Act 3 – Reaching Out to Over 100,000 students in Dublin
In the wake of the Conference of European University Chaplains which took place in Dublin for the first time last week, we take a look at the work of Act 3 in Dublin. Act 3 – or Anglican Chaplaincy Team at Third Level – connects all the Church of Ireland chaplains working in Third Level institutions in Dublin and looks at how they can serve the city’s huge student population.
Act 3 is a new concept and is headed up by the Revd Rob Jones, Rector of Rathmines with Harold’s Cross. Both he and Scott Evans, Church of Ireland Chaplain at UCD, addressed General Synod in Armagh recently.
This video gives a flavour of Act 3’s goals:
Rob told Synod members that chaplaincy had been on a journey in Dublin since 2015 when he was the only Church of Ireland third level chaplain, working at DIT. The outcome of meeting the need of chaplaincy to students in Dublin has resulted in the establishment of Act 3.
Rob is Rector of Rathmines and Harold’s Cross. Seven years ago a new community was planted in the parish of which he was Vicar at the time and leader of the new community. Many young people came along to the fresh expression. Rob recalls that at the time there was much hurt, loss and pain among young people who were termed the ‘lost generation’. Young people were finding it really difficult to find a community, a place to be known, in university. They prayed and talked about what it would look like to join the chaplaincies together as a team to reach out to students and form a chaplaincy where community could be built for students to find stability in the midst of transience.
Act 3 builds on what has gone before, particularly in Trinity College Dublin. But to further this, they seek to create a new team across the city, present on the campuses but linked to a church in the city. “We want to push forward in innovation in a changing and challenging culture in Dublin where there is huge potential for ministry. The journey has been both challenging and beautiful,” he explaines.
In 2015 he was asked to become the ordained chaplain in the Dublin Institute of Technology. At this stage the other three university chaplaincies were vacant but all these posts have now been filled in Dublin.
Act 3 is a new team in the diocese and all the new chaplains are part of it. The name Act 3 stands for Anglican Chaplaincy Team at Third Level but ties into Acts 3.
Scott Evans, Chaplain in University College Dublin, believes that chaplaincy had been on decline in the minds of many third level institutions so they had been asking how they could develop and innovate ways of connecting people.
In UCD, he is involved in three projects including bringing Paradoxology, a prayer tent he is involved with at Electric Picnic and now in its sixth year, to the campus. Last year Paradoxology ran as part of UCD’s Mind Body Soul festival. They have also developed a podcast called the Graveyard Shift and a lectionary blog called RevoLectionary which reflects young voices’ on the weekly lectionary readings.
Act 3 has also looked at the question of influence and has become part of a wider chaplaincy group on third level exploring the role of chaplaincy. Scott was part of the coordinating team which brought the Conference of European University Chaplains to Dublin where delegates looked at what it means to do chaplaincy that is central to the life of the third level institutions.
“I love young adults – they have so much life and so many questions and as we look at what our church will look like in the future one of the questions seems to me to be what space can we create for young people?” he comments.