New Church of Ireland website launched to support ministry to children
The Sunday School Society for Ireland and the Children’s Ministry Network last week came together to launch a new website for children’s ministry.
The website – www.cm.ireland.anglican.org – has information about the Sunday School Society and the Children’s Ministry Network, as well as news of events being run by both organisations, locally and nationally.
Additional information on resources and supplementary materials are also available. There are, among others, sections on Sunday School books and curriculum, crafts, creative prayer, music and action stories and Lectionary resources.
Those working in the area of children’s ministry are also encouraged to contribute their own teaching and learning ideas through the children’s ministry Facebook page.
Lydia Monds, the Sunday School Society’s Children’s Ministry Development Officer, explained that the new website represented a coming together of the sites of the Sunday School Society and the Children’s Ministry Network.
A NEW LOOK FOR THE GAZETTE
This week, the Gazette moves to a new and much larger page format. Although there are fewer pages, there is more space. We trust that readers will enjoy the new presentation of our material and we take this opportunity of paying tribute to all who work with us to produce, deliver and promote our 158-year-old newspaper. Indeed, some readers will recall the days when the Gazette was in a larger page format, similar to this size. It is perhaps, in that sense, a case of things coming ‘full circle’.
Outside our own independent organisation, our closest associates are the Church of Ireland Press Office and the diocesan communications officers. That ongoing collaboration is very much appreciated.
Of course, nowadays all newspapers are facing considerable competition, especially with Internet news being immediately available from all around the world. The online world creates many new possibilities for communication, but we believe that a weekly newspaper has its own, distinctive role to play, such as in selecting news, providing added reporting and analysis, presenting features and carrying editorial comment.
A newspaper’s role is not only to inform but is also to stimulate wider discussion and thereby help in the natural development of thinking in society at large. As the world moves forward, and as the Church moves forward, there are many issues to be confronted and to do this we need not only to exchange ideas but also to allow ourselves to be challenged in the experience. Through the refining process of thoughtful exchange, hopefully, individuals come to a clearer understanding of the truth and to a clearer vision of the way in which God is calling.
At the Gazette, we see a challenging but also an exciting future as a Church newspaper; we also see the same for the Church of Ireland itself. At times there are difficulties – and we know all about that in national Church life, in diocesan life and in parochial life. Where there is numerical decline, focusing clearly on spiritual things – the things that really matter – is the first step in facing such a challenge. Where there is numerical growth, there is the challenge of yet more demanding ministry. Not least if the Church of Ireland is to be an example to the world outside its own confines, we must face any divisions we may have with an absolute commitment to recognise Christ in one another. If every member of the Church of Ireland fixes his or her attention on the Lord of the Church, the future for the Church is, without any shadow of doubt, sure and good and full of hope.
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Letters to the Editor
Newtownabbey play Controversy
Your short report (7th February) on the recent controversy in Newtownabbey over the banning of a play, ‘The Bible: the Complete Word of God (abridged)’, did not fully explain the context of the controversy. The decision to withdraw this play was taken after members of the DUP and UUP indicated that they wanted the play “pulled” and banned because it was “crude and blasphemous”.
One councillor said that the show “made a mockery of the Word of God which we as Christians hold dear”.
The committee which had booked the production bowed to the inevitable and withdrew the production. The outrage at fundamentalists blocking such entertainment on the basis of their narrow religious views had “made Northern Ireland a laughing stock”, according to an editorial in the Belfast Telegraph.
The public response to the news that the play had been banned was such that those who had queued up to have it banned realised that this was no longer sustainable. When the play was reinstated, it was a sell-out. Having attended the play, I struggle with the criticism levied against it. In many respects, it was tamer than ‘The Life of Brian’, which caused similar rage from fundamentalists all those decades ago.
The wider point is that those attacking the play had not seen it and were not forced to go to see it and are entitled to their views. However, they are not entitled to decide in a democratic society what we say and what form of entertainment we should be entitled to enjoy.
Tom Campbell (Cllr) Alliance Party Newtownabbey Borough Council Mossley Mill Newtownabbey BT36 5QA
Bethany Home Ceremony invitation
I would be grateful for the opportunity of both informing and inviting readers of the Gazette to a very special and poignant event which will take place next month.
On 2nd April, at Mount Jerome Cemetery in Dublin, a service will take place in honour of 222 babies and young children who died in the Bethany Home, Orwell Road, Dublin, during 1922-1949. The service will commence at 4.00pm and we are delighted that representatives from four of the main Christian denominations will be participating.
In addition, we are pleased to be able to announce that following the service, a memorial headstone will be unveiled at the cemetery. We wish to acknowledge that the considerable cost of the headstone has been met by the Department for Justice, sanctioned by Minister Alan Shatter.
For too long, the short lives of these children have been unacknowledged, unnamed and their remains unmarked. It is highly appropriate that at last we can now rectify this situation and that all of us have the opportunity to pay our respects and to remember jointly a very sad occurrence in our history. I therefore heartily extend an invitation to all to join with us on this very special day.
Derek Linster Chair, Bethany Survivors Group 42 Southey Road Rugby CV22 6HF England
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- Christian Aid Lent app.
The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Nicholas Baines (pictured), has taken The Independent newspaper to task over its attitude to the Church.
Referring in his Internet blog, ‘Musings of a restless bishop’, to The Independent’s 21st February editorial, headlined, “Britain’s poorest are suffering terribly. But clerics have no special authority in political debates about their welfare”, Bishop Baines quotes the newspaper: “It is difficult for an archbishop’s remonstrances on the subject of the poor and hungry to be anything but the final moral word, and yet they are subject to the same limitations as any other political perspective … But anecdotal evidence metamorphosed into an unassailable moral position via an institution that no longer represents more than a tiny fraction of the population does more harm than good.”
Bishop Baines asks: “Does the editor really believe that bishops should simply keep quiet about anything in the public square?” He also asks if The Independent is “employing five-year-olds” to write leader editorials and accuses the editorial writer of 21st February of “unarticulated and uncritical prejudice”.
In an earlier blog post (29th July 2013), regarding The Independent’s 23rd July editorial, headlined, “Payday lenders? The Church should keep to matters spiritual”, Bishop Baines asked if the newspaper was “really suggesting that only elected politicians should have a voice in society”, adding: “How did such nonsense get through the editorial desk?” The Gazette asked The Independent last week for its response to Bishop Baines’ points, but we had not received any comment at the time of our going to press.
• Last month, the Queen approved the nomination of Bishop Baines for election as the new Bishop of Leeds, following the restructuring of the Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield into the Diocese of Leeds (West Yorkshire and the Dales). He will become the diocesan and area Bishop of Leeds upon the confirmation of his election on 8th June.