11 May 2013

Welcoming ecumenical guests at the General Synod in Armagh

The President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, Revd Ken Lindsay, addressing the General Synod in Armagh

Patrick Comerford

One of my roles at the General Synod of the Church of Ireland in Armagh this year was as one of the hosts for the ecumenical guests.

It was a particular pleasure to be sitting with the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Revd Ken Lindsay, this morning when the General Synod cleared the way for the Covenant Council’s Bill on the inter-changeability of ministries between the Church of Ireland the Methodist Church in Ireland.

The Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Richard Clarke, said that the proposal allowing for the introduction of a special Bill at next year’s General Synod [2014] may be the most significant thing done at this Synod. “We are blazing a trail for other Churches,” he told the General Synod.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, said the Churches were now entering a more concrete situation where we can move forward together.

Motion 20 allows for a Special Bill to be brought to the General Synod in 2014 on the inter-changeability of ministry between the Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland. It was proposed by the Dean of Cork, the Very Revd Nigel Dunne

After lunch, the Revd Ken Lindsay, President of the Methodist Church, spoke at the final session of synod, when he said he was looking forward to bringing back news of the overwhelming support for the inter-changeability of ministry. “I came as an outsider and I’m going away as one of you,” he said.

The Ven Shirley Griffiths, Archdeacon of St Asaph, who was the visitor from the Church in Wales, she said she had found this year’s General Synod a very interesting meeting because the Church of Ireland was grappling with the same issues as the Church in Wales, including rural issues, financial issues, ministerial issues.

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin’s ecumenical adviser, Father Kieran McDermott, who was also a visitor this year, brought warm greetings from the Roman Catholic Church this morning. Referring to Archbishop Clarke’s presidential address, in which we were reminded of the effects of poverty on society, particularly on children, Father Ciaran said this should be a priority for churches and it should exercise the churches into action. “It is a mark of a functioning society that children can grow up to become possible – to become the person God created them to be,” he said.

The guests and visitors from other churches at the General Synod this year were:

Father Kieran McDermott and Father Pádraig Murphy, the Roman Catholic Church; the Ven Shirley Griffiths, Archdeacon of St Asaph, the Church in Wales; the Revd Kenneth Lindsay, President, and Mr John Buchanan, the Methodist Church in Ireland; the Very Revd Dr Ivan Patterson, former moderator, and Mr Eddie Megaw, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland; the Revd Sarah Groves, the Moravian Church of Britain and Ireland; Father Hegomen Athanasius George, the Coptic Orthodox Church in Ireland; and Pastor Eva Peper, the Lutheran Church in Ireland.

The annual media awards were presented by Archbishop Clarke immediately after lunch this afternoon. In the ‘Social Media’ category, my Facebook page was runner-up; in the ‘Blogs’ category, this blog was ‘Highly Commended.’

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