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Refugees pose puzzle for Ireland

20 May 2016


Handmade touch: cards from local schoolchildren decorate walls in a welcome centre at an undisclosed location in Belfast, which will provide temporary accommodation for the first group of Syria refugees to resettle in Northern Ireland, in December

Handmade touch: cards from local schoolchildren decorate walls in a welcome centre at an undisclosed location in Belfast, which will provide tem...

THE reception of Syrian refugees in Ireland dominated the debate on the Standing Committee report, focus­ing on the effectiveness of the Bishops’ Appeal in support of refu­gees in the Middle East and Europe, and other emergencies.

The Bishop of Tuam, Killala & Achonry, the Rt Revd Patrick Rooke, who chairs the Bishops’ Appeal, said that, in the past year, the appeal had been drawn into relief issues closer to home, because of flooding and the refugee situa­tion. He said that the task force envisaged that church groups and other community groups would be asked to get involved in welcoming refu­gees in coming months.

The Dean of Ossory, the Very Revd Katharine Poulton (Os­­sory), a member of the refugee working group, said that people were coming from the camps to stay in a hotel in Waterford for about 12 weeks. During Lent, they had sought donations to help them.

The Bishop of Derry & Raphoe, the Rt Revd Ken Good, who chairs the Northern Ireland sub-group, said that the numbers arriving in Northern Ireland were small. When they arrived, their identity was protected, and it had been difficult for the Church to find a way to

Trevor Sargent (Cashel, Ferns & Ossory) said that people often misunderstood the Bishops’ Appeal: it was not pocket money for bishops. He suggested that money-raising efforts needed to be looked at.

The Revd Mark Lennox (Derry & Raphoe) described responding to the Nepalese earthquake by packing a van with sleeping bags and pro­visions, and driving it to a drop-off point in London. The Anglican Church in Nepal had grown by 3000 as a result of the appeals.


Sexuality conversations

A GUIDE to the ongoing conversation across the Church of Ireland on human sexuality is to be circulated to parishes, together with a three-module resource pack. A co-ordinator in each of the 12 dioceses would report back in 2017, the Dean of Belfast, the Very Revd John Mann (Connor), who chairs the Select Com­mittee on Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief, told the Synod.

The issue of sexuality, and the confirmation at the General Synod in 2015 by the House of Bishops that marriage was to be understood in the context of one man and one woman, caused controversy in the Church and beyond, he said.

The committee’s initial effort, he said, went towards producing a guide to the ongoing conversation in the Church of Ireland on the area of same-sex attraction, and the valuing of human experience, creativity, and, above all, relationship, within the theological under­standing of Anglicanism, and particularly in the Church of Ireland.

”It is hoped that in the early part of 2017 the Select Committee will receive feedback from the 12 diocesan co-ordinators . . . so that this body may be presented with a paper next year, reflecting the pattern of thought across our Church.”

The report was received by the Synod.


Self-supporting ministry

THE report of the Commission on Ministry was received by the Synod.

Proposing the report, the Archdeacon of Meath & Kildare, the Ven. Leslie Stevenson, said that non-stipendiary ministry was drying up because of a training scheme which set high barriers of duration and academic demands. Without non–stipendiary clergy, he siad, it seemed that there would be more amalgamations, church closures, and people becoming unchurched as a consequence.

The Archdeacon said that the commission looked to the Church of England’s efforts on ordained local ministry. After the 2014 Synod, a working group had been established with representatives from the commission, the bishops, and the Church of Ireland Theo­logical Institute, which had resulted in the report’s section on self-supporting ministry.

Self–supporting ministry would be in addition to, and another pathway to, ordina­tion, he said. The qualification would be exercised within the diocese in which the person was ordained. The course would be the Graduate Certificate in Ministry through the University of Durham, and would be non–residential. “The Commission believes this is an exciting expression of priesthood,” he said.

A motion commending the proposals in the report was carried by the Synod.

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