Together Again: KEA Diocesan Synod 2022

The Annual Meeting of the Diocesan Synod of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh took place this Saturday 15th 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 Nehemiah 8 v 1-12, Bishop Ferran Glenfield said that after an absence of three years we were returning to Synod after our own mini exile. Covid-19 has affected every aspect of our lives and we have lots of work to do in terms of the rebuilding and restoration of our church. This passage reminds us that infrastructure matters – the buildings, ministry, policies and investments of our church need to function properly and accountably. However, rebuilding is means to an end – we must be rebuilding the community of God on the Word of God. Following the service, the Synod moved to the nearby Bush Hotel to continue with the day’s proceedings.

At the beginning of his President’s Address to the Synod, Bishop Ferran welcomed Canon Andrew Ison and Mildred Gilmore, Wendy Lyons, Carl Kilroy and Marie Maxwell Davey from the Ballisodare Group of Parishes who were attending their first in-person Synod, since the group was transferred to KEA.

In his address, Bishop Ferran noted how much had been lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As a church we lost momentum in realising  our 20/20 vision which was launched in 2015. The aim of the 20/20 VISION was to work together to resource each local church to fulfil its role in the community. Because of Covid it has not been possible to celebrate this initiative in 2020 however there are number of significant examples of how the 20/20 VISION is working out on the ground:

  • We have reinstated three Archdeaconries in Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh. Not for Ecclesiastical decoration but to resource clusters of parishes in our widespread Diocese, actively bringing clergy together, supporting the work of Select Vestries and acting as a focus for ministry among children and young people.
  • The Diocese has, through the development of Ordained Local ministry identified, trained, authorised and deployed seven Ordained Local Ministers: John Addy, Adam Norris, Albert Dawson, Steve Frost, Xanthe Pratt, Ed Smyth and Malcolm Young. Two more are about to start their training in January 2023; Damien Shorten and Faith Sithole.
  • ReCentre Community Church in Sligo is a new church forged in partnership between Sligo Cathedral and The Church Army lead by Alan Williamson. It is a fresh expression of church in which old and new are working together for the Kingdom of God. The Church of Ireland is planning to invest in starting and supporting these new church communities across Ireland. It is the start of a journey to renew the church and reach out to people who never attend traditional church. It is hoped the KEA will be at the vanguard of this renewal.

In his address, Bishop Ferran paid tribute to all those who have worked so selflessly in two of the sectors most impacted by Covid; health and education. He noted that change is the order of the day in many of the schools under Church or Ireland patronage. New principals have been appointed in a number of National Schools in our Diocese as well as in The Royal School Cavan and Wilson’s Hospital School. He encouraged our prayers for them and their staff as they seek to deliver high quality education and uphold the Christian nature of these schools.

Bishop Ferran also spoke about the transition of the Royal School Cavan from a fee-paying school with borders to a non-fee paying day school. The aim of this move was to grow the school and to make it more sustainable for the future. In partnership with the Department of Education, a building programme has started to provide the school with modern accommodation and sports facilities.  He encouraged families in Cavan to opt for the Royal School.

Ending his address, Bishop Ferran noted that since our last gathering in 2019 we have said farewell to a number of clergy including Revd. Ali Calvin, Rev Richard Beadle, Archdeacon Isaac Hanna, Revd. David Moses  and Rev Malcom Young. He welcomed Revd. Mark Smith, Canon Andrew Ison and Dean Gerald Field who will be helping in the Roscommon Group. He thanked Damian Shorten who is stepping back from role as Diocesan Youth and Children’s Worker and wished him well as he prepares for ordained ministry. He also welcomed Warren and Annalyse Humphreys and Clare Russell who are taking up roles in ministry especially among children and young people. Bishop Ferran noted that this was the first in-person Synod since Maud Cunningham’s passing – a loss we all still feel.

As a final encouragement, Bishop Ferran noted that, while the tide for Christianity is going out in our part of the world, ‘out there on the horizon in the ocean of God’s love is a wave which will become the next incoming tide. God will see to it as he has done in the past. The tide will come back in again and we his people will rejoice’.

Following his address, Synod heard greetings from Bishop Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin who spoke of his Church’s own journey toward a synodal process. Martina Gilmartin, representing the Bishop of Kimore, Martin Hayes spoke passionately on the wonderful message the church has to offer the world.  The Synod also heard a wonderful report on the work of the Mothers Union by newly elected Mothers’ Union President, Ann Howard. In his report on Youth and Children’s Ministry, Damian Shorten spoke of the challenges churches face in reconnecting with families. Reporting on the work of the Scribe, Revd. Patrick Bamber encouraged us to read about what is happening in other parish groups and think about the bigger story we are part a small part of. Geoff Scargill from Protestant Aid encouraged members of the Synod to help find the people who were afraid to ask for support. Lydia Monds spoke of the generosity that has enabled the work of the Bishop’s Appeal and Linda Abwa from CMSI spoke of the wonderful opportunities to link with churches around the world.

– The book of Diocesan Reports including a Statement of Accounts for the year ended 31st December 2021 is available HERE.

– Bishop Ferran Glenfield’s Presidential Address in available HERE.

Dr Nicholas Liscomb, Sarah Taylor, Rita Day, Tim Roulston, Bishop Ferran, Canon Ruth West, Archdeacon Hazel Hicks

Synod opening service

MU President Ann Howard with Bishop Ferran

Wendy Lyons Revd Canon Andrew Ison, Carl Kilroy, Mildred Gilmore, representing Ballisodare Group of Parishes attending an in-person Diocesan Synod for the first time.

Victor Scott, Linda Wedlock and Warren Humphreys who will be taking up a role especially in youth and children’s ministry in Kilmore.