What is the Hard Gospel Project?
Opportunity as well as challenge arises for the Church of Ireland, and all other Christian churches, in addressing two profound questions:
- How should we as a Christian church regard ourselves and our role in a rapidly changing, multi-faith and multicultural 21st century Ireland (north and south)?
- How should we as individuals in the context of 21st century Ireland (north and south) regard ourselves and our responsibilities as:
- a) Individual Christians
- b) Members of the Church of Ireland
- c) Citizens of a wider community and society - living with our diverse “neighbours” ?
The Hard Gospel Project represents a commitment by the Church of Ireland to examine not only the challenges of faith which arise for Christians in the “vertical” relationship in loving God but also the practical implications for the outworking of faith in “horizontal” relationships as expressed in Christ’s command to “love your neighbour”.
The Hard Gospel Project is the Church of Ireland’s response to the challenge to speak truth to ourselves, as well as to the world we live in. Its core aim is clear - to strengthen the church for effective witness in a divided and changing society.
What is represented in the Hard Gospel Project is a belief within the Church of Ireland that any Church is strengthened by asking itself profound questions, and understanding and engaging with the communities in which it lives.
In the words of Archbishop Eames
It represents a sincere and prayerful self-examination of how this Church approaches difference at all levels in its daily life. It involves examination of attitude, organisation, activities, and contact with society, influence and leadership. It touches Church life at its most potent and realistic point – the local scene in a parish. It asks hard questions – and expects hard answers. But it calls for action, change and serious readjustment …it represents for me the sincerity and integrity of internal examination on the same basis the Church has often demanded of society. We are in other words doing unto ourselves as we have asked of others.
Our vision is a Church of Ireland which takes a positive leadership role in addressing the issues of sectarianism and dealing with difference that face the rapidly changing societies across the island of Ireland in the 21st century and a membership who contribute constructively to the development of transformed communities through reflecting and outworking Christ’s command to love God and their neighbour.