Letter From the Rector
The Church of Ireland General Synod is the elected body of clergy and members which meets yearly to agree church business. In some ways it operates like the Houses of Parliament, creating laws, procedures and policy for the church. It is also the only body that can alter the worship or doctrine (beliefs) of the Church of Ireland.
As a serving elected clergy representative from our diocese, I have mixed emotions about my membership of the Synod. I’m torn between whether it’s a privilege and to be enjoyed, or a pain and something to be endured.
Generally, however, the system works quite well and I have witnessed at first hand much good work that goes on behind the scenes to make our church tick on a daily basis.
This year’s Synod meeting in May covered some business that I would like to share with you.
The first of these relates to the production of new pastoral liturgies for situations of miscarriage, stillbirth and neo-natal death.
Our Prayerbook currently provides services and material for use at the time of bereavement, but nothing specific for miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death.
The 2019 General Synod put that omission right by approving a Funeral Service and a Service of Prayer and Naming for use on any of these occasions.
If we have not experienced ourselves a loss like this, we all probably know someone who has and I am so pleased that the Church of Ireland has recognized the need for particular pastoral care for parents and families of children dying at, near, or before the time of birth.
Often these sad situations are borne privately or within a tight circle of family and friends. These new sensitive liturgies can be used where desired to assist with the grieving process. Please contact me if you wish to talk about it.
The second area of Synod business I’d like to highlight is the Council of Mission’s encouragement to all parishes not to ignore the fifth mark of mission. This says that one of our key goals as a church should be to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
Most of us probably aren’t aware of the 5 Marks of Mission which
form part of the objectives of all Anglican churches. Some are obvious, such as telling people about the good news of Jesus, caring for those in need, and baptising and nurturing new believers, but if we are to be a parish that wants to play a full role in supporting God’s mission, then we can’t ignore our calling to safeguard God’s creation.
The discussion on this mark of mission at the General Synod coincided with my unease with the way we do or don’t do certain things around the parish – for instance, at home we have no problem separating our rubbish so that what can be recycled is recycled. But at church we seem not to continue this simple practice.
And at home many of us are trying to save energy, or cut down on single use plastic, but at church, the same attitude isn’t always evident.
So in the summer, a handful of parishioners got together to guide the parish on how we can be a more eco-friendly church. Two early initiatives were to encourage a walk to church Sunday, to help focus our minds on the damage that our use of fossil fuel is causing to the earth. The group also asked for feedback from all members on any areas where they saw the church being wasteful, or where things could be done in a more eco-friendly way.
Thank you to all who made suggestions. I am always open to ideas where we can do things better, so please do say to me if you spot something.
Also look out for future guidance from the ‘Eco Committee’ and please do respond positively.
As a new season starts for our Parish, I’d like to challenge each and every member, whether you worship regularly on a Sunday, or only worship very occasionally, to commit to coming to church more often in 2019/2020. If you come once a year, surely you can come twice or three times in the next year. If you come once a month, try to come twice a month.
And if you aren’t involved in anything other than the Sunday worship, come to support something else, whether it’s a social night in the Parish Centre or the Bible Study sessions.
Make this the season that you increase your sense of belonging to your church. Every blessing to all of you. Colin