Added on 19/02/2014
As part of the process of exploring issues surrounding human sexuality taking place throughout the Church of Ireland, the Diocese of Connor has been has been grouped with the Diocese of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory and the Diocese of Kilmore, Elphiin and Ardagh.
Representatives from all three dioceses are to meet at the Emmaus Conference Centre, Swords, Co Dublin on Saturday 29 March 2014.
A preliminary meeting for the Diocese of Connor was held on Thursday 13 February in St Patrick’s Parish Hall, Ballymena.
Bishop Alan Abernethy invited every parish to be represented at this diocesan meeting and the Ven Dr Stephen McBride, Archdeacon of Connor, who chaired the evening, said it was encouraging to see more than 200 people from across the diocese gathered at St Patrick’s for a most interesting evening of discussion and debate.
Those present listened intently to presentations from The Revd Dr Bryan Follis, Rector of All Saints’ Parish, Belfast, and Ms Pam Tilson, Rector’s Churchwarden in St George’s Parish, Belfast, and a member of Changing Attitudes Ireland.
Following the presentations, there was a time for group discussion when the delegates were asked to consider what issues raised by the speakers had challenged them and made them think differently, and also to examine areas of concern they had as members of the Church of Ireland regarding this topic and how it is being handled.
The evening ended with questions from the delegates which were answered by the presenters and then Dr Follis and Ms Tilson had a short period for summing up the discussions.
Archdeacon McBride said: “The subject of human sexuality is one that has been debated throughout not only the Church of Ireland but the whole Anglican Communion and is one that has the potential to be extremely damaging to our unity. It was very encouraging to witness the discussion in Ballymena being carried out with sensitivity and grace.”
The Archdeacon said a comment by one delegate aptly encapsulated the atmosphere of the evening.
‘Like many people, I had no real enthusiasm for attending the meeting in Ballymena expecting the same old stalemate of two opposing views and a ‘no surrender’ mentality. It was very refreshing and uplifting to experience a frank exchange of views in a non–confrontational way and I think everyone went away understanding the other side a little more and happy that they had had an opportunity to express their viewpoint.’
Photo L–R: Archdeacon Stephen Forde; Archdeacon Stephen McBride (chair); Archdeacon George Davison; Ms Pam Tilson (speaker); the Revd Dr Bryan Follis (speaker) and the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Revd Alan Abernethy.
For further information please contact:
Connor Diocesan Communications Officer