Added on 12/11/2013
The first steps towards the formation of a diocesan development plan for Dublin and Glendalough were taken by clergy on Wednesday 6 November in the Church of Ireland College of Education. Entitled ‘From Lived Experience to Shared Vision’, the conference was organised by Archbishop Michael Jackson.
Almost 70 clergy from all over the dioceses attended the day which aimed to let them voice their experiences and perceptions, gained through their work in Dublin and Glendalough and provide information on which to build for the future.
Initial discussions focused on the changes clergy had experienced. Issues raised included the political changes on the island, the impact of the internet age and of migration, the fluidity of congregations and the loyalty to denomination which has shifted to people looking for a church that fits them.
Other changes observed were the diverse backgrounds from which ordinands were now drawn and the gifts and challenges that brings. It was also suggested that there was a move away from the model of being a chaplain to the local Church of Ireland community to being a church for the surrounding community.
Clergy also shared stories of things they had tried in their own parishes and spoke of responding to the needs of the community in ways which also reflected the mission of the church.
Challenges were also identified. Among them was a perceived increase in ‘malignant atheism’, the stalling of ecumenism in some areas, the issue of ‘people worship’ rather than ‘God worship’ and the relationship between parson and person. The need to make a connection with the huge number of 25 to 35 year olds who are outside church was also raised.
Religious atheism, where people gather, hear talks and sing songs with no reference to God was also discussed. “It is important that there is a recognition where we swallow hard… We need to be advocates for what we believe,” Archbishop Jackson said. “There are two issues for clergy – where our personality engages with our expectations of professionalism, and training to enable us to talk about God with others in a way which is accessible and not open to ridicule.”
A Bible study focused on Acts 2. 14–21 and the clergy were asked to talk through issues arising from the passage. Themes which emerged from these discussions included the forthcoming referendum on same sex marriage, gifts of ministry, suicide and mental health issues, post training courses for clergy, spirituality, the inclusivity of the Holy Spirit and the church, working across parochial boundaries, freedom of expression in ministry, team ministry, a review of diocesan structures, isolation in parochial structures, children’s ministry, liturgy in funerals, the need for honesty in committees.
The afternoon concluded with an honest and open discussion on aspects of the diocesan synods. The Archbishop created the opportunity for discussion on points raised in his synod address.
It is envisaged that a document from the day will form the basis of further discussion on forming a vision statement for the dioceses.
Photo: Clergy in their discussion groups at the Dublin and Glendalough Clergy Day
For further information please contact:
Diocesan Communications Officer
Dublin & Glendalough