Living Nativity Play – 16th Dec, Ballyjamesduff

The Kildrumferton Group of Parishes’ annual Living Nativity event returns on Saturday 16th December, 3-7pm, around the grounds of Ballyjamesduff Church of Ireland (up The Grove). Come and hear the Christmas story from some of the characters who were there – including some live animals! Totally free and all welcome!

Pioneer Ministry in the Church of Ireland moves to its next phase

The Church of Ireland Pioneer Ministry leadership team are delighted to announce the launch of the new Pioneer Ministry information booklet. This outlines how to apply for Pioneer Ministry funding and how to apply for the new Pioneer Ministry training programme.

Please watch this video for more and also click this website link to view the guide book itself. If you have any questions, please contact the team on info@pioneerministry.org. It’s wonderful news for the Church of Ireland as Pioneer Ministry continues to grow into the next exciting phase of the project.

Guide book link: https://www.pioneerministry.org/guide-book

Service of Installation at Kilmore Cathedral

This Sunday, the 26th November, the Venerable Ian Horner and Canon Richard Waller were installed into the Chapter of St Fethlimidh’s Cathedral, Kilmore. The service took place on the Sunday before Advent – a day on which the church traditionally celebrates the Kingship of Christ. Colleagues, friends, family and parishioners gathered for a wonderfully encouraging service led by Dean Nigel Crossey.

The address at the service was given by Bishop Ferran Glenfield who preached from Daniel Chapter 6 – the story of Daniel in the lion’s den. It is a story that helps us to see that Heaven rules even in the most challenging circumstances. The Bishop’s sermon was a great encouragement to believe and live out that truth as we wait for God’s kingdom to come, His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Many thanks to the parishioners of the Cathedral who had organised a delicious supper after the service. It was a great time to enjoy fellowship and a cup of tea with the wider Diocesan family.

Bishops’ Appeal announces Advent and Christmas Appeal 2023

The Bishops’ Appeal Advent and Christmas Appeal for 2023 is focussed on supporting those who are in great need in the Middle East.  The Holy Lands, the lands where Jesus himself lived and worked and worshipped.  Where he demonstrated God’s love, compassionate kindness, and saving grace through his sacrificial death on the Cross for all mankind. 

Where today the ‘little town of Bethlehem’ that we will sing about in our Carol Services is only a short distance from the devastation being experienced in Gaza, and from the kibbutz area where Hamas carried out their deadly massacre on October 7th.

Where just as 2,000 years ago Joseph and Mary had to flee with the infant Jesus to another land to escape violence and threats upon their life, so today many are having to flee from their homes to become refugees in other places, leaving behind what is left of their homes and possessions.

There is no doubt of the level of suffering that this conflict has caused, with men, women and children killed, injured, made homeless, and lives utterly devastated by the violence.

The Advent and Christmas Appeal this year asks that if you can, you give something to help those most affected.  Those fleeing Gaza as refugees, those needing emergency medical care, temporary accommodation, practical help, food, medicines, support, care. 

Our focus on the desperate needs in the Middle East enables us to partner with the United Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough who are running the ‘Shine A Light for the Diocese of Jerusalem’ campaign, and also to help with the overwhelming needs of displaced people who are now living in Lebanon as well.

Our intention is to channel the funds raised through our trusted partners on the ground – the Diocese of Jerusalem (with whom the Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough has been in relationship for a number of years) in their outreach to those impacted by war, and also to Tearfund partners working in Lebanon and in some of the areas and countries bordering Gaza and Israel where already things are precarious and extremely tense. Where there is the danger of further tension, violence and devastation erupting at any time.

We are so aware that many people have given so very generously to Bishops’ Appeal during 2023 – to the victims of the earthquakes in Syria, Turkey and Morocco, the floods in Libya, and ongoing support for the victims of the war in Ukraine, and we are so grateful to all those who have given. 

Yet as we move towards Advent and Christmas, it seems only right to maximise the focus on those in great need in the Holy Lands region and encourage those who are able to give – however small your gift may seem in the face of such unimaginable need, it will all add up, it will make a difference.  £10 or £50, €5 or €50.  It might cover an emergency food parcel, medicine, temporary shelter, or whatever the greatest need will be for that person. 

Bishops’ Appeal envelopes are available in each diocese, or donations can be made directly at this link for those who prefer to give online: https://store.ireland.anglican.org/donations/the-bishops-appeal

Drumcliffe Christmas Tree Festival

CHRISTMAS has already started at Drumcliffe Parish Church as preparations get underway for the first Drumcliffe Christmas Tree Festival in six years. The festival, which is building upon its last successful event in 2016, is taking place at Drumcliffe Church and grounds between the 7th and 12th of December.

More than 60 Christmas Trees will be erected and displayed throughout the iconic North Sligo church, which attracts 180,000 visitors annually. Organisations such as disability services, local schools, and scouting and youth groups are amongst those who are preparing trees.

The festival runs from Thursday 7th at 11am, and will continue daily until the evening of Tuesday 12th. An opening concert given by musical artist, Australian-born Sligonian, Kieran Quinn, will take place on the Thursday evening at 7pm. Other highlights include a schools’ carol service at 7pm on the Friday, a show by the Sligo Concert Band on Saturday afternoon, at 3.30pm, a community carol service on the Sunday evening at 7pm, featuring the participation of various local groups, and a showing of the classic children’s Chrismas animated short film ‘The Snowman’ at 6pm on the Monday. The committee advises all those interested in attending the carol services to arrive early as spaces will be limited. Those who cannot attend the festival in person will still have a chance to partake, as it will be streamed live around the globe.

To add to all this, there will be an outdoor live crib experience, whose sights and sounds will surely prove to be a favourite with children and adults alike, and Michelle Howley and her team at the Pink Clover café, eagerly preparing for the festival, will have something warm and tasty for those attending during that week.

Curate of Drumcliffe church, Revd. Luke Pratt, describes the Drumcliffe Christmas Tree Festival as an “exciting and community-enriching must for the calendar” and one which will “unite people at a time when togetherness is especially important, all around a celebration of the world-changing events which took place in Bethlehem 2000 years ago”.

Festival proceeds will be donated to participating local charities and Drumcliffe Church. For further information and regular updates, check the X (formerly known as Twitter) handle @drumcliffeCOI, or the festival’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/766437875254916?active_tab=about.

This is an event not to be missed!”

Love in Action trip to the Philippines August 2023.

In August 2023, Revd. Steve Frost travelled from county Leitrim to the Philippines with ‘Love in Action’, a mission founded by Revd. Steve and his wife, Canon Linda Frost. Revd. Steve has been travelling regularly to the Philippines since 2005. This year he was accompanied by his daughter Kathryn Hardingham and granddaughter Kezzia. Sarah Rice who has been teaching in Carbery School, Sligo was the fourth member of the team.

The first few days on the trip were spent in Quirino Province, at a conference for past students of a Discipleship/ Leadership training course run by Love in Actions Philippines (LinAP). Over the last 14 years, more that 1100 students have participated in this training course, attending one day a week for 40 sessions. A typhoon caused severe travel disruption which meant that many of the delegates were unable to attend. However, it was a blessed three days together for those who were able to get there. Kathryn ministered from the book of Nehemiah, challenging all those present in their on going commitment to the Lord and to ministry.

Where possible, LinAP seeks to run their Discipleship/Leadership training courses in the more remote areas to serve the churches there. Nine years ago, several students walked from a place called Nagabgaban for four hours every Saturday for 40 weeks to attend one of our training centres. Ever since then, Revd. Steve has tried to reach Nagabgaban to visit the church there. This year he finally made it. Improvements to the road mean that a 4×4 can now reach this mountain settlement in a couple of hours. It was very special to enjoy fellowship with this church and minister there. Our service on Sunday morning lasted for over three hours.

 

LINAP KIDZ, is the child sponsorship program of the Love in Action ministry. The concept of care within the family group or clan is very strong in the Philippines. However, it is often very hard for a grandparent or married sibling with their own family, who is caring for a relative’s child to finance an extra child through school. Education is technically free, but the child still needs suitable clothes, books, a bag, and all the expenses that go with education. By sponsoring such children, they are being enabled to complete their education, which gives them the possibility of employment and a way out of poverty. We had a great day of fun and fellowship with some of our LINAP KIDZ and their guardians/parents. Sarah’s skills as a teacher soon got the shyest children involved.  Kezzia got everyone involved in making braclets with a cardboard disc and strands of wool.

                      

Each of the children have their own story. May Lanie’s mother has died, and she has been taken in by a married sister who also has three of her own children, one of whom is disabled. May Lanie’s father is a labourer which means he does not have a fixed income and he also has other children to support.

It was such a blessing to have time with such wonderful people. God is at work throughout the world, as believers it is our privilege to be involved as instruments in his hands.

For more information or to support this ministry.
Visit www.linap.ie
Email info@linap.ie

Call for Global Day of Prayer and Fasting

As the war between Israel and Hamas continues, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem have issued a call for a global day of prayer and fasting tomorrow – Tuesday, 17th October.

They say: “Our beloved Holy Land has changed dramatically over the past week. We are witnessing a new cycle of violence with an unjustifiable attack against all civilians. Tensions continue to rise and more innocent and vulnerable people are paying the ultimate price as the dramatic levels of death and destruction in Gaza clearly show.”

The Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Hosam Naoum, who is a member of the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches group, said: “We pray without ceasing for justice, reconciliation, peace, and an end to hatred and war. We also pray for God to change the hearts of all leaders and decision-makers in our countries and around the world, for we are in dire need of hearts that love, show mercy, and are willing to live in unity with others – hearts that respect human dignity and choose life rather than death.”

Archbishop Naoum added: “We therefore all upon all our congregations, institutions, and parishioner families to join with our sister Churches in the Land of the Holy One in observing this coming Tuesday [17th October] as a day of Fasting and Prayer for peace, reconciliation, and an end to the war. We suggest organising prayer services and/or joining with other congregations in their services so that we can pray together with one heart and spirit.”

The Anglican Communion’s Secretary General, Bishop Anthony Poggo, has endorsed the call for a day of prayer and fasting, and is calling on Anglicans around the world to take part, saying: “Archbishop Hosam, and his ecumenical colleagues in the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches group, are in the front line of the Christian response to the ongoing catastrophe in Israel and the Gaza Strip.  I join them in calling on Christians around the world to join together in prayer and fasting on Tuesday, 17th October, in the words of Archbishop Hosam, ‘for justice, reconciliation, peace, and an end to hatred and war.’”

The Anglican Communion is an international family of 42 churches in more than 165 countries.  The staff of its international secretariat will tomorrow mark the day during their weekly Eucharist service in St Andrew’s Chapel at their offices in London.

KEA DIOCESAN SYNOD 2023

The Annual Meeting of the Diocesan Synod of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh took place this Saturday 14th October in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim. The day’s proceedings began with a celebration of Holy Communion in St George’s Church. In his sermon, based on the third chapter of Philippians,  Bishop Ferran Glenfield spoke of the Apostle Paul’s ambition and desire for the Greek church – that they know Jesus and make Jesus known.  He encouraged the congregation to keep focused on this goal and to put Jesus at the heart of all our relationships – our relationship with God and our relationships with one another and to deepen and develop these relationships by the Spirit. Following the service, the Synod moved to the nearby Bush Hotel to continue with the day’s proceedings.

At the beginning of his Presidental Address to the Synod, Bishop Ferran held a moment’s silence for Irene Graham, David Reilly and George Taylor.

In his address, the Bishop spoke of the many challenges the Diocese is facing – COVID 19 has adversely affected church attendance and there is a growth of nominalism in the church. There are strong financial currents of rocketing prices and high rates of borrowing which are a cause for concern. Globally, the threat of the climate crisis is real. The world’s atmosphere and oceans are heating up and we cannot dismiss the potential risks that arise from global warming.

Nevertheless, the Bishop’s address was full of encouragement. Although three church communities across our Diocese have closed in the wake of Covid, a new church community has arisen in the wake of the pandemic, ReCentre in Sligo which is taking steps to be a viable and sustainable community. It is a model which we in the Diocese and in the Church of Ireland need to embrace and encourage.

Despite the concerning financial outlook the Bishop commended the generosity of so many people who contribute to the life of the church. He also highlighted the, often unseen, work of organisations such as Protestant Aid and the various child-care societies across the Diocese whose interventions can be life changing for families and individuals who are struggling.

Bishop Ferran thanked all those hard at work in the diocese – in administration, finance and property, in safe-guarding, in parishes and on diocesan committees. This year, he particularly highlighted the work done by the principals, teachers, support staff and Boards of Management in the schools across the Diocese.  

Since our last Synod we have lost key people in the diocese – George Taylor, Evelyn Stafford and Dorothy Gillespie whose loss we mourn. Archdeacon Craig McCauley has also left the Diocese after two decades of exemplary work and is much missed. Bishop Ferran said the Diocese has an invaluable crew of clergy who care for people and preach the word of life by their words and lifestyle. Since last year’s Synod, we have welcomed two young clerics and their families to the ordained ministry – Revd. Sam Peilow and Revd. Luke Pratt. We are also greatly encouraged by those training for ordained ministry – Faith Sithole from Virginia and Joshua Pringle from Bailieborough. There are also currently around 20 readers currently in training under the tutelage of Revd. Nick Jones and we look forward to commissioning them for service in 2024.

Bishop Ferran, noted the signs of recovery in our engagement with children and young people in the Diocese. He particularly highlighted the reach of Youth Alpha in secondary schools in Longford and Sligo. He also noted that the Diocese is actively seeking a schools’ worker in Longford and a school chaplain in Cavan – two really positive developments.

In his address, Bishop Ferran spoke of the climate crisis reminding us that the biblical witness is that the earth is the Lord’s, not ours, nor future generations. He said that Christians should be at the forefront of caring for creation – real and sustainable change happens from the ground up and we should all be agents of that change.

Ending his address, Bishop Ferran noted that our Diocese is connected to people and lands far from our shore. He remarked on the mission trips to the Philippines and the DRC led this year by Revd. Steve Frost and Canon Patrick Bamber. He also noted that Sunday by Sunday and in our schools growing numbers of people from across the world have found a home with us. The Bishop rejoiced in this and said that it is lovely to see people from different places take roles in the life of the church.

Following the Presidential address, Synod heard greetings from the Bishop of Kilmore, Martin Hayes, who spoke on the Irish Catholic Church’s journey towards synodality, the importance of faith, reaching out to young people, being in touch with the real needs of people and of encouraging participation in the life of the church. The Bishop of Elphin, Kevin Doran spoke of the importance of introducing younger generations to Jesus and of the value of Christian Chaplaincy in carrying the message of the gospel to others. Bishop Paul Connell, who was attending the KEA Synod for the first time, mentioned the 100th anniversary of the Irish Council of Churches and the 50th anniversary of the Ballymascanlon Talks. He said that ecumenism works best when it is operating on the ground and thanked the Diocese for making St George’s available to St Mary’s during its refurbishment. Revd. David Clarke brought greetings from the Presbyterian Church in Sligo.

Ann Howard, the Mothers’ Union Diocesan President gave a wonderful report on the activities of the Mothers’ Union in the past year and encouraged parishes that do not currently have Mothers’ Union groups to get involved. Geoff Scargill spoke about the work of Protestant Aid, reminding those present that help is available to those who need it.

Revd. Ian Linton from the Church of Ireland Marriage council introduced a video on the work of the Marriage Council and informed the Synod of the supports and funding available for marriage support and enrichment. Hannah O’Neill gave an encouraging and challenging report on youth and children’s work in our Diocese. Rachael Murphy from the  Church of Ireland Board for Ministry with Children and Families highlighted some of the resources that they have made available. Stephen McElhinney from SAMS, Michael Briggs from Christian Aid, Linda Abwa from CMSI and Sean Copeland from Tearfund spoke of the work that their organisations are doing around the world.

The book of Diocesan Reports including a Statement of Accounts for the year ended 31st December 2022 is available HERE.

Bishop Ferran Glenfield’s Presidential Address in available HERE.

Looking after your mental health during difficult news events

As the present conflict in the Middle East continues, the following written prayers and remarks may be beneficial in responding in Christian faith and acknowledging our thoughts and emotions about what we see and hear in the news.  The first two are from our Book of Common Prayer:

A Prayer for the Peace of the World

Almighty God, from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed; Kindle, we pray thee, in every heart the true love of peace; and guide with thy pure and peaceable wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth; that in tranquillity thy kingdom may go forward, till the earth is filled with the knowledge of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Prayer for the Sick and Suffering

Heavenly Father, we pray for the sick and suffering. Help them to know your love that they may seek strength from you, and find peace and healing in your presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayers for Israel and Palestine

The Archbishop of Dublin and the Dublin and Glendalough Council for Mission, who maintain a close diocesan link with the Diocese of Jerusalem, have drawn together a resource for prayer and reflection which can be found and read here.

Related statements and articles

Looking after your mental health when difficult news breaks

The Mental Health Foundation has created some advice to help you cope and support your loved ones during these uncertain times, which has been shared and adapted by the MindMatters COI staff and the Church of Ireland Press Office.

When intense suffering is covered in the world news, it can affect our mental health. After learning about global events that cause uncertainty, you may feel fear, anxiety or a loss of control over your own life and plans. You may worry for the safety of strangers, loved ones or yourself. And if you have lived through similar events in the past, it may bring up traumatic memories.

Know that whatever you feel is valid.

Know that God (and others around you) cares about you and your mental health.

And know that you are not alone in this.

Staying informed – but being aware of your limits

Ask yourself – “How much information and difficult world news am I currently taking in? And how does it make me feel?”

If it’s having a negative effect on how you feel, try to:

  • take a short break from the news
  • mute or turn off news notifications on your smartphone
  • mute or unfollow social media accounts that are reporting on it
  • or limit your news intake to once a day

After you’ve had a break, ask yourself – “How do I feel now that I’ve had a space from the news?”

If you find that the break has helped, then try to continue:

  • to stay informed in bitesize portions
  • to take space from the news when you need to
  • to pause and check in on how you feel
  • to engage with different social media platforms based on how they make you feel

Over and above those, try to be intentional in how you are consuming news, and, as much as you can, avoid long ‘scrolling through’ sessions.

Try to accept that, although we may want to help or change the current situation, some of these things may be out of our control.

Seeking support in a community

If the uncertainty surrounding the news is bringing about feelings of fear and isolation, remember that there are always other people that are feeling the exact same way right now and that there are things that we can do to tackle this.

Something you can do to tackle these feelings is to connect with your local community. This can help you to feel more empowered, connected and less alone.

You can connect with your local community by:

  • getting involved in local volunteering opportunities
  • joining local groups working on issues that are important to you
  • joining a local social media group to connect with people in your local area

Humans are created and neurologically wired to connect with others. Helping others and engaging with our local community in a meaningful way is good for our mental health.

When talking with other people about world news, if a topic comes up which you disagree on, try to focus on active listening and respectful discussion. Being drawn into highly polarised or disrespectful conversations usually has an adverse effect on our wellbeing.  If a comment upsets you, try to take a break, pause the conversation and come back when you feel ready.

When you feel overwhelmed, try to reach out for support. There are people and organisations that want to help.  You may wish, for example, to talk to a friend, family member or your GP or to call a helpline such as the Samaritans.

You could also try to express how you are feeling through creativity. You could write in a journal, listen to a song, draw or dance. Express in a way that feels good for you. Try to stay with those activities for at least a few minutes to unlock their protective effects on your wellbeing.

 

Looking after your general mental health

Try to keep allocating time to things, activities and actions that are good for your mental health.

What works will be different for each person, so tune into what is right for you. Here are a few things to get your started. Try to:

  • have a healthy sleep routine
  • bring movement into your day
  • nourish your body and mind with healthy foods
  • spend quality time with friends, family and loved ones
  • connect with the natural world to help reduce stress and improve your mood

All of these can help you to feel better and to take your mind off the stress of the news cycle.

You can find out more about our MindMatters mental health awareness initiative on its website at https://mindmatters.ireland.anglican.org