Alan Harper (bishop)
|The Most Revd
Alan Harper, OBE
|Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland|
|Church||Church of Ireland|
|In office||2 February 2007 – 1 October 2012
(enthroned 16 March 2007)
20 March 1944 |
|Previous post||Bishop of Connor (2002-2007)|
Alan Edwin Thomas Harper, OBE (born 20 March 1944) is a retired clergyman of the Church of Ireland, having served as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland from 2007–2012. He is the first English-born Irish primate since the Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1869. He and his wife Helen have four children.
Education and employment
Born in Staffordshire on 20 March 1944, Harper was educated at Moorgate County Primary School, Tamworth, Staffordshire, The Grammar School of Elizabeth, Queen of England in Tamworth. He studied geography at Leeds University. Following graduation (B.A.), he worked as University Map Curator and Departmental Librarian in the Department of Geography. He moved to Northern Ireland in July 1966 when he was appointed a member of the Archaeological Survey of Northern Ireland. He married Helen in 1967 and the couple have four children; Catherine, Richard and twins Emma and Anne. In 1974 he returned to England as Principal Assistant Planning Officer with the Staffordshire County Council. In 1980 Harper was appointed a member of the Historic Monuments Council for Northern Ireland and was Chairman from 1988 to 1995. In 1996 he was awarded an OBE for Services to Conservation in Northern Ireland.
Ordination and ministry
Pursuing a vocation to the ministry, Harper entered the Church of Ireland Theological College in Dublin in 1975 and was ordained a deacon in 1978 in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast. A year later, he became a priest. His first curacy was in the Ballywillan in Connor diocese; he then served as vicar of Moville, followed by a tenure as rector of Christ Church, Londonderry from 1982 to 1986. Returning to Connor diocese, he became rector of Malone from 1986 to 2002 and served as Archdeacon of Connor and Precentor of St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, from 1996 to 2002.
Bishop and archbishop
On 17 December 2001, Harper was elected Bishop of Connor by the Episcopal Electoral College. He was consecrated on 18 March 2002 in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, and enthroned in Christ Church Cathedral, Lisburn, on 25 April 2002. On 10 January 2007, the 11 bishops of the Church of Ireland elected him the 104th (including those bishops prior to the English Reformation) Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, in succession to Archbishop Robin Eames. In June of 2012 he announced his intention to retire with effect from the end of September.
Views on sexuality
Since issues of sexuality (particularly homosexuality) are the topic of endless debate and simmering acrimony in the Anglican Communion at present, Harper's election to the primacy immediately drew media interest to his views on these questions; previous interviews were given new scrutiny. Several commentators concluded that he is personally liberal but willing to be bound by more traditional views as long as the Church of Ireland has not as a whole signalled a desire to move on from them.
- Anglican Communion
- List of Anglican Primates
- Debrett's People of Today London,2008 Debrett's, ISBN 978-1-870520-95-9
- Armagh diocese biography
- Who's Who2008: London, A & C Black ISBN 978-0-7136-8555-8
- Crockford's Clerical Directory2008/2009 Lambeth, Church House Publishing ISBN 978-0-7151-1030-0
- Connor History
- Cathedral details
|Church of Ireland titles|
|Bishop of Connor
|Archbishop of Armagh