Pandemic challenges us to listen, learn, adapt – Archdeacon proposes Report of Diocesan Councils
The challenge of Covid–19 requires us to listen, learn and adapt, enabling us not only to deal with the problems at hand but also to plan for the future with meaningful and attainable goals, the Archdeacon of Glendalough told members of Dublin & Glendalough Diocesan Synods. The annual gathering of Synod members took place online with members joining from their own homes throughout the dioceses.
Proposing the report of Diocesan Councils, Archdeacon Neal O’Raw said that the next six to nine months could be extremely challenging as we face the uncertainty wrought by Covid–19. However, he said it would be disingenuous and unjust to simply list the trials and tribulations we face in the future while many are working to keep the dioceses alive and promote the kingdom of God on earth.
He said the report of Diocesan Councils was full of ways in which people had been creative in communicating in a new and different manner. “This new expression could be seen in how we do church, in how we reach out to children and young adults, to ourselves and to the more mature members of our community,” the Archdeacon commented.
He highlighted some of the ways people in the dioceses had already adapted to the current situation with many parishes holding Sunday school by Zoom and the Diocesan Children’s Adviser, the Revd Cathy Hallissey enthralling viewers with the adventures of her Orangutan side kick Copperpot.
Dublin & Glendalough Youth Council was continuing to reach out to young people through various projects, he reported, noting that the development of an area coordinator in the East Glendalough/Wicklow area was working well. The Archdeacon commended the work of the teams in the four main universities. He said that the pandemic had taken from the social lives and relationships of students but the third level chaplains were playing a crucial role in pastoral care and practical support of both students and staff.
Three initiatives came in for special mention. Covid–19 has meant that hospital chaplains have no access to patients except in exceptional circumstances. In response they have developed a system whereby new admissions receive a card with a message from the chaplain and a number for the patient or their family to contact to discuss any issues.
The Archdeacon also talked about the Gateway Project 2020 which promotes pioneer ministry in Dublin & Glendalough. It is currently focusing on three projects: a Disestablishment 150 retreat, ACT3 the Anglican Chaplaincy Team, and a new learning community for pioneer ministry to help build the church in new ways.
Finally, he focused on Safeguarding and paid tribute to Robert Dunne, the Church of Ireland’s Safeguarding Officer (RI) and Diocesan Regulator, Olive Good, for their hard work and their new Safeguarding website https://safeguarding.ireland.anglican.org/