Marriage Council continues to offer vital ministry – report presented to General Synod
The pandemic has put enormous pressure on many marriages and relationships, the chairperson of the Church of Ireland Marriage Council, the Revd Jonny Campbell Smith, told members of General Synod today. He said the support that the Church of Ireland can bring to couples considering marriage, those who are married and to clergy and church leaders supporting couples continued to be a vital ministry.
With restrictions preventing members meeting physically, the Marriage Council, like other committees, had to become more creative in how it provided support. In partnership with Alpha Ireland, the council was able to facilitate an online webinar to showcase the resources available to parishes around marriage preparation. Then the Council hosted an online seven week marriage enrichment course for clergy and their spouses. Couples from all parts of the island of Ireland across many dioceses were represented. Mr Smith said this was a tremendous success and subsequently which had seen rectors adopt the Marriage Course in their local context.
To support couples the council now has 12 professional counsellors and counselling agencies, he reported. However, he said there continued to be a low take up of these services. He encouraged clergy and those who supported couples to refer couples to these services. The contacts are listed on the marriage section of the Church of Ireland website – marriage.ireland.anglican.org. He said that in the Republic grants for these services were available through TUSLA but if the funds were not used it would be difficult for the Marriage Council to justify the need.
The council has agreed to produce a short video for diocesan synods to introduce their services. They also plan to offer more short online sessions to resource the wider church in their local context.
The report was seconded by Bishop Pat Storey (Meath and Kildare).