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Irish Inter–Church Meeting considers church life after pandemic

Irish Inter–Church Meeting considers church life after pandemic
IICM Co–Chair Bishop Brendan Leahy with Joe McKeown and a panel from Youthlink NI discussing the effect of the pandemic on their lives.

The thirty–second meeting of the Irish Inter–Church Meeting (IICM) took place on Thursday November 10 and Friday November 11 in Dromantine Conference Centre, Newry. The theme for the meeting was ‘Creatively reconfiguring our post–pandemic understanding of church’. Representatives from across the island gathered to reflect together on how churches can connect with a changed post–pandemic world. 

Prof. John Fitzgerald (TCD) began by tracing the story from Jan 2020 to Nov 2022, giving an analysis of the impact of the Covid–19 pandemic on society on the island of Ireland. 

Participants then reflected on a changing local church, led by Breige O’Hare (from the First Step Well counselling and support service), who provided opportunities to prayerfully reflect on the impact of these changing and challenging times on those working in ministry at local level. She focussed in particular on the importance of churches creating space for people to deepen robust, honest relationships with Christ and with each other in these anxious times.

While the Covid–19 pandemic has affected us greatly on this island, its impact for our brothers and sisters in the global church has been significantly different – it was often another amongst many crises. Speakers Bob Kikuyu of Christian Aid (Kenya) and Dr Conchita Reyes of Trócaire (Guatemala) shared about the situation in their countries. 

With Orthodox and Migrant–Led churches represented in the Irish Council of Churches membership, a panel discussion between Fr Anish John (Indian Orthodox) and Pastor Dare Adetuberu (Redeemed Christian Church of God), joined by Ruth Garvey–Williams (editor of Vox magazine) highlighted what the distinctive impact of the pandemic has been for them, and at grassroots across the country. 

Finally Joe McKeown, Youthlink’s Research and Curriculum Development Officer, facilitated a panel of young people from YouthLink who shared their perspective on the Covid–19 pandemic, and its effects on their day–to–day and social lives.

The meeting closed with a reflective session exploring what the Spirit is saying to the Churches at this time, led by IICM Co–Chair Bishop Andrew Forster.

The Irish Council of Churches was founded in 1923 and is the formal national body through which Protestant, Orthodox and independent churches formally engage, dialogue and act on a wide variety of issues. It engages in dialogue with the Catholic Church through the Irish Inter–Church Meeting, established in 1973, and the current co–chairs of the meeting are the Catholic Bishop of Limerick, the Most Revd Brendan Leahy, and the Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, the Rt Revd Andrew Forster.


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