Christmas Message from the Bishop

In the seasons of Advent and Christmas, the writings of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, have been prominent. In one of his prophecies, Isaiah describes
the promised Messiah, the Christ, as “ Wonderful Counsellor”. He will teach people about God and the way to God. In his unique life Jesus was a masterful teacher.
As we come to the close of another year and are about to enter a New Year,
I leave you with words from Isaiah, Chapter 30, verse 21….. “your eyes will see your teacher, and your ear shall hear a word behind you saying, this is the way walk in it.”
Can I wish you a blessed Christmas and may we listen to his voice and walk his way together in 2015.

+ Ferran

Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh.

Diocesan Synod, Bishop Ferran’s Presidential Address

Members of Synod, I want to welcome you today. This is a triennial Synod and I want to acknowledge those who have served in various capacities in the past three years. To those elected and appointed for the incoming three years I offer my thanks and prayers. May I also welcome our guests from other churches, commissions and fellowships. You are most welcome. It is also good to have many of our friends from different church agencies who provide a valued role in our Synod at their stands.

Last year, as I started my episcopal ministry among you, I determined to do three things: to look, listen and learn. In so doing, I invited various stakeholders in the Dioceses to a series of Conversation Days: clergy and laity from each parish, lay and parish readers from across the Dioceses and young people from YKEA. What emerged from these conversations was a vision of what God was doing among us and where that was leading us under God. I have written about this in The Scribe, shared it at Council meetings and among Clergy and Lay ministers.

Now I want to share this Vision with you and it begins with God.

What is God’s vision for His church? To answer this we need to go back to the beginning of the church in the New Testament. In the Book of Acts, the early church, in spite of its excesses and failures, laid a template of what it is to be a living church. In Acts 2: 42-47 we see the marks of a living church.

A living church is a learning church. Its pastors teach and preach from the Scriptures. Its parents teach their children the Scriptures at home. Its members read and reflect on the Scriptures daily in order to grow in the faith.

A living church is a caring church. Those early Christians loved and cared for each other. Their lives were marked by generosity.

A living church is a worshipping church. Their worship was formal and informal, reverent and joyful. The quality of their worship acted like a magnet and drew others in.

A living church is an evangelizing church. The early church reached beyond themselves into an uncertain world. In fact in only thirty years the early church changed the world for all time with the message and love of Jesus.

God’s vision of His church has to do with relationships. A living church is an Apostolic church, which relates to the teaching of the Apostles. Secondly, a living church relates to each other, it is a caring and sharing church. Thirdly, a living church relates to God, in worship and service. Lastly, a living church relates to the world beyond in witness and action.

This is God’s vision for the church, our church and the churches in Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh.

Vision is about seeing clearly, seeing things as they are and seeing ahead. Opticians talk about 20/20 vision, meaning clarity of vision which the average person sees at 20 feet or 6 metres. Having looked at God’s vision for the church in the New Testament and having listened to what came out of the Conversations, which were reported in The Scribe and Councils, I want to offer you a 20/20 Vision for the church in Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh. The 20/20 Vision looks something like this:

Each local church should be a community which nourishes growth through worship, the Scriptures and prayer.

Each local church should be welcoming, caring and generous in raising and resourcing ministry and mission.

Each local church should be a place where ministry and mission is for all: clerical and lay, young and old. People should be trusted and trained for service within and outside the church.

Each local church should be world looking, visible and active in the community and beyond.

Each local church should be connected in prayer and partnership with each other and the worldwide church.

Each local church should prioritize children, from pre-school to third level, passing on the faith to successive generations.

Diocesan administration and structures should be relevant, accountable, representative and supportive of the local church. Diocesan resources should be released to this end.

This 20/20 Vision is a journey of what we want to be and look like by the year 2020.

How will it be realized? Already, I have asked a number of small working groups to think through the areas of administration and both clerical and lay ministries. Other groups will follow. Each working group will report back to the Diocesan Councils, who will then take the necessary decisions to forward the 2020 Vision proposals.

As your Bishop, I intend to visit each group of parishes in 2015, to share the vision and encourage a response on the ground. All this will not happen overnight; the issues will be considered, discussed and prayed through together.

It is the direction in which we are going, over the next five years to 2020. This is the Vision, the 20/20 Vision.

To return to the present, I want to thank various people.

I want to thank our clerical team for their selfless service for the Lord. I make an appeal to all to support and encourage them in their demanding work. We are privileged to have such a team in the Diocese, with privilege comes responsibility.

We said farewell to some of our clergy in the past year. To our beloved Dean Raymond Ferguson, whose godly ministry touched so many.

To the energetic Canon Derek Swan who in retirement has taken on a fresh challenge in Tuam Diocese.

We welcome the Rev. Linda Frost, ordained to serve in the South Leitrim Group of Parishes and the Rev. Ian Horner, ordained to serve in the Bailieborough Group of Parishes. Olivia Downey, an ordinand from our Diocese, was ordained in Tuam to serve in the Westport Group of Parishes.

Likewise I pay tribute to our expanded group of Diocesan Lay Readers whose ministry is vital in the Diocese. They are complimented by a growing number of parish readers whose ministry is greatly valued. The recent Resources Day brought together around one hundred people from across the Diocese, eager to develop skills, to receive training and information in order to resource their local church.

I want to convey our thanks to the Diocesan administration team. To the two Archdeacons, Craig and Ian, to Brigid, Maud and Ann as secretaries and to the treasurers: Des Lowry, William Forster, Canon Billy Stafford and John Davies. Their tireless work on our behalf is considerable and appreciated. To the many who contribute and colour the life of the Dioceses, on Councils, Committees, School Boards, and ministries – we say thank you for your devoted service. Today we remember with gratitude Dorothy Burns from Longford, who served the Dioceses faithfully for so many years. We also pay tribute to Robert Thompson from Killesher Parish who has stepped down from the Kilmore Council after many years of sterling service.

I have been focusing much of this address on Vision. I leave you with words from Proverbs 29:18 in the Old Testament. They are words for our time from The Message:

If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But if they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.


+ Ferran

Bishop Ferran giving his Presidential Address to the Synod.

Bishop Ferran giving his Presidential Address to the Synod.


Discussions during Synod.

Discussions during Synod.


The Very Rev. Dr. Chuck Owens, addressing the Synod.

The Very Rev. Dr. Chuck Owens, addressing the Synod.




Letter from the Bishop | Scribe Oct 2014

Have you noticed that people and places in the Dioceses have been in the news in recent times?

Take the focus on Longford for example with the passing of the former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds.

The challenges of up-keeping Crom Castle in County Fermanagh were also the focus of media attention. Viscount Crichton whose family have been living in Crom for 350 years was the subject of a documentary “Keeping the Castle” shown by the BBC.

Sadly Florence Court (in Florencecourt Group) on the other side of Lough Erne was in the news because of an arson attack on a beautiful rustic summerhouse.

Sligo, too, was the centre of attention with the annual Fleadh Cheoil, which brought traditional music to its streets. Over in Roscommon, Boyle was featured in an Irish Times’ piece about the plight of “forgotten towns”. Nearby Carrick-on-Shannon in County Leitrim felt the pinch of redundancy as the MBNA Bank reduced its workforce in the town.

People and places feature heavily in the story of God in the Bible. Out of the debris of Eden when people turned their back on the Creator God, He takes the initiative. From an elderly couple, Abraham and Sarah, God promises a people who will have a place on the earth. Israel, the people of God as they became, are to be a blessing to the peoples of the earth.

Jesus takes up this theme in His Sermon on the Mount, found in the Gospel of Matthew. Speaking to His people, the Church, Jesus describes their essential character. They are to be salt and light, metaphors, which indicate their influence for good in the world.

As salt, the Church was to penetrate the world, to savour and to restrain the world’s tendency to deteriorate. Light illuminates the darkness, which permeates the world.

Through the Dioceses, each church, a distinct local community of faith, exists to be salt and light: as salt being distinct yet part of the community bringing flavour and keeping things from decay. Likewise, light shines as a beacon of truth and love for Jesus.

How can we be salt and light among the people and places where God has located us? Prayer functions like salt through which God works in a community. Outreach and social action also act like light in a place.

Reaching out to people draws them into the light of Christ. Working together for the good of all in the community is a practical example of what matters to Jesus.

Salt and light, that’s what Jesus says we are and what we should be among the people and places he has placed us.

+ Bishop Ferran

Resources Day in Carrick On Shannon

About 100 people from across the Dioceses of Kilmore, Elphin & Ardagh attended a Resources Day in The Bush Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon on Saturday 27th September organized by the dioceses to help parishes to be better equipped for parish development. Workshops were held on Youth Ministry, Children’s Ministry, Community Outreach, Lay Ministry, Parish Development, Information Technology and Finances.

ResourcesDay_27thSept2014_Bishop Ferran giving an introduction

Bishop Mark Lawrence

Bishop writes about his trip to South Carolina

South Carolina Visit, May 2014

For a number of years now the dioceses of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh, has had a warm working relationship with the diocese of South Carolina in the United States. This relationship grew from Bishop Ken and Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina (pictured above) meeting at the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops. Over the years people from both dioceses have crossed the Atlantic to further the relationship.


Last month, I was the latest to visit South Carolina. It was my first time there. What did I find? On a personal level, I was met by warmth and friendliness. People could not have been more welcoming and considerate. I felt very much at home. It was a reminder to me that we belong to God’s Big Family—we have brothers and sisters the world over, in this case in South Carolina.


Secondly, I found the place warm in terms of climate. Can you remember the great days of last summer? Well most days in my stay were like that, clear blue skies with temperatures in the mid-20s. Warm but not too hot. When it rained, as it did occasionally, it down poured for about 15 minutes before the normal sunshine resumed. The parish that I stayed in Bluffton, was warm as well. In the seventies, the county surrounding Bluffton was a kind of backwater. At that time around 50 people normally attended Sunday worship in an historic wooden church by the river. Then the area started to develop as a tourist destination with good weather, lovely beaches and big rivers. It became popular with the over 50s as a retirement resort. People then began to move and settle in the area as infrastructure and reputation was built. In the nineties, the Rev. Chuck Owens, was appointed rector of Bluffton. Chuck came from a teaching background and he and his wife Becky began to mobilise the modest and oldish congregation.


Since then the parish has taken off based on the Biblical principles enshrined in the Book of Common Prayer. Today, some 1500 people worship most Sundays in two centres in the parish. I preached at 3 services in the historic church: one at 5:28, ‘Gracetime’ on Saturday evening. Then at the 8am and 10am Holy Communion services on Sunday. These were Prayer Book services that we would recognize although done in a distinctive style. I also managed to catch a bit of the 9 am service held in the parish school, which was contemporary and informal in style. Since Easter of this year, a second service at the school has started to cope with ever increasing numbers. In 15 years things in Bluffton parish have flourished.


What do you put that down to? They are Christ-centred, take the Bible seriously, have inspiring leadership (clerical and lay), get involved, are outward looking and generous in Spirit. As a result, they have grown not just numerically but also in depth as well. We could learn so much in the dioceses from their experience, for they not so long ago were very much like many of our parishes.


I also had the privilege of meeting Bishop Mark, who lives in Charleston (of the dance fame). He is a very courageous church leader, who has overseen the diocese disassociating itself from the American Episcopal Church (TEC). Indeed 4 other dioceses have had to take the same course of action. Although independent of TEC, the diocese takes its place in worldwide Anglicanism.


What happened for this divorce to take place? Dioceses like South Carolina saw TEC drifting away from its historic and Biblical roots. TEC was driving a social and cultural agenda which was at serious odds against the Scriptures. Bishop Mark put it like this….. “When there is no norm, what guards one generation to the next? The Word of God is our anchor in the sea of cultural confusion”.


I returned from South Carolina refreshed and strengthened in faith. I wish to continue and develop our links. In the isolated place they find themselves through no fault of their own, they need friends in the Anglican Communion. I assured Bishop Mark, that we would be firm friends. In a changing world we need to learn from them how to be principled and how to be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ. Will you join me to pray for:


  • Bishop Mark Lawrence
  • Very Rev. Chuck Owens
  • The Diocese of South Carolina as a whole
  • The Church of the Cross, Bluffton


Like me, why don’t you follow their story on the diocesan and parish websites and commit to support them as partners in prayer.

Logo_TheChurchOfTheCrossChurch of the Cross:

Diocese of South Carolina:

+ Ferran


Bishop Ferran, Bishop Mark Lawrence, Rev Chuck Owens

Bishop visits South Carolina

South Carolina Visit, May 2014

Bishop Ferran met up with Bishop Mark Lawrence (left) of the Diocese of South Carolina, while visiting The Church of the Cross, Bluffton for the first time. KEA have had a fruitful partnership with The Church of the Cross and with their rector, Very Rev. Chuck Owens (centre), for a few years now.

Bishop Ferran preached a sermon entitled ‘The Road Home’ (click here to listen) at the Historic Campus during his visit to The Church of the Cross.