Alan Harper (bishop)

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The Most Reverend
Alan Harper
Former Archbishop of Armagh
and Primate of All Ireland
Bishop Alan Harper.jpg
Harper in 2011
Church Church of Ireland
Province Armagh
Diocese Armagh
Elected 10 January 2007
Installed 2 February 2007
Term ended 1 October 2012
Predecessor Robin Eames
Successor Richard Clarke
Ordination 1977 (Deacon)
1979 (Priest)
Consecration 18 March 2002
Personal details
Birth name Alan Edwin Thomas Harper
Born (1944-03-20) 20 March 1944 (age 74)
Tamworth, Staffordshire, England, UK
Nationality British (English)
Denomination Anglican
Spouse Helen
Children Catherine, Richard, Emma, and Anne
Previous post Bishop of Connor (2002-2007)
Alma mater University of Leeds

Alan Edwin Thomas Harper, OBE (born 20 March 1944) is a retired Anglican bishop. He served in the Church of Ireland as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland from 2007 to 2012.[1][2]

He is the first English-born primate since the Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1869. He and his wife Helen have four children.[3]

Education and employment[edit]

Born in Tamworth, Staffordshire on 20 March 1944,[4] 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.[5]

Following graduation (BA), 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 in 1967; he and his wife Helen 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 he 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[edit]

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 at St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast. A year later, he became a priest. His first curacy was in the Ballywillan in Connor diocese.[citation needed]

He later served as vicar of Moville, followed by a tenure as rector of Christ Church, Londonderry from 1982 to 1986.[6] Returning to Connor diocese, he became rector of Malone from 1986 to 2002 and served as Archdeacon of Connor[7] and Precentor of St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, from 1996 to 2002.[8]

Bishop and archbishop[edit]

On 17 December 2001, Harper was elected Bishop of Connor by the Episcopal Electoral College. He was consecrated on 18 March 2002 at 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 Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, in succession to Archbishop Robin Eames.[9] In June 2012 he announced his intention to retire with effect from the end of September.[citation needed]

Views on sexuality[edit]

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[10][11] 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 signaled a desire for change.[citation needed]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Anglican Communion Primates: A Picture Gallery (part 1)". 23 January 2007. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
  3. ^ Debrett's People of Today, London, 2008; ISBN 978-1-870520-95-9
  4. ^ "Archbishop". Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  5. ^ Who's Who 2008, London, A & C Black ISBN 978-0-7136-8555-8, 2008
  6. ^ Crockford's Clerical Directory2008/2009 Lambeth, Church House Publishing ISBN 978-0-7151-1030-0
  7. ^ History of Anglican Diocese of Connor,; accessed 27 July 2017.
  8. ^ "Diocese of Armagh". Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  9. ^ "Saint Patrick's Cathedral Armagh". 9 May 2008. Archived from the original on 9 May 2008. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
  10. ^ "{title}". Archived from the original on 2007-05-04. Retrieved 2007-05-04.
  11. ^ Crawley, William. "BBC - Will & Testament: Englishman to lead Irish Church".

External links[edit]

Church of Ireland titles
Preceded by
Jimmy Moore
Bishop of Connor
Succeeded by
Alan Abernethy
Preceded by
Robin Eames
Archbishop of Armagh
Succeeded by
Richard Clarke