COI Gazette – 22nd June 2018

Church fund to “inspire a new Welsh revival”

Bishop Andy John (Photo: Church in Wales)

Bishop Andy John (Photo: Church in Wales)

The Church in Wales has announced a new £10 million scheme to help its six dioceses fund new evangelism projects.

The Church in Wales’ first ever Evangelism Fund has the aim of engaging “Welsh society with the claims of the Christian faith in vibrant and exciting ways.” The fund will provide grants of between £250,000 and £3 million for diocesan projects
that “will focus on people rather than buildings,” the Church in Wales said.

“We are putting our money where our mouth is,” the Archbishop of Wales, John Davies, said. “We have long talked about growing the church and now we want to invest in projects across the country to enable that to happen. It is a radical answer to the decline we are experiencing in many places and £10 million is a transforming amount.


Editorial

A NEW IRISH REVIVAL?

The launch of an Evangelism Fund by the Church in Wales is eye catching for several reasons (see front page). When a denomination decides to invest £10 million in something new, then we start to notice. If they say the fund will “focus on people rather than buildings,” our interest is pricked some more. When the Church in Wales says the fund is intended as “a radical answer to the decline we are experiencing in many places,” then it really has our attention.

Back in 1977, the Representative Body of the Church of Ireland “decided there was a need for an urgent review of the priorities involved in the stewardship of the material resources of the Church.

In 1979, a committee was formed which produced a report entitled ‘First of all’, which identified a number of problem areas within the Church of Ireland. The report suggested that the first priority should be the spiritual revival of the Church through ministry, Christian education, etc. It stated that new money had to be found if this spiritual revival was to be implemented. As a direct result of this report, the Priorities Fund was established in 1980 (http:// priorities.ireland.anglican.org).

In the years since its foundation, the Priorities Fund has given over €18 million, raised from parishes and dioceses, to projects within the Church of Ireland. The values are people not buildings, as well as mission and outreach rather than maintenance.

It is remarkably similar to the new Church in Wales’ Evangelism Fund. We are grateful for the foresight of those in the 1970s and ’80s that saw the place of funding in inspiring mission. We also recognise the initiatives that have been made possible by millions of Euro/Sterling given over the past decades.

As we look at the Welsh initiative, is the challenge for the Church of Ireland that we need to set up a new fund of some sort? The simple answer is … No. If the need is not the generating of more funds, then what might it be?

The Church of Ireland is beginning to recognise the need for evangelism and church growth – to hand on the faith to the next generation. A simple look across the denomination shows that most of our dioceses are beginning to respond to this in some way.

What is missing is the sense that a properly resourced person or team exists centrally – where the task is to think, imagine and be an intelligent catalyst for the new models of mission and outreach that are required.

We are not suggesting the creation of the undoable job – to say to a team that they have the job of mission across the island, thus absolving the rest of us from the task. Nor is it to say that mission is anything other than local – to a diocese or parish. Rather, it is to say that if evangelism and church growth are genuine priorities, then they are worth investing in strategically, at central level. It is a statement of intent that the rest of us will not miss.


 

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Letters to the editor

Eighth Amendment referendum

“SADLY, WITH the potential destruction of at least a generation of Ireland’s unborn…” (Revd Alaistair Donaldson – Gazette, 8th June 2018). I have not read a sentence that more effectively insults the women of child- bearing age in the Republic.

Thankfully, exceedingly few of them will read it, but that is no reason why it should go unchallenged.

We all pray that abortions will be safe, legal and rare. Trust women in the Republic to make the right decisions for themselves and their families. The new laws will not open the floodgates of abortion, as many suggest. Hold back on the hysterical outbursts please.
They are offensive.
The result of the referendum

means that instead of exporting a problem that we did not want to face, we have become more mature and are taking responsibility for the implications of full female autonomy – that women and men together bear the awesome responsibility and joy of bringing new life into the world, with the woman having the ultimate right to decide the time when she might become a mother and freely offer the hospitality of her body and her home to a new person of the next generation.

Legislation severely punishing a woman for refusing to offer such hospitality following a
crisis pregnancy has thankfully been repealed.

With the current birth rate in the Republic one of the highest in Europe (even with the outsourced abortions to the UK), I do not think we are in danger of any “potential destruction” of the next generation.

Moreover, though it did not appear in public conversations, I think we should remember that many of the women who chose abortion following a crisis pregnancy then later had desired-for pregnancies which went to term.
Marie Rowley-Brooke
(Canon)

Nenagh Co. Tipperary

Pilgrimage of hope to Messines

I WAS very moved by the two reports in your paper about the archbishops leading a cross-community group on a commemorative tour of some World War I battle sites, where many Irish fought and died. I have visited the Somme area myself, where my great-uncle is buried.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Messines Ridge, I composed an acrostic poem last year.

In Memory of the 36th Ulster and 16th Irish:

MESSINES

Men of Ulster, men of Ireland,

Enter now this battle scene;

Some are here for God and Ulster,
Some joined up for Ireland green …
In this battle they’re united,

Not a blade of grass between:

Ever let them be remembered,

Strong together at Messines.

Helen Long Belfast Co. Down

PCI same-sex decisions

IT WAS with great sadness and upset that I learned of the decision of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI), to exclude lesbian, gay and bisexual people in relationships from membership of that Church (see: https://www. bbc.com/news/uk-northern- ireland-44412860).

It has further decided that the children of LGB people will not be welcomed to the sacrament of Christian baptism, and gives permission to church elders to question an individual about their sexuality to ensure that they are worthy of membership.

While I agree that it is a matter for the ordinary members of the PCI to challenge, this institutional homophobia with their church leaders, and that the Church of Ireland respects the right of the PCI to create its own policy, we cannot simply remain silent or neutral on such a human rights violation.

We are a Church that respects the dignity of all of God’s children. Whilst there are different opinions on the matter of human sexuality within our Church, I know that those who oppose same-sex marriage and indeed the ordination of gay clergy, would not support the exclusion from God’s Church of a whole swathe of humanity based on their sexual orientation.

A practical measure would be for Standing Committee to refrain from inviting a representative of the PCI to General Synod 2019 in Derry, and I think that this should be given active consideration
Leo Kilroy
(Dr)

Greenane Co. Wicklow

Out of step

OUT OF step. Out of step with both feet and out of step, with both their congregations and public opinion. Whom are the church leaders leading and where are they leading them? Is it further into oblivion?

In straw polls at church tea and biscuits, the generally professional, third-level educated respondents were almost all ‘Yes’ voters, even those of the older generations like myself.

However, no panic, their
attitude towards our clergy was not condemnation, rather an amused toleration. “I think they are just out of step with ordinary people,” was one comment.

This writer, though, is of the less tolerant camp. Same-sex marriage and now abortion rights. It really does seem to me that many of our church leaders might begin to consider their position.

Robert Irwin Limerick Co. Limerick


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