focus, handle failure and fulfil their potential in God’s service.

The book which was launched this summer, has been selling well, according to Richard Ryan, manager of the Good Bookshop in Belfast. It has evoked very complimentary commendations. Wallace Benn, Bishop of Lewes said, “This is a fantastic book by a great Christian leader. Powerful insights into the life of Peter will warm your heart, challenge your soul and fix your eyes on Jesus. Essential reading for every Christian who wants to grow. I loved it!”

And Ian Coffey, Vice-Principal (Strategy) and Director of Leadership Training, Moorlands College has written, “’Ken Clarke is a man worth listening to, and he speaks as he writes, from the heart to the heart. There is some rich wisdom in these pages as he looks at lessons from the life of Peter that apply to followers of Jesus in every generation. If you have been called to lead (or suspect you might be), there is much here to encourage you to grow and deepen your faith.”

The Belfast launch of Bishop Clarke’s book will be at the Good Book Shop on Thursday 29th September– following the reading of KJV@4:00 which will be by Bishop Ken Clarke.

See extract below
ISBN: 9781844745463, 192 pages, Paperback. Inter Varsity Press £8.99

Shadows on the Journey by Bishop Alan Abernethy

Faith is understood by Bishop Alan as a journey with Jesus. This journey has had difficult and exciting moments. During a period of extended sick leave he found it helpful to reflect on this journey, which for thirty years has been lived out in the context of ordained ministry, in the Church of Ireland.

On St. Peter’s Day, 29th June, 2007 he was ordained as a bishop and has served since then, as Bishop of Connor. In these pages he wrestles with the shadows that have been part of his journey of faith.

These include the shadows of scripture, ministry, worship, cultural history, mystery, and these and other subjects are discussed from the perspective of being a priest and a bishop. He discusses the difficulties facing the church today and questions whether the structures of parish life enable the mission that the church is called to live out in the local community.

He also examines possible ways of supporting those in ministry as they seek to fulfill their calling. These reflections begin and end with the disciples on the road to Emmaus on that first Easter Day.

Bishop Abernethy’s book, ‘Shadows on the Journey’, will be launched at The Good Bookshop, Belfast on Thursday 22nd September, following the KJV 400 Bible reading which will be by former Ulster and Ireland rugby player Trevor Ringland.

Paperback: 112 pages, Publisher: Columba Press, ISBN-10: 1856077365, ISBN-13: 978-1856077361

Books may be ordered from:
The Good Book Shop 61-67 Donegall Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland, BT1 2QH

Phone: 0044 (0)28 9082 8890   Fax: 0044 (0)28 9023 7802  E-mail:

Extract from Bishop Clarke’s book

We all meet people in life who make an enormous impact upon us. We can identify with them. We see something of ourselves in them and we also see what we aspire to be. They influence us. They challenge us. They motivate and inspire us. They are people of hope. They show us a better way. They are like rainbows in human form, for they are pictures of potential realized and compelling transformation. In my life, the Apostle Peter is one such person. For years he has intrigued me and enthused me. I see in him a model for twenty-first-century disciples and leaders.

Growth is one of the buzzwords in the church today. Growing churches, growing leaders and growing Christians are familiar terms. Yet real sustainable growth is impossible without growth in integrity and Christ-likeness. This is a growth which is not about celebrity but about depth of character. It is about the kind of people we are and can become. This book is all about observing that kind of quality growth in Peter. It is about learning vital lessons from him.

Peter’s story is a reality check to those who make false promises of a trouble-free life for all who follow Jesus. His life dispels a superficial and shallow understanding of Christian discipleship. His experiences are a reminder that growth involves growing pains. He knew about disappointment and unwise choices. He tasted the bitter pain of personal failure and foolishness. We see that failure does not have to be final and that brokenness can be the springboard to usefulness. Out of the seedbeds of deep devastation, we witness Christ-initiated restoration and Peter’s incredible transformation. His story is one of hope for all, not least for those who feel a failure. The church today needs to rediscover a Christ who restores, and needs to be more like him.

However, Peter’s story is much more than that. It goes far beyond the personal. The Peter story brings hope to divided communities and struggling churches. In Peter we see someone compelled to confront prejudices in his own life. Issues of racism, sectarianism and religious bigotry are part of his story. Having grown up in a divided community in Northern Ireland, and conscious of divisions in countries and communities across the world, I find Peter a model for courageous Christian leadership in our twenty-first-century world. He is compellingly contemporary. His experience gives hope to all.

This book has been a long time in the making. Sometimes I have said that preparing a sermon is comparable to a pregnancy, but writing this book has been even more like a pregnancy. I freely acknowledge that only a man would say that – more specifically, a man who is willing for martyrdom!

However, the comparisons are that it doesn’t happen instantly, it takes time, pain is involved and one changes during the experience. The delivery of this book is after a very long ‘pregnancy’! Its conception was in 2002. I had the privilege of giving the Bible readings at an International Scripture Union Conference in Nottingham University. Some of this material has grown out of those Bible readings on Peter. New Horizon is the largest annual Christian event in Northern Ireland and completely unexpectedly in 2007, because of sudden bereavement in a speaker’s family, I was drafted in and led Bible readings on Peter. At both events, people encouraged me to consider publication. Some of these themes were explored when the Bishops of the Church of Ireland invited me to give a short series of devotional talks at one of our residential meetings. Their subsequent comments were a great encouragement. …