A new chapter in the Church of Ireland’s mission to reach people with little or no connection to church has begun. Pioneer Ministry was formally launched in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, on 5th February 2023. As part of this special service of Choral Evensong, the Pioneer Ministry’s leadership team was commissioned by the Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin before a full congregation.
Pioneer Ministry will encourage, support and release volunteer and paid pioneers and new ministries to share the good news of Jesus Christ in new places and in different ways. With the endorsement of the House of Bishops and generous funding secured from the Representative Body, the initiative is being led by a National Director, the Revd Rob Jones, assisted by Archdeacon Barry Forde and Ingrid Brennan.
As the service commenced, a representative of each of the Church’s 11 dioceses lit a candle of hope and which will be presented to every diocesan bishop over the coming months.
The service was sung by the Lay Vicars Choral of St Patrick’s and included a special contemporary musical piece, ‘We sing as one’, sung by Sadhbh Dennedy with accompaniment by Taylor Mehl and Caitlín Escobar.
The guest preacher was the Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd Andy John, who opened his sermon by highlighting the need for good foundations. “It seems to be that today offers an opportunity for us to further strengthen the life of God’s Church on these islands,” he remarked.
Concluding, he encouraged all involved to have “a confident humility that knows that as we build together, we do not do so alone … we build with God the Master Builder and with his grace, break new ground for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Speaking afterwards at a reception for the congregation, Bishop David McClay, who chairs the Pioneer Ministry Council, thanked Dean William Morton and his Cathedral colleagues for their warm welcome at the service, and the leaders who had brought the initiative to this point. In particular, he thanked Bishop Patrick Rooke, Bishop Alan Abernethy, Trevor Douglas and Canon Phil Potter who “took the lead in really laying a foundation”. Bishop David concluded with his hope that the people who will benefit the most from Pioneer Ministry “will be those beyond our church buildings who will experience something of the grace and kindness and love and goodness of God.”
The Revd Rob Jones concluded by thanking all those who helped to put the service together and expressed how honoured and excited he was to be moving into the role of Pioneer Ministry National Director. He added: “The next important task is to get the vision out there and especially commence the job of supporting dioceses and communicate how they can get involved. Each context is different so we will be learning from each other in a spirit of unity and collaboration.”
Since the launch much planning work has progressed. Meetings are now taking place around the island as the National Director meets with each diocesan Bishop to discuss and agree next steps on how Pioneer Ministry will practically work best in their contexts. Work is also ongoing in the creation of a training course for paid Irish pioneers, which will be a collaboration between CITI and Church Army. For further updates and all the information about Pioneer Ministry please see their new website – www.pioneerministry.org – or email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for their new monthly newsletter.
Article first published in the Church of Ireland Gazette.