Irish Times Notes

Published on 8 June 2019

Summer issue of SEARCH

The summer issue of the Church of Ireland journal, SEARCH, edited by Canon Ginnie Kennerley, is largely devoted to the proceedings of last March’s ‘Developing Ministry’ colloquium hosted by SEARCH. ‘What is the Spirit saying to the Church?’ The question was constantly repeated at the colloquium but less heard were the questions: ‘And are we listening? And if so, what are we doing about it?’

Facing up to facts is not yet spiritual discernment, but it’s a helpful staging post on the way. Among the challenging facts of today: church-going is seriously in decline; unbelief is rising; there is too much clergy breakdown and too few new vocations; rural parishes are inadequately serviced; and for all our talk about collaborative, lay-inclusive, ministry, our inherited structures inhibit it and clergy tend to resist it, to resist even sharing with each other.

The keynote speaker, Canon David Hewlett, not only made sure participants faced up to these facts; he also warned not to expect to overcome them by fiddling with administrative detail. Ordained Local Ministry, for instance, would not get the Church out of trouble if regarded it simply as a parochial gap-filler. Unless rooted in a new, more inclusive understanding of the Church’s ministry, it would fail in Ireland just as it largely had in England.

Bishop Michael Burrows, who chaired the colloquium, gave voice to his hope that out of the rich pooling of ideas and experience that day there would emerge “two or three hatchable eggs” to enrich and even transform the life of the Church. But he also took to heart David Hewlett’s warning that a certain death had to precede any sort of resurrection, and that the Spirit might be telling us to let go old ways that now obstructed the future of the Church.

The areas of vocational discernment, selection for ordination, appropriate ministerial training, and post-ordination deployment and spiritual support were all covered in the sessions following the keynote address. All are crucial to the Church’s future, and all require us to listen to the leading of the Spirit.

Subscription details for SEARCH can be found at

Today (Saturday) the Cork, Cloyne & Ross Diocesan Synod will be held in the Cork International Airport Hotel. In the Diocese of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh a training day for the Gathered in harvest outreach will take place today in the Royal School, Cavan. Clergy and lay readers from the same diocese will gather in CITI for a residential from 12-14 June to explore Fresh Expressions of church. This is part of the IDLE process which is taking shape across the Church of Ireland in relation to Fresh Expressions.

Tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon at 3pm, the Feast of Pentecost, the annual ecumenical service that has customarily been led by both Bishops of Clogher will take place at St Molua’s Church, Magheracloone, Co. Monaghan. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Clogher, the Most Revd Lawrence Duffy, and the Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher, the Rt Revd John McDowell, will lead the service, together with local clergy. Bishop Duffy will give the address. In the evening, at 6pm, the Archbishop of Dublin will re-dedicate the organ in St Philip’s Church, Milltown, where the organist is Dr David O’Shea.

On Thursday afternoon, in Clonliffe College, as part of Ecumenical Bible Week 2019, the Archbishop of Dublin will chair a symposium ‘How can we be a Christian in Ireland today? – Voices of Hope in a secularised Ireland’.

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