The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, made a presentation of the highest award in the Anglican Communion to Archbishop Robin Eames of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, at a service of thanksgiving in St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh, on November 16 for the Eames' twenty-year Primacy.
Eames received the Archbishop of Canterbury's Award for Outstanding Service to the Anglican Communion.
Presenting the Award, Williams said: "We have in the Anglican Communion various ways of recognizing distinguished service. There are awards given at Lambeth, there is the cross of St. Augustine. But once in a while somebody comes along for whom this doesn't seem completely adequate and when Desmond Tutu retired, the then Archbishop of Canterbury invented the Archbishop of Canterbury's Award for Outstanding Service to the Anglican Communion.
"Tonight it is a huge privilege to present that award for the second time."
The service was attended by distinguished representatives of Church and State from both sides of the border and by the Eames' family, including his wife, Lady Eames, his two sons Niall and Michael and his sister Marian Gibson.
Members of the Representative Church Body and the General Synod of the Church of Ireland made a presentation to Eames of a figure of a dove, symbolizing various aspects of his Primacy. Dean Desmond Harman, Honorary Secretary of the General Synod said: "Through the years of your primacy you have carried the olive branch of peace and reconciliation through this island and through the Anglican Communion."
He added: "Doves are also seen as messengers in flight. In difficult times when others were lost for words you continued to carry a message of Christian conviction and flew on the wings of faith. This bird has been designed to have active wings representing the movement of the Holy Spirit which has energized your leadership."
Eames said: "I greatly appreciate the warmth of tonight's service and the participation of so many who have traveled from all corners of Ireland and the wider Anglican Communion to be with me. I find deep meaning in the symbolism of the gift that the Representative Church Body and the General Synod have made and it will be a constant reminder to me of my work and the many colleagues with whom I have served."
Eames was ordained a deacon in 1963 and a priest in 1964. He initially served as Curate in Bangor and subsequently as rector of Gilnahirk and Dundela. In May 1975, he was elected Bishop of Derry and Raphoe and was consecrated the following month. In April 1980, he was elected Bishop of Down and Dromore. He was elected Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland on February 7, 1986. At the General Synod in May 2006, he announced his intention to retire on December 31, 2006.
He has also served in many positions in the Anglican Communion. He was Chairman of the Commission on "Communion and Women in the Episcopate" (The Eames Commission) from 1988 to 1989 at the invitation of the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Robert Runcie. He also served as Chairman of the Lambeth Commission on Communion (from 2003 to 2004) that produced the Windsor Report at the request of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams.
Further information is available on the Church of Ireland website.