Added on 09/10/2012
The Christian faith was talked about in a ‘positive and real way’ as Connor Diocese did Synod differently at St Brigid’s Church, Glengormley, on 4 October 2012.
Judge Derek Rodgers, Chancellor, with Synod Members Robert Buckley and Jean Glenholmes from Kilwaughter and Cairncastle with All Saints, Craigyhill, and the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy at Connor Diocesan Synod in St Bridgid’s, Mallusk.
In a break from the norm, the formal business of the Synod was conducted prior to the evening meal. Standing orders were suspended for the second Synod session which moved Connor’s Vision Strategy to the next phase by looking at how the vision can work in real situations.
Speakers included Dr Paul Coulter from Belfast Bible College and Tim Magowan from Tearfund.
A key part of the evening was interviews with a panel including the Rev William Orr, Muckamore, Killead and Gartree; the Rev Roger Cooke, St Patrick’s Coleraine; and Peter Blake, St Paul’s, Lisburn. They spoke about how they had re–connected with their local communities
Bishop Alan’s presidential address in the earlier part of Synod was largely focused on the three strands of the Connor Vision Strategy – engaging communities, empowering ministry and effecting change.
He said the Church instead had to find more creative and imaginative ways of being church in the city, and paid tribute to ‘those who have kept the faith and enabled parishes to continue in some very difficult circumstances.’
The Bishop said: “We are at a critical point in the life of the church and it is very important that we continue to seek the wisdom of God as we wrestle with the many issues facing us.”
He added: “The speed of change in the last few decades has been rapid and the cultural backcloth to the mission and ministry to which we are called is very demanding.”
Change would not be easy, he said. “At the same time there is the recognition that we have to do something to re–engage with many who no longer believe that the church has anything important to say or do,” the Bishop added.
“Change is always painful and stretching, but when handled carefully, honestly and with consultation it can and will bring new hope and energy.
“The journey has begun and there is no blueprint for where we need to go but I hope that there is the desire to discover what it is we are being called to do and to follow. That will mean many conversations and much prayer as we journey together.”
He said his role was not to tell people what to do, but to listen, encourage and enable.
Bishop Abernethy said the Church of Ireland had faced a difficult year. “The Cavan conference was a positive experience but General Synod was not so comfortable. The central issue that has caused this deep division is not resolved and we have to find more creative ways as synodical church to deal with such controversial and divisive issues,” he said.
Closing Synod, Bishop Alan said: “One of the joys for me this evening was to sit and listen and to be encouraged.” He added: “This is a Synod that has been talking about the things that matter.”
The panel interviewed at Connor Diocesan Synod. From left: Trevor Douglas, Parish Development Officer; the Rev Roger Cooke, St Patrick’s, Coleraine; The Rev William Orr, Muckamore, Killead and Gartree; Peter Blake, St Paul’s, Lisburn, and the Rev Barry Forde, chaplain at QUB, who conducted the interviews.
For further information please contact:
Connor Diocesan Communications Officer