Sponsored Walk for Kindu DR Congo

Parishioners from Calry Parish are doing a sponsored walk starting on Bank Holiday Monday and running through until Friday 6th. The Miners Way is a 118 km long distance footpath based on the routes that miners took to and from the Arigna mines. Our CMSI link diocese is Kindu. Many Congolese work as miners today, often in very precarious conditions. The country is resource rich, but sadly the profits don’t seem to benefit ordinary people much at all. In consequence it is regarded as the second poorest country in the world.

The Anglican Church in Congo was founded not by western missionaries but by evangelists from Uganda. The current Archbishop of the country is Masimango Katanda. He also serves as Bishop of Kindu, an area in the east of the country twice the size of Ireland.

Archbishop Masimango’s priority is to promote development with a special emphasis on education. Many school buildings in his enormous diocese are very dilapidated and in need of renovation. In order to break the cycle of poverty education is vital. Money goes a lot further in Congo than it does in Ireland.

We are aiming to raise €1500 on our walk. We would appreciate whatever you are able to give.

Every Nation, Tribe and People? Race and the Churches in Ireland Research Project

The Irish Council of Churches, Irish Inter–Church Meeting and VOX Magazine, with the support of Evangelical Alliance Ireland, Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland and Tearfund Ireland are conducting an all-island survey on the experiences of people from ethnic minorities, and attitudes towards ethnic diversity in churches on the island of Ireland.

In the last couple of years discussions of racism and discrimination have become more prevalent across the island, with divergent narratives evident in concerns about provision of accommodation for people in the asylum systems, and marches in support of Black Lives Matter. As organisations who reach across the island, we as churches need to be able to speak into these conversations, and if we are to be able to contribute with authenticity and integrity, we need to first look at ourselves. We therefore want to deepen our understanding of the experience of and attitudes towards racism and discrimination in churches in both jurisdictions on the island of Ireland. We explore the potential for unity, integration and inclusion and examine how the church can lead the way in tackling racial injustice.

A link to the survey can be found at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DNYNF5Q. The survey is anonymous and we hope to gather views from all Christians across both jurisdictions on the island of Ireland. We estimate it will take about 10–15 minutes to complete. Further information is available at our website at irishchurches.org/research

This research is an important step in enabling churches to be able to move from welcome to inclusion and to be salt and light across the island of Ireland. To do that we need to know what the barriers to inclusion and fruitfulness in church are for people from ethnic minorities so that we can look more closely at ourselves as individuals and organisations and more truly reflect the call to love our neighbours both within and outside the church.

Running the Race – Bishop

At the time of writing, one of the most asked questions in the sporting world is, “Will the Olympic Games go ahead or not”? Tokyo 2020 has already been delayed by a year due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. The games are due to start towards the end of July but

opinion is divided. Public opinion in Japan has hardened against the games taking place.

Japan is still in the grip of the Covid crisis, with states of emergency in many cities. The idea of 100,000 athletes and officials coming to Japan in the current circumstances is asking for trouble. On the other side of the debate the IOC, who organise the Olympics and most athletes want the games to go ahead with restrictions. On balance, it seems that they are likely to take place given the huge sums of money already committed to the project.

 

The Olympic Games originated in ancient Greece. Biblical writers, particularly St. Paul, were aware of the appeal of the games in the public imagination. The New Testament uses a number of athletic metaphors or word pictures to compare the Christian life to athletics.

The metaphor of running the race recurs in Paul’s letters to the Philippians, Galatians and to Timothy and also in the letter to the Hebrews. Paul draws the conclusion that to be in the race and to obtain the prize demands commitment and discipline on behalf of the athlete and the Christian.

 

The Christian life is not a sprint but a marathon. We start the race by coming to faith in Jesus Christ. That demands commitment to him. To keep running the race demands effort, concentration and dedication; being spurred on by spectators, those who cheer us on our way and mentors. It means keeping our eye on Jesus who urges us on to the finishing line and who graciously awards us the prize of eternal life.

 

Starting the race is vital but finishing the race is the goal. The 1968 Olympic Games were held in Mexico. As usual the final athletic event was the marathon, the climax of the spectacle. Nearly 100 athletes stated the gruelling event but less than 20 finished the race.

 

One of the African runners was expected to win. John Stephen Akhwari, from Tanzania was the African champion and one of the favourites. But like many of the competitors, he suffered severe cramp due to the high altitude. He stumbled and fell badly injuring his shoulder and knee. He hobbled into the Olympic stadium last, long after the medals had been awarded and the most of the vast crowd had left.  When asked why he kept going in spite of his injuries, he said these memorable words, “My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race but to finish it.”

 

May we who are in Christ run the race in the words of the hymn writer, John Monsell,

Run the straight race through God’s good grace,

Lift up thine eyes, and seek his face;

Life with its path before us lies;

Christ is the way and Christ the prize.

+ Ferran

Parishes encouraged to support Climate Sunday in new video

Local parishes across the Church of Ireland are being encouraged to support Climate Sunday – an initiative of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland – in a new short video filmed around our island.

The initiative is calling on all local churches across Britain and Ireland to hold a climate-focused service on any Sunday before the 26th United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP 26), which is taking place in Glasgow from 31st October to 12th November this year, and to commit to long-term action on climate change.  The collective action and commitments from local churches across Britain and Ireland will be presented to the UK Government at a Nations Climate Sunday Service in Glasgow on Sunday, 5th September 2021.

The video, produced on behalf of the Church and Society Commission, is introduced by Canon Andrew Orr, a member of the Commission and also Chair of Eco-Congregation Ireland, an inter-church organisation seeking to help churches to celebrate the gift of God’s creation, recognise the inter-dependence of all creation, and care for it in their life and mission and through members’ personal lifestyles.

Archbishop John McDowell remarks: “There has probably never been a time when an emphasis by the Churches on the care of the created order is needed. Climate Sunday gives parishes the opportunity to celebrate God’s work in creation as well as his work in redemption, at a time when the need to do so is most pressing.”

Canon Andrew Orr adds: “Climate Sunday is a fantastic initiative which is already proving very popular, with over 5,000 churches already signed up.  It’s a very straightforward way for churches to highlight the issue of climate justice in their congregations and get involved in caring for God’s creation. We hope this video will encourage everyone in all parts of Ireland to take part.”

Parishes are encouraged to share the video widely in their services and through their websites and social media accounts over the summer months, and to register their interest before Sunday, 5th September.  More information on Climate Sunday is available at www.climatesunday.org

Credits

Drone footage by David Wright and music by Mark Bodino.

Captions

Speakers and scenes from around Ireland featured in the Climate Sunday video:

  1. The Cork and Waterford coastline, filmed by drone.
  2. Canon Andrew Orr, Chair of Eco-Congregation Ireland.
  3. White Park Bay, on the Causeway Coast, Co. Antrim.
  4. The Revd Andrew Sweeney at Redburn Country Park, Co. Down.
  5. Ms Carolyn Good, Co. Carlow.
  6. The Revd Cathy Hallissey, Co. Wicklow.
  7. Archbishop John McDowell.

Social Media Guidelines

Social media offers a wide range of opportunities for people to connect creatively and positively with others and share stories about Church life and the Christian faith as a whole.

At the same time, the nature of social media means that it is important to think about how we can communicate in this way and to manage the risks which can arise.

The Church of Ireland Press Office has prepared a selection of graphics to help members of the Church to use social media well, whether in organising an online service or ministry, or in everyday life. More information on the Church of Ireland Social Media policy can be found here: https://www.ireland.anglican.org/resources/484/church-of-ireland-social-media

Online Church – Practical Lessons from the Frontline

 

The Church of Ireland Council for Mission will host a webinar on Zoom on Thursday, 3rd June 2021, between 2.00pm and 3.30pm on ‘Online Church – Practical Lessons from the Frontline’.

Over the last year many churches have offered worship online.  Now that we are back in our churches, how could this continue to be a feature of how we connect with people in the future?

Dr Nick Shepherd, who is a member of the Church of England Digital Labs Conference, will be our keynote speaker.  Nick writes: “The last year has seen many churches ‘pivot’ to provide online worship and keep connected as a community through digital means.  Many commentators see this use continuing as ‘hybrid’ models of physical and digital meeting become ‘normal’. This session explores some of missiological and pastoral benefits this might provide and reflects on the theological basis for approaching worship and Christian community in this context.”

Three Church of Ireland rectors from across the island of Ireland will tell their stories of remaining online as the Covid–19 restrictions ease and they share how they believe that live streaming church online can be a missional opportunity.  Each of the rectors will lead a webinar about their online journey, the technologies they have used as well as reflecting on why they do it.   They might also confess some of their many mistakes and bloopers!

The Revd Nicola Halford is rector of Enniscorthy and Monart Union of Parishes in Ferns Diocese, Co. Wexford.  She has a web camera in her church and uses Facebook Live from her smartphone to live–stream her services.

The Revd Andrew Quill is rector of Holy Trinity Dromore, in Clogher Diocese.  Andrew also uses Facebook Live, and has integrated graphics and recorded many hymns and worship songs in the form of videos that can be used in their online services.

The Revd Cliff Jeffers is rector of Fanlobbus Union of Parishes in Cork Diocese and has been using Zoom to stream services online to Facebook and control the video feeds, including PowerPoint and videos of hymns, interviews and parishioners participating live from their homes.

The webinar will be presented on Zoom by the Church of Ireland Council for Mission.  It will be recorded so that those who cannot attend will be able to view it at a later. 

The timetable for the webinar will be as follows:

2.00pm            Welcome – Dean Tim Wright (Kildare) – Council for Mission

2.05pm            Keynote address by Dr Nick Shepherd

2.30pm            Webinar 1 – Revd Nicola Halford – ‘Keeping it simple’

2.40pm            Webinar 2 – Revd Andrew Quill – ‘Integrating graphics and Videos’

2.50pm            Webinar 3 – Revd Cliff Jeffers – ‘Online participation’

3.00pm            Breakout Groups (participants can choose which one they attend).

3.20pm            Plenary session – bringing back together – Revd Adam Pullen

3.30pm            Finish

To book a place at the Online Church – Practical Lessons from the frontline Seminar, please send an email to the Revd Colin McConaghie, the Secretary of the Church of Ireland Council Mission, by Monday, 31st May 2021: councilformission@ireland.anglican.org

You can follow the Council for Mission on Facebook here and find out more about its role on the Council’s page on the Church of Ireland website.

Voices of the Climate Crisis

The Irish Council of Churches is hosting an online ‘Voices of the Climate Crisis’ event on Tuesday, 25 May 2021, from 10.30am to 12.00noon in collaboration with Christian Aid.

The aim of this event is to equip people in church leadership (lay and ordained) to develop their church response to climate change by connecting them with people directly impacted by climate change and introducing them to resources developed by Christian Aid that will support their churches’ engagement.

You will hear Bob Kikuyu, Global Theology Advisor at Christian Aid, and Julius Mbatia and Rebekah Wilson, young climate activists from Kenya and Ireland, about the impact of climate change on peoples’ lives, and find out about resources from Christian Aid that can equip their churches to respond to the climate crisis.

You can find out more here on the Irish Council of Churches website and register at irishchurches.org/voices

Revd. Mark Smith welcomed as the Minister-in-Charge of the Kildrumferton Group of Parishes.

On Sunday, 16th May, as churches across the country returned to worship, the doors of St Paul’s Church, Ballymchugh opened to welcome the Revd. Mark Smith as the new Minister-in-Charge of the Kildrumferton Group of Parishes. The service, which was led by the  Rt. Revd. Dr. Ferran Glenfield, the Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh, was livestreamed with many parishioners, friends and family joining in online.

Revd. Mark, his wife Ruth and their daughter Martha have come to Co. Cavan from Holy Trinity Church, Frogmore just outside London. During the service words of welcome were said by Sharon Higgins, on behalf of Ballymchugh, Neil Hawthorne, on behalf of Ballyjamesduff and Ian Stokes on behalf of Kildrumferton Parish church. Revd. Nick Jones (Drung Group of Parishes), who has also served as a curate in Holy Trinity Church, Frogmore, welcomed Revd. Mark and his family to the Diocese. Revd. Nick Weir, vicar of Holy Trinity Frogmore sent greetings via audio recording.

Mark’s mother, Linnet, unable to travel to Ireland in person, was able to participate in the service by a recording of the Old Testament reading from Jeremiah 25 vs 1-5. Preaching from this passage, Bishop Ferran challenged the congregation to pay attention to the Living God and to be his distinctive people in this place. After the sermon Revd. Mark led the congregation in an affirmation of faith.

We are thankful to God for Revd. Mark’s arrival just as our churches reopen. We pray for all God’s blessings on him and his family as they love and serve God in the Kildrumferton Group of Parishes.

Can you spare 15 minutes for mental health?

By Bishop Pat Storey

On World Mental Health Day last October, the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Rev John McDowell, launched MindMattersCoI, the Church’s new mental health promotion initiative.  Wellness in body, mind and spirit is something that our Church wishes to promote and our faith deeply desires. 

We have been working hard, gathering a lot of information, developing a website and establishing an advisory group of experts to guide the project.  I am pleased to let you know that we’re now starting to collect information on awareness and attitudes towards mental health within the Church, and we need your help.  Gathering your thoughts on mental health awareness and understanding is a key phase of the project as the results will inform and shape everything else we do. 

Therefore, I would really appreciate if you would visit our website – https://mindmatters.ireland.anglican.org – and complete a short survey. It will only take about 15 minutes to complete, and the information you share will be anonymous and confidential.  We will also be running a number of online focus groups, and if you would like to join one of these, please let us know by emailing: mhp@rcbdub.org

If you don’t have internet access but would still like to participate, please call + 353 (0) 1 4125 660 and leave your name and address. We will post you out a copy of the survey with a stamped addressed envelope, to return directly to the project manager, and will also provide details of the focus groups should you wish to participate in them. 

The success of this initiative depends on your participation, so I would really like to encourage you to contribute and also tell your friends, relatives and fellow parishioners about this opportunity to take part and help us to respond best to the mental health needs in the Church and wider community. Updates on the project will be available on our website so do visit it regularly. Thank you in advance. 

Bishop Pat Storey chairs the Project Team and Advisory Group for MindMattersCoI.  This article was first published in the May 2021 edition of the Church of Ireland Gazette, an all–island magazine serving the Church.