Added on 10/10/2012
Parishes do not have to take a giant leap into the unknown to explore fresh expressions of how they ‘do church’, the Dublin and Glendalough Diocesan Growth Forum was told at the weekend. Rather than rushing back to their churches and ripping out all the pews, they can take small steps – find one thing the parish can do well and focus on that to begin with.
Over 250 clergy and lay people attended the forum in The High School, Rathgar, on Saturday October 6. Organised by the Diocesan Growth Team, the forum aimed to address the challenges faced by the church and examine opportunities for fresh expressions of church within the dioceses.
Delegates came away brimming with ideas having listened to Revd George Lings of the Church Army Centre in Sheffield and heard stories of how other parishes are doing things from Canon Neil McEndoo and Revd Rob Jones in Rathmines, Dublin, Canon Roly Heaney from Redcross, Glendalough, Revd Adrian McCartney of Boring Wells in Belfast and Revd Jackie Bellfield, a Medthodist minister in Warrington.
Speaking at the event, the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, described the forum as “an engine room for change”. He acknowledged that for many, change was a difficult thing but hoped that they would leave the forum with a broader, deeper expression of “who we are”.
Having heard the inspirational stories of fresh expressions, Archbishop Jackson warned against simply putting other people’s ideas in the copier and hoping they worked out. He said it was important to examine what would work in the context of individual parishes and start from there. However, he said he was keen to support and facilitate people’s ideas and added that some of the initiatives suggested were already in the pipeline.
Participants broke up into smaller groups in the afternoon to discuss what they had heard and then brought their ideas back to the main forum. There was a sense that the discussion that had taken place during the day needed to continue in the parishes.
Clergy were urged to be leaders and enablers while an appeal went out to select vestries to have growth on their agendas rather than just fabric and buildings. Many people felt that there were a lot of positive things happening in parishes but they just needed to be tweaked. Some suggested the possibility of developing groups outside church for fellowship while others proposed changing the liturgy occasionally to make it more accessible.
The welcome provided by a church was deemed important and, in an age where many bemoan the absence of community spirit, it was pointed out that the church could help create a sense of community where shopping centres could not.
The Diocesan Growth Team is in the process of putting a website together which will feature videos from the day, slides used by the speakers and other resources which can be used throughout the United Dioceses in parishes or rural deaneries. The web address will be publicised on the Dublin and Glendalough website dublin.anglican.org in due course.
Caption – The speakers at the Dublin and Glendalough Diocesan Growth Forum which took place on Saturday, 6 October in The High School. L–R: Revd Adrian McCartney of Boring Wells in Belfast, Revd Rob Jones of Holy Trinity in Rathmines, Revd Jackie Bellfield from Warrington, Revd George Lings of the Church Army Centre, Archbishop Michael Jackson, Andrew McNeile, Canon Neil McEndoo of Holy Trinity in Rathmines and Canon Roly Heaney from Redcross, Glendalough.
For further information please contact:
Diocesan Communications Officer
Dublin & Glendalough