Tripartite Conference For Clogher, Limerick And Tuam Dioceses Held On 15 February 2014
Added on 20/02/2014
On Saturday 15th February, TKA came together with the dioceses of Limerick and Clogher to consider the subject of ‘Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief’.
This gathering was in response to a call from The General Synod that dioceses across the Church of Ireland should engage, on a regional tripartite basis, in a listening process which would then feed in to the work of the General Synod at a national level.
During the planning process, representatives from the three dioceses in TKA’s region were chosen and asked to attend a day long conference in the McWilliam Hotel, Claremorris. On the day, upwards of 130 clergy and lay came together to pray, to listen to speakers and to each other and to engage in small, round table discussion.
The conference facilitator was Revd Doug Baker. Doug grew up in the USA but has been resident for 37 years in Northern Ireland. He is a Presbyterian minister, employed by the Presbyterian Church of the USA, and has been a member of the programme staff of Corrymeela, and a staff member at Mediation Northern Ireland and the Irish School of Ecumenics. He has considerable training and experience as a mediator and has facilitated dialogue in a number of Christian communities over contentious issues.
Doug led the morning programme which explored the virtues of Humility, Patience, Integrity and Mutual Respect, under the theme of ‘Transforming Conflict By Grace’. The presentation was interspersed throughout by exercises and conversations held amongst the small groups.
The second half of the day involved a panel of three speakers, each with a different perspective.
Malcom Macourt was brought up as a member of the Church of Ireland, but has lived for many years in England with his civil partner, now a retired Anglican vicar. He has been involved in issues relating to human sexuality for very many years, and is editor of a series of papers published as ‘Towards a Theology of Gay Liberation’ (SCM 1997).
Peter Ould describes himself as ‘post gay’. He is married to Gayle and writes for a number of on–line publications from the perspective of a conservative Christian. He is also a member of an advisory board of the Church of England for social media.
Professor Samuel McConkey is head of department for International Health and Tropical Medicine at the Royal College of surgeons in Ireland. He has wide experience in Africa and expertise in the areas of HIV/AIDS Hepatitis B, Malaria and HTLV1.
Each of the speakers offered a different perspective on human sexuality and human relationships. There was then opportunity for some further reflection and questions.
The conference was both important and highly constructive in the way that it covered the issue of living with very deeply differing views. The whole thrust of the day was not to construct, or even reconstruct, a definitive theology of Human Sexuality. Rather it was attempt to explore whether the Church of Ireland can find a way to maintain her unity while acknowledging and accommodating a wide range of outlooks on the thorny question of the Christian perspective of sexuality.
Photo: Tuam, Killala & Achonry Representatives at Conference
For further information please contact:
The Very Reverend Alistair Grimason
Tuam, Killala & Achonry Diocesan Communications Officer