God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble Ps. 46:1
The Annual Meeting of the Diocesan Synod of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh took place this Saturday 16th October via Zoom Conference. It is the second year in a row that we have been able to meet in person.
In his Presidential Speech to the Synod, the Rt Revd Dr Ferran Glenfield noted the manner in which the past year has been dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Church life was disrupted by Covid restrictions – unable to meet in person for the first five months of 2021, Sunday and seasonal worship was conducted online. Bishop Ferran acknowledged the ingenuity of clergy and laity who enabled participation in worship and learning remotely. Likewise, he commended our clergy and lay pastors who conducted their pastoral ministry under very different circumstances and rules. Bishop Ferran said that Covid 19 has taken a heavy toll on people, parishes and the nation. We continue to look to Almighty God, our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.
Bishop Ferran also payed tribute to the teams of people who have made it possible to return to church. He expressed hope that, as Covid restrictions are eased later this month, we would be able to worship more fully and to use our halls and properties for parish and community activities. However, he noted that vigilance was still necessary to protect on another as winter approaches.
Bishop Ferran went on to highlight a number of items for the Synod’s consideration.
Welcoming the Balisodare Group of Parishes
At the beginning of November the Balisodare Group of Parishes will join the Diocese. At the same time the Diocese of Tuam, Killala and Achonry and the Diocese of Limerick and Killaloe will amalgamate. He wished both Bishop Patrick Rook and Bishop Kenneth Kearon a happy retirement and the new Diocese God’s blessings as they come together.
Ordained Local Ministry
Bishop Ferran noted that the emergence of Ordained Local Ministry in the diocese is a real dividend for parishes. There are seven OLMs mostly active in Elphin and Ardagh. They are ministers in the fullest sense of the word. It is a ministry, authorised by the Church and for which training has been undertaken. It is a self-supporting ministry, no stipends are paid, although expenses are provided. It is a collaborative ministry. An OLM is part of a team of clergy and lay ministers overseen by a stipendiary minister. The ministry of an OLM is not simply about filling gaps but intended to expand the reach of the local church into the community. Bishop Ferran commended this ministry for support and prayers.
Bishop Ferran remarked that the life of our schools were deeply disturbed by Covid-19. He praised and thanked principals, teachers, support staff, board members and parents in their herculean efforts to deliver education to our children. He noted that our schools are places of learning, belonging and faith formation and are to be valued.
ReCentre Community Church
One of the positive outcomes of online church services and studies was that people outside of our parish community were able to join in. Our reach beyond the four walls was considerable. As Covid recedes we need to keep the balance between the inside and the outside. Jesus Christ is for all and he commissioned his church to reach the world beyond itself. One new church to gather online was ReCenter Community Church. ReCentre is now going to gather in person in Sligo under the leadership of Alan Williamson. It is what is known as a Fresh Expression of Church – something new which appeals to people who have no or little contact with the conventional church. This is the Diocese’s first step in this field and Bishop Ferran noted his gratitude for the partnership between Dear Arfon Williams, Rector of the Cathedral Group and Church Army, who sponsor Alan’s ministry.
Looking ahead to 2022, Bishop Ferran noted a number of areas to prioritise:
- The renewal of confidence, faith and hope in local churches.
- The restoration of parish and diocesan finances.
- The confirmation backlog and a review of our work with children and young people
- The training of parish and diocesan readers.
- The implementation of Safeguarding standards for children, young people and vulnerable adults.
- The adoption of practical proposals to make our parishes more environmentally friendly.
In conclusion he noted that, while this past year has been one of frustration, there is much to be thankful for and much to do. God has been our rock and strength and he holds all the resources we require; we need to look to him.
Following the Presidential address, the Revd. Dr Andew Ison, Ryector of the Ballisodare Group of Parishes was invited to address the Diocese. Using the power of technology he was able to give the Synod a tour of the three churches that make up this group – Holy Trinity, Ballisodare, St Paul’s Church, Collooney & Emlaghfad Church, Ballymote. In his address to Synod, Revd. Andrew noted the close links of proximity, history and relationships that already exist. He thanked Bishop Patrick Rooke for facilitating the transfer and Bishop Ferran for so graciously welcoming the group of parishes. Bishop Ferran urged the Synod to embrace the Ballisodare Group into our Diocese and noted that he would be visiting the churches on the first Sunday in November.
In other Synod business, a motion to recreate the post of Archdeacon of Ardagh was passed.