10 May 2018

Three days in Armagh
at the General Synod of
the Church of Ireland

The Ascension depicted in an Oppenheimer mosaic in Saint Mary’s Church, Listowel … the General Synod of the Church of Ireland opens in Armagh this morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

Today is Ascension Day. After a long day in London yesterday for a meeting of the Trustees of the Anglican mission agency, USPG (United Society, Partners in the Gospel), I am travelling to Armagh this morning [10 May 2018] for the General Synod of the Church of Ireland.

The General Synod begins in Armagh City Hotel this morning and continues until Saturday [12 May 2018]. The preacher at the Synod Service in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral this morning is the Bishop of Clogher, the Right Revd John McDowell, and the Synod’s chaplain is Canon Shane Forster.

In addition to reports from the Standing Committee and the Representative Church Body, the Synod is considering proposed legislation for an order for Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer for use on Sundays, for adult safeguarding, and for ecumenical and lay canons in Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork.

Of particular interest in my own diocese and parish are the bills to provide for the future unification of the Diocese of Limerick and Killaloe and the Diocese of Tuam, Killala and Achonry, and to amend the diocesan representation at General Synod.

In the context of the report of the Standing Committee, a new ‘prayer app’ will be launched today. This is an initiative of the Bishop of Meath and Kildare, Bishop Pat Storey, and has been developed through the Central Communications Board.

A book of reflections by Bishop Michael Burrows of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory, on the subject of the empowerment of women through literacy, is being launched today too. Over seven days last September, Bishop Burrows visited 66 churches and schools giving a short sermon at each venue related to one of the 66 books of the Bible.

The Council for Mission is hosting a Mission Breakfast tomorrow morning [11 May 2018] at which the guest speaker will be the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland.

The Revd John Bell, a member of the Iona Community, Presbyterian minister, broadcaster and hymnwriter, is the speaker at lunchtime event organised tomorrow by Changing Attitude Ireland. He is speaking on ‘God, Delight and Diversity’, and promises to explore problematic approaches to Scripture, the created order as diverse by design, and the need for the laity to have their intelligence, experience and aspirations inform the Church’s deliberations on sexuality.

The Church of Ireland Bishops’ Appeal is launching a limited edition calendar for 2019 at General Synod to support community initiatives in the developing world throughout next year. The calendar also marks the 150th anniversary of the Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, and each month provides a reflection from the 12 bishops on issues or projects that have been supported by Bishops’ Appeal over the years.

Bishop Patrick Rooke of Tuam has said: ‘Throughout those 150 years, this Church has worked to support the disadvantaged in some of the poorest parts of the world. The calendar is both a celebration of that partnership but also a reminder of how life is for so many. Those who purchase a calendar will be supporting this ongoing work as we seek to bring relief to disaster situations as well as supporting health, education and rural development projects.’

Next year, General Synod will take place in the Millennium Forum, Derry, on 16-18 May 2019. General Synod 2020 takes place in Croke Park on 7-9 May 2020.

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