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Irish Times Notes

Church of Ireland Notes from ‘The Irish Times’

General Synod in Belfast

The General Synod, which is the parliament of the Church of Ireland, will meet in Assembly Buildings, Belfast, from next Wednesday to Friday. This will be the first in–person meeting of the General Synod since its meeting in Derry in May 2019. It will be the second meeting of the 52nd General Synod. The General Synod first met in 1871 in Dublin following the Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, and in recent years has met in several different cities around the island.

There will be a Service of Holy Communion on the first day in St Anne’s cathedral, Donegall Street, at 10.30am and the General Synod will begin at 12 noon, in Assembly Buildings, followed by the Presidential Address by the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd John McDowell.

This year the legislative load is light with just two bills for consideration.  One is to permit the General Synod, diocesan synods and general vestries to meet electronically. The other is to ensure that those who act as parochial nominators  are part of the parish for which they are elected as nominators.

In addition there are several motions for debate. The Church and Society Commission will call for a recognition that helping people affected by the housing crisis must be considered an essential part of the Church’s mission and ministry, while a private member’s motion will seek consideration of a policy prohibiting discrimination in the Church’s treatment of employees, volunteers and contractors. The Liturgical Advisory Committee will present liturgies on theme of a Season of Creation on the five Sundays from 1st September to 4th October. The Synod will be asked to recognise that the conditions now exist to implement arrangements for the interchangeability of ministry between the Church of Ireland and the Moravian Church,  and the Working Group on Pioneer Ministry will bring forward proposals for pioneer ministry with the aim of reaching more people outside the Church in a way that complements existing ministry within the Church of Ireland.

As always there will be a review of the work of the last year through the medium of reports from the Representative Church Body, Standing Committee, the  Board of Education, the Church of Ireland Youth Department, the Covenant Council, the Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue, the Liturgical Advisory Committee, the Council for Mission, the Commission on Ministry, and the Marriage Council.

The Council for Mission will host a Mission Breakfast from 8.00am on Thursday in the Penthouse Suite of the Europa Hotel, Great Victoria Street. A light breakfast will be provided and attendees will be joined by a guest panel focusing on mission and the environment featuring the Bishops’ Appeal, Eco Congregation Ireland, and several of the Church’s associated mission societies. Admission is free and all donations will go towards the work of Bishops’ Appeal and Eco Congregation Ireland.

While the annual meeting of General Synod is essentially work, it is also an important social event and emphasises a vital part of the mission of the Church – the offer of hospitality. The return of an in–person General Synod provides an new opportunity to be hospitable.

The Archbishop of Armagh will represent the Church of Ireland at the enthronement of the Archbishop of Wales in Bangor Cathedral today (Saturday).  The new Archbishop, the Most Revd Andrew John, was elected in December and served as Bishop of Bangor for the previous 13 years. He succeeds Bishop John Davies who retired in May after four years as the leader of the Church in Wales.


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