A Look Back at Dublin & Glendalough Synod 2017
Huge Range of Work of the Dioceses Presented at Dublin & Glendalough Synods. This article originally appeared in the December 2017 edition of the Church Review.
All that is good about the spider’s web was used as a symbol for the work of Dublin & Glendalough at Diocesan Synod in Taney Parish Centre in October. Proposing the Report of Diocesan Councils, Canon Adrienne Galligan said it highlighted the huge range of work and ministry carried on in the dioceses.
“Mostly we think of webs as death traps for unsuspecting insects: but I would prefer to view it from the point of view of the newly discovered medicinal properties that this durable, flexible, functional, tensile, communicating device, all of which silk weave is, and offers the world. Our dioceses also have those attributes of durability, flexibility, communication, functionality and rigour. Applying the science of our Creator God in the form of the enzymes, proteins and vitamin k that spider silk contains offers repair to damaged heart tissue and enables the heart muscle cells to regenerate and repair. That is our purpose as the Body of Christ in the world: Proclaiming the Good News of our Christian hope and faith we offer repair, ease, listening, restoration and the discovery of the possible to parishes and the communities in the part of the world we inhabit and the wider world beyond Dublin and Glendalough,” she said.
Canon Galligan emphasised developments in children’s, youth and young adults’ ministry and in Third Level Chaplaincy. Projects including the development of Come&C around the Five Marks of Mission and the partnership with the Irish Refugee Council and Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza were raised. The gold silk thread of development, adaptation, flexibility and durability was being applied for the benefit of many, she stated.
A web needs a minimum of seven radial threads, like guy ropes, to secure the eventual construction to its surroundings, Canon Galligan said. She suggested the seven radial threads of ministry as celebrated in the report of Diocesan Councils were: Ministry to children, young adults and third level students and child protection; Lay ministry and training; Diocesan outreach and worship; Pastoral responses to elderly members, hospital chaplaincy and the homelessness initiative; Fabric, finances (parish life, clergy life), furnishings – RB supports and requirements; Mission statement, communication and evaluation; Opportunities for personal journeys of faith through baptism, confirmation, the Camino de Glendalough and Santiago, pilgrimage and ecumenism.
“At the centre of all this work, ministry, aspiration and dedication, who connects the entire structure, is Christ, our Saviour and Lord and motivator,” she said.
Among the items raised in the discussion of the report were: youth ministry, a suggestion to hold Synod on a Saturday to suit young adults, the CIYD Christmas event in Clontarf, the Camino de Glendalough, solemnising marriages in places other than churches, Garda vetting for all working with young people, the Church Review, hospital, university and prison chaplaincy, the work of the Country Air Association and the difficulties which may be encountered if parishes discover a National Monument on their property.
A motion to create a second archdeaconary in the Diocese of Dublin was withdrawn at Diocesan Synod 2017. A similar motion was passed at Diocesan Synod 2016 but was found by General Synod not to be in order with the Constitution because of the proposed boundary of the archdeaconary.
VISITORS FROM THE CHURCH OF DENMARK
Visitors to this year’s Synod included the Deans of Roskilde and Copenhagen. Dean Ann–Sophie Olander of Roskilde and Dean Anders Gadegaard of Copenhagen were present to celebrate Denmark’s ancient links with Glendalough and with the dioceses.
Dean Olander spoke of the importance of being welcoming and said that their mission was to be the ‘hospitable church’. Mission statements could often turn into empty words, she said and explained that at a meeting aimed at turning their mission statement into actions two things came up. The first was the importance of receiving; opening the doors and saying welcome to all. The other was to go out and meet people where they are and take the risk. She said that hospitality was about reaching out and chancing your arm. In the year of Reformation 500 she said that Martin Luther had turned the church on its head and questioned it and maybe that was what had to be done if churches want to be hospitable.
Dean Gadegaard highlighted a few issues that Denmark is struggling with in the public sphere. He said that it was obligatory to marry people outside churches as it gave the opportunity to preach to all and it is what the young people want. He added that same sex marriage may also take place in church. The law of blasphemy had been removed by parliament and the Dean said he had been against it because he felt conservative believers who could not yet live with humour, satire and irony needed to be protected. He contended that in Denmark a more visible church involvement was needed in public debate. “We have to speak up and do it on the basis of our faith,” he said.
REFUGEE HOUSING PROJECT
Nick Henderson, CEO of the Irish Refugee Council highlighted developments of their pilot housing project which is supported by Dublin & Glendalough. The project helps people move on with their lives once they have attained refugee status in Ireland. One of the huge hurdles to leaving Direct Provision is the difficulty in finding accommodation and Mr Henderson gave the background to the project which has received properties from the Association of Religious Missionaries in Ireland and for which the dioceses has pledged to raise €300,000 over a three year period. He said the IRC and their clients were very grateful for the support they received from the dioceses and so far 40 people have moved into new accommodation while 100 people have been supported with advice.
Archdeacon Ricky Rountree told members of Synod about the Gateway Project which he said was about being confident in who we are and where we have come from, celebrating our tradition and working to make it as good and effective as it can be. “Gateway encourages us to be positively critical of our tradition and do the church we know well… It also challenges us to go beyond that and look for the opportunities beyond, to venture out and try something new,” he said. The Archdeacon encouraged members of Synod to look at their own parish and church communities and see if they are the best they can be, look at what they have tried and tell their stories. “The Church is always on the move. Those who try to stop change don’t preserve the Church, they suck the life out of it. There are those who would like to block up the gateway, even clergy. Gateway is an open door. It allows free movement in and out. Don’t close the door. Explore new ways without losing touch with who we are. Celebrate the past, explore the present and craft the future. Try an experiment and tell the story,” he concluded.
DIOCESAN BOARD OF EDUCATION
A busy and challenging year in the area of education was highlighted by Canon Paul Houston. Proposing the report of the Diocesan Board of Education, he said the key issue had been the proposal of the Department of Education and Skills to alter school admissions policies. He said the proposals would have had a big impact on Church of Ireland schools in terms of admission and ethos. “Our voice seems to have been heard by Government but there is no guarantee so we need to keep a watching brief,” he said.
He highlighted a number of developments in diocesan schools and appealed to schools thinking of building or upgrading to contact the Board of Education for advice on grants. He added that the main source of information on student grants was through the Secondary Education Committee website.
COUNCIL FOR MISSION
The continued development of the link with the Diocese of Jerusalem was highlighted by the Revd Ken Rue who proposed the report of the Diocesan Council for Mission. Fundraising in the Prepare a Place appeal had resulted in solar panels being provided at Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza along with the refurbishment of the on call facilities for doctors. He also recalled the visit of the Archbishop of Jerusalem to Dublin & Glendalough last December. He reminded members of the forthcoming Ecumenical Carol Singing which this year takes place at St Ann’s Church, Dawson Street, on Saturday December 16 and Ecumenical Bible Week 2018 which takes place from Pentecost to Trinity Sunday.
Proposing the report of the Diocesan Committee for Social Action, the Revd Olive Donohoe appealed to parishes to let her know of their social action initiatives. She plans to conduct interviews and videos on various initiatives in the near future. The Revd Neal O’Raw spoke of a conference he attended in England and highlighted the issue of mental health in rural areas.
CHURCH’S MINISTRY OF HEALING
The Revd Bruce Hayes spoke of the development of the Diocesan Committee of the Church’s Ministry of Healing and said that the dioceses needed to be reminded of the wider implications of the healing ministry within its mission. He said the ministry was rooted in Christ and provided a space for those struggling in our world to find peace and wholeness. With the support of Diocesan Councils and individuals within the dioceses the ministry had been able to resource an support prayer ministers in their parishes, offer a new training course, develop a website and hold an annual quiet day.