Willowfield parish, Belfast, among first-ever Christian Social Action Award winners
The winners of the first-ever Christian Funders’ Forum Christian social action awards, which included Willowfield parish in East Belfast, were announced at a special ceremony on Wednesday 12th November in the historic Guards Room at Lambeth Palace. The groundbreaking event also recognised and celebrated the teams behind the key projects which have been implemented to serve their communities around the UK.
Members of the Willowfield Parish Community Association, which is based on My Lady’s Road in Belfast, were delighted to receive the award for the Best Transformative Community Project For Vulnerable Young People.
Maintenance and Mission
The Anglican Communion News Service journalist, Bellah Zulu, recently reported that the National Director of Sharing Of Ministries Abroad, Southern Africa, the Revd Christian Viljoen, told ACNS: “Clergy are often busy with so many things except obeying the command of Jesus to make disciples, but neglecting this command means that we do not see the multiplication of disciples but rather a maintenance mode.”
The slogan, ‘from maintenance to mission’, is a well known one from years gone by and it does highlight how clergy are very often so taken up with caring for their own parishioners, addressing parochial administrative concerns and overseeing parochial properties that they have so much less time for the work of pastoral outreach, breaking ‘new ground’ for the Church, as it were.
However, the criticism of clergy here seems not to take proper account of the fact that every member of the Church has his or her part to play in fulfilling Jesus’ command. It also seems to set to one side the importance of maintenance itself. Parishioners do need regular pastoral care and church properties are part of the Church’s presence in a community and have their role to play in the total witness of the Church.
Parish ‘maintenance’ is a job that has to be done because without it the parish would simply cease to function in its current expression. Maintaining the Church is not a work that is to be devalued, but the amount of time and effort that has to be expended by clergy on this work does need to be recognised. As a result of that increasing recognition, one would hope that more people would come to realise that the ministry of the Church is an ‘all-member’ ministry, a theme on which we touched in our editorial comment last week, ‘Growing the Church – By Love’.
To become engaged in the total ministry of the Church, parishioners do need to be motivated and given a real sense of the vital nature of the task that is theirs. Leading a congregation in this direction can be a challenge in itself because it will mean bringing people to think in new ways – very different, new ways – about the life of the Church and of the parish itself. Innovation is indeed often met with scepticism or, worse, scorn.
However, the Church simply cannot go on doing things in the same ways as they have always been done. The people of God are living in a changing world; they have to earn their right to be heard and they have to speak to the world – in the broadest sense of that phrase – in ways that will truly draw others closer to Christ and the fellowship of his Church. We are all in this together.
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Letters to the Editor
Remembrance Sunday and The book of Common Prayer
ON REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY this month, the first joint UK-Irish Service of Remembrance was held in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Sofia, Bulgaria. On 11th November, a similar joint service was held in the CWGC Cemetery in Plovdiv.
Both cemeteries contain many Irish soldiers (from all corners of the island) from the First World War. On both occasions, both Ambassadors welcomed those attending and spoke eloquently about reconciliation.
The Irish Ambassador described the dedication of the Cross of Sacrifice in Glasnevin Cemetery in July. The Ambassadors read lessons and prayers and the Irish Ambassador introduced the Lord’s Prayer in Irish. Buglers from the Bulgarian Army played the Last Post and Reveille. The international congregations at these services were impressed by these clear demonstrations of friendship between the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Sofia Cemetery was a particularly good place for such a joint service. On Remembrance Sunday, our ceremony is followed immediately by similar ceremonies in the German, Italian and French cemeteries, all of which are adjacent to one another. The congregation attends all the ceremonies in turn.
The morning’s sequence of ceremonies is always a memorable demonstration of shared remembrance and reconciliation. It is good that our islands can now make a special contribution to this. The British and Irish Embassies in Bulgaria value this new shared commemoration highly.
Remembrance Sunday is a significant occasion for shared reflection and commitment and, in the light of last week’s Gazette report, I hope that it will find its place again in The Book of Common Prayer.
Patrick Irwin (The Revd) Richmond Surrey TW9
The Prayer Book Society
IN THESE days of many changes in our style of worship, I thought at least some of the Gazette readers may like to know about The Prayer Book Society conference which I was blessed in attending recently in Cirencester.
Set in the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside at the Royal Agricultural University, which also houses the 1847 church dedicated to St George the Martyr, we were prayerfully and, indeed, ably instructed in a godly manner on many Prayer Book topics relating to our Christian faith. These included Baptism, Marriage, Sin and Redemption and, most importantly, the Eucharist.
We had Morning Prayer (said), sung Evensong, Matins and the Litany with Bible lessons and a sermon.
What an uplifting experience it was to hear these marvellous words and chants of praise to Almighty God and to know that we have the means of accessing them at any time by reading our Prayer Book.
We are already looking forward to more worship and fellowship at Cambridge next year.
Joan Hill (Mrs) Carrickfergus Co. Antrim BT38
ALISON ROOKE in her article, ‘Farls, fadge and communion bread’ (Gazette, 14th November), states she has been told “that the Prayer Book specifies particularly that white bread should be used in this situation” and refers to the custom in some churches of rolling bread to make it resemble the unleavened bread used in biblical times.
May I, with respect, point out that Alison has been misinformed.
Reference to the Prayer Book of 2004, p.77, ‘General Directions for Public Worship’ section 14(e) shows that what is prescribed is that “the bread to be used shall be the best and purest bread that can be obtained”. It does not specify whether the bread is to be white or brown and indeed a case can be made that brown bread is “the best and purest bread that can be obtained”, though whether soda farls come into this category may be questioned!
Reference to the issue of unleavened bread is, in my opinion, not relevant. Unleavened bread, in the form of communion wafers (lawful in certain circumstances according to the canons), can be obtained in both white and brown. Personally, I prefer the latter. The custom of ‘rolling’ bread can only be an issue in relation to the practical matter of crumbs.
The Liturgical Advisory Committee, in drawing up directions for the 2004 Prayer Book, in fact deliberately kept these as few and as simple as possible.
Michael Kennedy (Canon) 8 Vicar’s Hill Armagh BT61 7ED
Asia Bibi case
I WAS very pleased to read the Gazette editorial (issue 31st October) about Asia Bibi. It is good that Gazette readers’ attention has been brought to the terrible plight of this woman. I know that many efforts have been made, and still are being made, to have her case heard in an objective manner.
Asia’s situation is not unlike that of Meriam Ibrahim, the young Sudanese mother who was released a few weeks ago after receiving the death sentence for refusing to give up her Christian faith.
I do hope that Asia Bibi’s case can be taken up by political representation both here and across the UK. No doubt there will be representations made by organisations such as The Barnabas Fund and Open Doors which support persecuted Christians across the world. I have made representations to my local MP, David Simpson, and have had a very favourable response, stating that he has taken the matter up at Westminster.
I do hope that the Church of Ireland can make representations in regard to this particular case, perhaps at the level of the Council for Mission or Standing Committee.
Thank you again for this important editorial.
David Coe (The Revd), Lurgan Co. Armagh BT66
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