Added on 11/11/2013
The Rt Revd Ferran Glenfield delivered his first Presidential Address to the Diocesan Synod of Kilmore, Elphin & Ardagh held at the Bush Hotel, Carrick–on–Shannon on Saturday 9 November 2013:
Members of Synod, it is my pleasure to welcome you here today to my first Synod as your Bishop. I am deeply aware of all that you do in your local parishes, communities and in the Diocese. May I also welcome our guests from other churches and fellowships. You are most welcome. It is good to have many of our friends from various church agencies who as always provide a valuable service in their information stands.
As I started my episcopal ministry among you in the summer, I determined to do three things which I want to share with you in my inaugural presidential address.
As I travelled across the diocese I looked and observed what was going on. What did I find?
I found people at worship on Sunday and all generations were represented. I discovered a deep sense of pride in the local church which was energised in the renewal of church and community buildings making them fit for purpose. I came across this for example in Killoughter, Derrylanne, Arva, Drumkerran, Lissadell, Drumshambo and Carrigallen. As I joined the Summer Madness group from the Diocese I encountered young people with a passion for Jesus, with a sense of belonging and a servant heart. Likewise as I visited the Holiday Bible Clubs hosted by a number of our parishes and delivered in partnership with friends from South Carolina and Scripture Union, I witnessed an energy and creative spirit to reach children with the love of Christ.
To be honest, I have been greatly encouraged by what I have seen with my own eyes. I want to thank Bishop Ken Clarke for the legacy he left and the team of clergy who inspire and encourage us to go forward together as disciples of the Lord Jesus.
I have listened carefully to those within and outside the church. One of the most valuable listening exercises undertaken was the conversations with representatives of parishes without a rector, the Bailieborough Group, the Kildallon/Swanlinbar Group, the Manorhamilton Group and the South Leitrim Group. Much was shared and agreed in these conversations enabling parishes to plan for the future and make provision for the present. I have listened attentively to the challenges facing our schools in the current climate. We need to be aware of the situation in our small National Schools and as a Diocese to be supportive to Principals and Boards of Management. Above all we need
to be advocates for our National and Secondary Schools, they are such valuable assets for our community and mission.
I have been privileged to listen to young people with a sense of adventure. To those who went on a trip of a lifetime to South America this summer. To the leaders of our young people who are filled with much hope and faith. To three of our people training for the ordained ministry: Linda Frost, Olivia Downey and Raymond Kettyle, and to others who are considering the call of God on their lives; a remarkable work of God.
I have also been listening to those beyond the Diocese to glean other perspectives. Our friends in South Carolina have been very helpful in this regard. In the same way conversations with mission agencies have confirmed a sense of expectancy, that God is at work here among us.
I come from a background in education and so learning has always been an important element in my thinking. I have experienced learning at first hand on my travels:
• Learning how to be an effective witness for Christ in the wider community.
• Learning to be caring and supportive to people with particular needs, the very young, children with special needs, the sick and the elderly.
• Learning to empower people to minister in the church and in the community.
• Learning with parish and diocesan readers and exploring the contours of ministry with young clergy in the early years of their ministry.
• Learning from the wisdom and encouragement of those in senior leadership in the diocese.
All of this learning has been enriching and stretching.
As 2013 draws to a close and a new year awaits, I want to continue my exploration of the Diocese. In 2014 I intend to initiate a conversation across the Diocese with clergy and laity as to how we sustain ministry and mission in our local churches. I plan to meet up with key stakeholders in the Diocese, our Lay Readers and National School Principals and Chairpersons to draw on their experience and to forward ministry and learning. In the spring, we are planning to hold a resources day to enable local churches to build–up their capability. Likewise plans are afoot to enhance our work among children and young people, the lifeblood of our parishes. We could do so much more if more people were mobilized and our finances were more robust. We look to the Lord of the Church in all of these aspirations.
As I draw these three experiences together:
I want to leave this with you.
That we might all commit ourselves to:
• Looking – seeing afresh who God is and the scope of His purposes in His World.
• Listening – hearing afresh the kind of life Jesus intends for His people.
• Learning – what the church is for and how we might encourage one another to live the Gospel in a way that connects with today’s world.
During the past year we said farewell to a number of clergy who served in the Diocese: to Canon Bill Atkins, to Rev. Joyce Rankin and to Canon Reggie Twadell. All of these have served with distinction and we ask God’s blessing on their continuing ministries.
We welcomed: Rev. John Woods, ordained presbyter to serve in Kildallon /Swanlinbar group of parishes, Rev. Tanya Woods who transferred to the stipendiary ministry, serving in the Annagh group of parishes and Canon Liz McElhinney who returned to her roots in the Roscommon Group of parishes.
I want to say a sincere word of thanks to the Diocesan team of clergy who are key assets in the mission of God. They are ably complemented by our Diocesan team of treasurers and secretaries who undertake important financial and administrative work: John Davies, Canon Billy Stafford, Des Lowry and William Foster. In Brigid Barrett and Maud Cunningham, we have two efficient and committed secretaries and we owe them and Anne in the Cootehill Office our gratitude.
To those who give their time and talents in the Reader Ministries, to Diocesan Councils and Committees, to Church and Glebes Wardens, to Mothers Union members, those involved in musical ministries, to those who facilitate children’s and youth activities throughout the Diocese and those who train and oversee our Safeguarding Trust Policy, we say thank you for your devoted service.
As I close can I remind you that as a Diocese we exist for God. Jeremiah, the prophet draws our attention to the God we serve, ‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness.’
Lamentations 3: 22–23