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Day 2

Report of the Marriage Council presented to Synod

Even the strongest relationships have been impacted by Covid, the Chairperson of the Marriage Council, the Revd Jonny Campbell–Smyth, told General Synod on Thursday evening (September 30). Proposing the report of the Marriage Council he said that Council members continued to meet online throughout Covid to make progress in supporting couples and the wider Church across the island around aspects of marriage.

“The island as a whole due to Covid has been impacted greatly in the area of relationships. We have all become more used to working at home, seeing family members a lot more than we ever thought. And whilst in many cases this has been positive allowing more time for family unity, it must be recognised that Covid has done its damage on even the strongest of relationships,” Mr Smyth said.

The Council has taken a number of steps to help couples and prepare the Church as the pandemic eases. The Marriage Council website has been relocated to the main Church of Ireland website. It can now be accessed from the Church of Ireland homepage or directly at www.marriage.ireland.anglican.org. The Council is also on Facebook.

The Council were keen to provide couples and clergy with an improved list of marriage counsellors across the island and now have 12 counsellors spanning from Cork to Coleraine and from Galway to Dublin. He encouraged all Synod members to signpost people to these services. In the Republic the council had benefited from significant financial support through the Family Support Agency Tusla. These funds can be used to support couples who wish to avail of counselling and it can be used by parishes wishing to encourage couples in marriage enrichment. He encouraged Synod members to contact him about accessing the funding. He reported that the Marriage Council had hosted an online webinar to educate parishes in using the Alpha marriage resources.

Mr Campbell–Smyth paid tribute to the members of the committee for the work they had done and to outgoing members as well as to Aisling Sheridan, Administrative Secretary for the work she does in support of the Council.

Commenting on the report, the Revd Dr William Olhausen commended the Alpha marriage courses.

Dean Tom Gordon asked if the Governmental funding for counselling was open to gay couples. Bishop Pat Storey confirmed that it is.

The following were elected as members of the Marriage Council: That the following be elected as members of the Marriage Council: Rev Jonathan Campbell–Smyth (Chairperson), Ms Kay Clarke, Mrs Patsy Devoy, Rev Nicola Halford, Rev Ian Linton, Ms Dianne Morris, Rev Emma Rutherford and Rev James Boyce.

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