Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Bit of a Rant about the church

This entry is written in order to get my thoughts prepared for a history essay as part of my final year History Course - necessarily it includes some perspectives of the current affairs. The Title is the "Place of the Church of Ireland in the NEW Ireland"

The Church of Ireland stands in a prominent position on this Island - touching some 450 parishes units North, south, east and west. Some 500 stipendiary clergy minister to some 390,000 people. It has a huge stock of estate in all arts and parts of the Island.

Organized as an Episcopal church split into 12 Dioceses with 2 Provinces and a synod to pass legislation. It is fair to say that we are a diverse church, with conceivably all shades of theological and indeed political opinion in our pews. We have evangelical, conservative, charismatic, anglo-catholic, liberal, unionist, nationalist, loyalist and no-doubt republican.

We stand as a church in an exciting postition due to our history recent and beyond which has indeed had its problems but with hindsight we need to be ready to face challenges of the present and future in faith and indeed hope as we minister to a new, modern, 21st Century Ireland with all its problems and diversity. Within this essay my aim is to discuss some of the current trends we find in this so-called “new” Ireland and look at how the church over the last Century has developed.

Ireland (North and South) is completely different to what it was even 20 years ago. The North has given up its troubles, the South its Punt, The Island as a whole is now more commercial, less concerned with religion and more about consumerism. Society today, as economist David McWilliams comments is bigger, more expensive and partying like mad. Throughout the island we are more aware of the world with immigrants wanting to come to Ireland for work. We are taking more workers on than any other nation in Europe. The population is changing its priorities and the church of the new Ireland needs to respond to that.

As a Church we have set up committees such as Hard Gospel, Board of Social Responsibilities, we are welcoming priests from around the Anglican Communion to minister to minority groups within our population. Having brought these positive things to the table there is also a lot more that still needs to be done. As we look back over the century there has been a complete change within the Island which we must remember there are still those within our number who have seen this whole change:

• People who remember their parents speaking about the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland.
• Those who were affected by the two world wars
• Those who saw the partition of the island of Ireland
• Those who were affected by the troubles in Northern Ireland
• Those who have raw emotions of hatred towards the “other side” within the conflict

We also must remember that as a church 150 years ago we were the church to whom tithes taxes were payable to – hated by both Catholics and Presbyterians alike.

The Church here in Ireland is showing signs of becoming stronger in its prophetic voice, however as the world becomes more commercialized and secular we are in danger of losing that distinctive Christian voice and thus becoming one among many rather than one.

We do as a church have something to say to society in regards to – Morals, environment, politics, values, education, ethical debate, poverty, community relations, prevailing culture, consumerism ... We do have a role in this society and if we are to fulfill that call we must speak out with clarity and ask the difficult questions of our politicians, leaders, society and of course ourselves. If we are not the salt and light in the world what good is there being here in the first place.

In the 19th Century the church of Ireland was at the centre of Government, its Bishops sat in the House Of Lords, many of its members were in parliament, this of course was good in terms of being heard and being there in the debates and the decisions that were made. However this privileged position is no longer there, in many ways this is advantageous to the church as we do not have to be directed by the government, we do not have to do what they say. However, it also means that our influence upon policy and law making has diminished but as a body representing our members we do have distinctive voices which need to be heard on the issues of the day.

From our 450 pulpits we have the privilege of being able to teach the Christian message and gospel, to many, many people. We have within our congregations a huge diversity of people working in all corners of the economy. As a church we have huge influence – yes we are no longer the established church but we have a network of individuals most of whom are baptized and have links which span the length and breadth of this nation. This must be one of the most exciting times to be going into church leadership.

There are huge problems – indeed there are:
- Debt is rampant
- Alcoholism and marriage break-up are widespread
- Church going is at an all time low
- Drug abuse is so high
- Criminality is round the corner

But there are glimmers of hope, where the church is working with the local communities, where the church and government bodies are working together, where people can see Christians really caring for their needs, churches are growing, where churches are growing they are investing their resources in providing what the communites need. In return where needs are met – the gospel is being preached and lives are being completely turned around.

It is sad indeed to see churches being closed, converted or even demolished.

In an Island which has seen so much conflict which to the untrained eye was all about religion and protestants fighting Catholics, we have so much of what could be termed as “religion” do need to get back to the basics and ask what the church is actually here for.

The place of the Church of Ireland in the new Ireland is and needs to be is right in the middle of it. Involved at all levels of society. We need to be reaching out to those at all strata’s of society.

To the poor and the marginalized we need to be saying we are here with you – we will assist you in your dealings to get you a fair package of help when you need it.

To those who are having problems with addictions we need to be saying we will help you to overcome

To those who have arrived as immigrants we need to be saying – welcome and offering a place to belong

To those who are struggling to make ends meet financially we need to say we will give you advice

To all who are OK we need to say – the church needs you as it does everyone

We as a church need to be continually reaching out with the good news of Christ to all in this new Ireland, seeking to move beyond our comfort zones into what can only be described as our mission field. In the past when churches spoke about missionaries the widely held view was that of empire and bringing Christianity to Africa with pith hats and Bibles in hand. However on our doorsteps across the Island today we have people who have either a very negative view of the church or those who have no idea what the gospel is all about.

It is in these areas the church needs to be stepping out in faith and proclaiming the good news and expecting things to change for the better.

Are these things the churches responsibility – well I would argue yes! IF we are to be missional and intentional about our proclamation of the gospel – yes we are to preach the word through the power of the spirit. It is the empowerment of the community of faith to ensure that as many as possible are brought into hear that word, and if possible we should bring the gospel out to the people wherever they are.

The church, I have heard it described as being simply one hungry beggar, telling another hungry beggar where to find food. That is all the church can and should be doing! That is where we should be.

This has turned into a bit of a Rant – it will be refined into a much more reasoned argument as part of an essay – but hey – it makes for a bit of a Blog anyway!!

Through the curacy round ... with My Blog! :-)

Now that final year has arrived and the month of October is nearing a close it must be nearly time for the curacy list to be published

For the uninitiated - the process in the Church of Ireland to find us ordinands places of employment at the end of trainning is quite a job it involves parishes, bishops, interviews, CV's, College, meetings, coffee, discussions late into the night along the corridors.

Hopefully on this blog you may find a few insights into the process as well as prayer pointers etc on the whole experience from an insider ... Of course no names etc will appear simply my own take on the process.

Until then please do pray for us, for guidance, patience, unity with our year, discernment.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Conclusion of 10 Commandments series - St Bart's, Stranmillis

This sermon was preached at the 10:30 Service on Sunday 26th October as part of my Pastoral Placement in St.. Bartholomew's Stranmillis Belfast. It Concluded a sermon Series on the 10 commandments.

1 Kings 21; Ephesians 4;

Heavenly Father,

I pray that you would take my lips and speak through them, take our minds and think through them and take our hearts and set them on fire with love for you – In jesus name we pray - Amen

I wonder if I asked anyone in church this morning to recite the 10 commandments – would you be able to do it?

Maybe you learnt them in school, maybe before your confirmation. Could I invite you to turn with me in your prayer books to page 767 and see that they are written in the context of the catechism. The teaching of the church.

Clearly there is some importance we give to these laws – In this sermon I would like to consentrate on three areas

Firstly old testament

Then Paul’s understanding of the laws

And then what does it say to us here in Belfast many thousands of years later.

In our first reading this morning we read of one of the so-called evil kings

If you are ever looking for political intrigue and scandal – Take a study through the book of first kings!

So Let me introduce you to King Ahab:

* Son of the evil King Omri
* Married the infamous Jezebel and bought into her cultic practices worship of Baal and Asherah.
* Let his people through 2 wars assisted by YHWH

When you read the story of Ahab you see that God sent people to try to warn him that he was on the wrong track but he just doesn’t seem to listen. One of the biggest characters was Yahweh’s man Elijah through whom God showed his power – continually giving Ahab the chance to change. And eventually he did repent.

In marriage, he married someone who was a foreigner and who brought their religious practices with them – even though it was forbidden by the Lord. Ahab then introduced the idol Baal and built places for the worship of Asherah. This was the Beginnings of his problems.

Elijah told him that there was to be no other God’s but the Lord and that he needed to repent – He didn’t – Elijah prayed for no rain and no rain came - exile

Then Elijah again confronted Ahab – contest on Mount Carmel – Prophets of Baal v’s Elijah. YHWH triumphed BUT Jezebel ordered Elijah Killed!

Then there was the Battles against Benhadad – A prophet calls Ahab to lead the attack if they are to be successful – he did and they were

The prophet hold Ahab that there would be another battle – there was and again that was successful – The lord had given them the victory – one problem was that he didn’t finish off the job – and for that Ahab would have to suffer. So it is with this background that we meet and can understand some of what is going on when it comes to Naboths vineyard

Ahab has had tremendous success he has, through the power of God, saved his country from being taken over by the Syrian army. He has seen God cause famine, but when he has listened to prophets the Lord acted powerfully.

Now about 20 miles north of his capital – he had his eyes on a vineyard – it must have been a very good vineyard to Ahab to have wanted it. He offered to pay high price for it – but Naboth the owner was having none of it! – it was his inheritance and – the king could not demand that!

What happens next contravenes a number of our covenant laws

Firstly there is out right coveting of literally his neighbours house – he does this by what we would say – going into a great big SULK.

Then we see his wife getting involved and writing a death warrant for poor naboth and sealing it – Bearing false witness and then ultimately murdering.

So on top of all the things which went before – this king, who is meant to be ruler of God’s people has literally contravened the laws he was meant to be upholding!

That said – we see that his actions are not without consequence. He does undergo, a period of penitence, he realizes the stupidity of his actions and repents.

As we flick over to we see Paul writing to a people who are trying to make sense of a culture – not to dissimilar to our own in terms of being a polytheistic society where personal desire and ambition are ruling the minds.

Take a look at Pauls Description of the prevailing culture

v19 Having lost all sensitivity they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity with a continual lust for more.

When we look at magazines, shops, credit cards, gossip mags is this the prevailing culture. When we look at the news headlines – shootings, affairs, hate crime, under currents of distrust … do the ten commandments have any relevance to us today … surely they do … they must!

They under pin our legal system.

But what are we as Christians to do? … When I was putting the conclusion to this sermon in my study room in Dublin – it was Thursday when there was heavy wind and rain and I imagined a boat on the sea – being tossed about on the waves. Without a compass, without having a fixed point of reference it is extremely easy to loose one way, ones route through life.

Paul in this passage is reminding the Christians that they are different – they are to stand up to the culture – they are to put on the new self – a self which is not ruled by the prevailing culture, not caught up in selfish ambition nor any of the other characteristics of the world – he gives a couple of examples which are relevant to our studies into the 10 commandments

Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour – why? For we are all members of the same body

He who has been stealing must steal no longer

He goes further … Get rid of all bitterness rage and anger, brawling and slander along with every form of malice and then the new self

Be kind and compassionate to one another; forgiving each other as Christ forgive you.

That was Paul writing in the 1st Century

How about 20 Centuries later?

I am a natural rebel – if someone lays down the rules I look for away around them: in Banbridge High – we had a double A4 page of School Rules – To this day I know the first 20 of them because I had to write them out so many times – for forgetting homeworks etc.

Some were really silly – Schoolbags must be carried on the right way from the wall, some were strange and long – respect must be shown to teachers, office staff, principal, caretakers, cleaners, secretaries

A basic list of do’s and don’t

When we look at the 10 commandments it can seem like school rules, a list of dos and don’ts however I do believe that there is something beyond them, something more of a relationship.

Please turn in your prayer books to page 222

On this page we see the 10 commandments which are the basic do’s and don’ts but with the relationship through Christ who is the fulfilment of the law added – As Christians we keep the 10 Commandments not out of Duty but out of love and our personal commitment to Christ who draws us all into that relationship

As we reflect upon Ahab who directly contravened the commandments and Paul who urged the Christians in Ephesus to put on their new selves so we turn to ourselves – what changes do we need to make to be living within the spirit of the law.

As we conclude I have asked Ron to read the commandments and I will read the New Testament commentary. I would invite you to take a few moments to about your own response to them and what you need to change, or do.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sepatrick Parish Magazine article

A line from Dublin

Well, time is certainly marching on, and there is so much to do here at the Church of Ireland Theological College. Now that I am in final year and writing for the November edition of the magazine means also that the list of curacies for 2009 will soon be arriving on my desk. It is a scary but also exciting time. Literally “God Knows” where I and all the other ordinands will end up – and thankfully he does have a place for us all.

At the moment I am on Friday and Sunday placement in St. Bartholomew’s in Stranmillis, preaching, leading services and visiting individuals.

I would invite you to pray for all of us ordinands during November – January as well as the Rectors and Bishops involved in the process. Praying that all would seek the guidance and discernment of God in all decisions that have to be made.

I look forward to keeping you informed of progress in future editions of the magazine.

As ever .. news and prayer pointers can be found on my blog … www.robertferris.blogspot.com or youth.cmsireland.org

In Christ

Robert Ferris

John 10:10 – Jesus said “A thief comes to kill and destroy – but I have come so that they may have life in all its fullness”

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mission away

Below is the text of a talk given to the Retired Dublin and Glendalough Clergy group on the Topic of my mission experience 14th Oct 2008 - This was prepared but certainly not given word for word!

Before we begin let’s Pray

Heavenly father, I pray that as we look at the needs of your people around the world and take a glimpse into the Anglican Church is Zambia that you would speak and minister through me – In Jesus' Name Amen

Good afternoon and welcome to the College / Institute! – Dr Maurice Elliott approached me at the end of the summer and asked me would I speak today to you – I immediately said yes, since then I have wondered what I have got myself into.

I have entitled this talk – “Thoughts from a random final year ordinand” I did this because anyone of the ordinands from our year group could have spoken to you today. As you are aware at the end of Matthew’s Gospel Jesus commissioned his disciples to go into all of the world and preach the gospel … well this summer … we as a year group took that some what literally.

2 went to Canada

1 to California

1 to Paraguay

1 to Brazil

1 to Sixmilecross

1 to Omagh

2 to Dublin

1 to New Zealand

And myself to Zambia

All on official parish placements.

As I have sat down to try and put my experiences down in a some what systematic manner, to allow me to chat about them I have also become aware that they are, like any part of parish ministry quite random – Random because they do not fit into nice and tidy boxes. One particular encounter with an individual does not fit tidily into a pastoral issue or a simple meeting on a street.

And also random because they are my thoughts which are random anyway!

My Background

I am a native of Banbridge Seapatrick Parish – Through Sunday school, confirmation, youth group. In the early days of Sunday School I became extremely interested in Mission – through the Lenten projects – the idea of people away off in far flung parts of the world working for God really did appeal to me. I suppose subconsciously It was making me think – well there must be something in this Christianity thing if people were prepared to leave everything and up sticks to serve God overseas.

It was through our diocese that I was asked to go on my first mission trip – CMSI call them META – Mission Experience Teams Abroad – we headed out to Uganda – to Kiwoko hospital. It was there that I was first exposed to extreme poverty – our first few days were spent in an old church building with what can only be described as a extreme History – the horrors of the Idi Amin era

The slums around kampala – hope in complete hopelessness – We went out with locals to spread the gospel

Then north to Luweero – in the infamous Luweero triangle – the killing fields. Amazing life changing are what I would say about that trip.

It wasn’t doing anything deep and profound – what we were asked to do was to draw alongside the local mission team and help the in their schools ministry – going around secondary and primary schools with the message of the gospel.

We also were able to experience Kiwoko hospital – set up by a doctor from Ireland who went out to saw a need and felt the call to work out there full time.

A couple of years later I came back as a leader on a similar trip – knowing somehow that what I had experienced and seen

Again went out and met more of the locals who were still there 2 years later developing their schools ministry and still doing a lot of the stuff we had done earlier.

One of the crucial things I have felt throughout all of this is the idea of partnership to be extremely important. As you know – this is a profoundly biblical concept – throughout the Pauline corpus we read that he is thankful for the partnership in the gospel.

It was this idea of partners and mission partners which really attracted me to CMSI in the first place – the fact that they have people on the ground in the places which they work, people who are – for want of a better word – Inculturated into the community – working with the locals throughout their time in the field.

Last year I went out again as a leader to Zambia – with a group from all over the church of Ireland – people from cork, down and dromore, connor, Armagh Londonderry to a different part of Africa – to do different things on the back of one of the Sunday school projects and once again I was faced with new people but the same feeling that the idea of partnership was crucial in delivering the gospel message.

In Uganda the mission partners were the Quill Family – Andrew was an architect and Joanne a nurse – using their skills and passions they set up CHE programme – Community Health Empowerment which was basically Healthcare with a special emphasis upon discipleship – Spiritual and Physical lessons coming together.

In Zambia the mission partners were the Scott Family – Keith is an ordained Priest within the Church of Ireland who is lecturing at the Zambia Anglican Seminary. He also has a parish ministry in the mining township of Chambishi in the North of Zambia

By way of Introduction – Partnership is Key to all that follows. Both at a local and international level.


I am quite aware that I am speaking to people with many, many years of experience in ministry under your belt – I wonder if I could draw on that experience for a moment and ask– What do you think the church should be focusing on ?


This year I headed out to Keith and Lynn for an extended period of 2 months which were spent at the theological college in Zambia.

Student / Teacher / Parish Placement / Computer Programmer / Encouragement /

As this was over my summer holidays it was great to be able to do a little more study. Keith being a lecturer allowed me to sit in on his classes

* Justice, Peace and the Integrity of creation – Looking a development issues into the context of theological thought
* Ethics – When I landed in on this class it was on the whole area of sexual ethics and again looking at the homosexuality debate which of course was something which, this summer was at the forefront of the minds of the Anglican church
o This in itself was good to have a bit of time to think about such questions whilst outside my normal circumstances
o Sitting in a Global south country and getting information through the internet from many sources
* Homeltics – It was great to get teaching about drawing on cultural issues in the process of crafting sermons in Africa.

As a teacher – Before coming down to CITC I trained as a Computer Scientist and then as a secondary school teacher. In Zambia I was asked to do some training for the first year students as part of their “Study Skills” this involved basic work with Microsoft Word and research techniques on the internet.

At the moment the college in Zambia is about to bring in a Degree Programme which is underwritten by Canterbury University so the computer skills will have to be of a similar standard to those of our own students here in the UK or Ireland. It was a complete challenge to talk to a class who had little or no background what so ever with computer skills.

On the computer side of things – the college had invested heavily in various pieces of hardware and it was good to be able to set up various systems to help in the management of the resources – for example – printer and file sharing systems as well as a library system to help control books within their college library.

Within this side of my work I do feel I gained a lot more knowledge by doing these things than I gave and it was great by the end of the 2 months to see how much the class had actually taken on board and learnt from the whole. Being able to do reasonable complex things – some even were able to Word process their essay from scratch – so that was a feat in itself!

The parish placement side of the trip was truly humbling and generally amazing – actually getting out and meeting people, people who are living in the most basic conditions – people who are living on the less than a dollar a day – 50p / 65 Cent Which is amazing when one considers that the price of fuel in Zambia was verging on the same price as it is in Ireland.

I did come across some of those who are totally at the bottom of society – people who saw absolutely no future – people whose only escape from poverty was drinking – day and night - When one walked around the unofficial compound in Chambishi the number of Bars selling cheap beer and their equaliviant to potchine was completely heart breaking. It was in this place that I came across the first person I had met, who was dying of HIV/Aids who had absolutely no hope of survival – she was in the last throes of life. And yes I have set at bedsides of those who are dying, and yes I know the facts and figures of aids but it is completely heart breaking to know the problems in these communities.

I do get really passionate about this – what is the church doing in these circumstances – what responsibilities does the church in Zambia and the church in Ireland have to support our brothers and sisters in the world wide church. Huge Global issues.

The Parish placement saw me in various parishes all around the town of Kitwe and beyond – doing the things that an ordinand would be doing here in Ireland

Leading services, reading, preaching, visiting houses, praying with people and going to a Bible study.

This was an exhilarating amount of diversity. One of the bible studies I participated in was looking at trauma counselling – It was equipping the locals in how to talk to people who had had the most horrific stories – It was an African based DVD which looked at some of the people who had lived through genocide and other tragedies and how one should deal with it. One of the questions asked participant if they had had any experices of such.

Here I was sitting in Zambia – one of the most peaceful countries in Africa – but in that small group of people they shared some of the deepest memories of their times in various countries, recalling terror and violence. One particular person had lived through the apartheid regime in south Africa.

My immediate thing to this question of experiencing trauma was no but as the stories came out – My thinking changed – I hadn’t lived through the Idi Amin regime or apartheid but I had lived through Northern Ireland – through bombing, shootings, sectarianism at its worse and we are still sorting these things out. There is still such a lot of trauma from all around – on both sides. It was very strange to be having this conversation in Zambia.

On a lighter note, as a staunch evangelical, brought up in the United Diocese of Down and Dromore – the liturgical side of Zambia on my first trip caused me a bit of concern – being on the extreme side of the anglo-catholic tradition. But it was a strange sort of a mix the outward trappings were of white cassock albs, bells and plenty of smells however with an evangelical zeal to the preaching which as passionate and contained the range of views that we have here in ireland.

However I did make sure that there was no photographic evidence to incriminate me as a cassock alb wearing ordinand!

Turning to the challenge of the placement – Each time I have been to Africa I have been struck by the sheer polarisation between rich and poor and how they exist in sight of each other.

A mud house with thatched room on the side of the main road which carries billions of pounds worth of machines overhead runs twenty lines of power cable on mammoth pylons to a neighbouring country.

I was sitting in one of Keith’s churches in his parish – a couple of books – in a classroom which had a blackboard and a couple of hand made posters. During the service I looked outside – a couple of kids were collecting water from a well, on the road beyond a railway line barely used was the main highway – huge caterpillar machines where being driven up for the mining industry.

Which leads me on to the mines – this is the main industry in Zambia – thousands of people are employed in getting the copper out of the ground either in closed or open pit mines – The mine owners are getting richer and richer pumping money into the business of getting copper out quicker and quicker. The problem is that the profits are not going into the economy they are Chinese and Indian so the copper is being exported and then the profits too are being exported overseas. One of the huge questions which worries me is what happens as a consequence of this action – what will be left after all the copper is extracted? When the raw material dries up?

It is a crazy situation when you find literally new mountains of Slag built up over time within the areas of Zambia.

Children, The average lifespan, I presume due to Aids and other diseases is somewhere ludicrously short – 42/43 I think. So you have masses of young orphans who have to be taken in and looked after – this is causing a huge burden on the people – I met one Vicar General (between an archdeacon and a bishop) who invited me round for dinner – on my birthday – he introduced me to his own many children for whom he was responsible who were living in a 4 bedroom house.

All because their parents had died and he was the adult that was to take care of them.

On my first visit to Africa we heard horrific stories about the problems of AID’s where people thought the way to get rid of the virus was to sleep with a virgin – so girls were being infected by men.

Huge problems – few answers.

The church in Zambia is not immune to problems affecting the world wide church – Ask anyone here in Ireland what the problems affecting the church in Ireland and you will invariably end up with

Growing Consumerism

Attracting Young people

Shift Patterns of work

Attracting Clergy / people power

The church in Zambia has exactly the same problems but does not have the same resources as we have to throw at the problems

There is a need for increased people to come forward for ministry but then there is the problem of resources. There is also a need to go to the very basics. In outlying areas which have problems with water and basic communication how does one even try to come to terms with this

So with all of this is there hope …

… There has to be hope … we are Christians after all …

The church I told you about sitting in and looking out – these are the poorest of the poor. But they are a people with vision, a people who do not want to be in a school building – they want a church building they can call their own. So that group of people at the minute there are 10 or so of them now are tying to literally BUILD THEIR CHURCH from the ground up.

1 ant hill + 10 people and a heap of grass they have started each Wednesday to make block – the blocks are made from an ant Hill – It is the whole idea of empowerment – the natural resources are there – the knowelege is there within the community all it takes is a little bit of leadership in terms of the church and encouragement and they will succeed.

In Keith’s JPIC class a true story was told of an organisation coming in an setting up a community school, they funded the teachers and the building – this was all going great until the organisation looked at it budgets and priorities – the priorities changed and the funding was withdrawn the school lasted about three months – the teachers stayed on as volunteers but the problem was that the children no longer were happy – they stayed at home.

There was a few issues with this idea of development: It was a community school but the community had no ownership of the project. It was a top down approach – you need a school – we will give you a school.

One wonders if an empowerment model might have worked. One where the local people met together and said – we need a school and how do we get one?

They may have put into place something for the parents (many of whom were illiterate)

There needs to be an income generation source – maybe a community garden where vegetables could be grown both for food for the Childrens’ dinner and to sell to buy resources for the school and to pay the salaries of the teachers

The parents could be educated along with the children.

Thinking outside of the box may have allowed that community to lift themselves out of the poverty trap.

The idea of empowerment may have been an important consideration. This case, for me is another way of thinking about what the role of community leadership is all about in Africa – it is not all about asking for handouts but teaching how to do things for themselves. The training of church leaders in these things as community leaders is so appropriate and so essential.

One of the things which I am concentrating on this year as part of my dissertation is mission and how the church of Ireland responds to mission both at home and abroad. Using my experiences overseas as well as mission teams at home and asking fundalmental questions as to our understanding of what we are doing as a church when it comes to engaging with God’s mission in the world.

How what we do on a Sunday morning is helping to fulfil the Missio Dei – the mission of God in the world around.

Looking at concluding – this year I am hoping to do a piece of research enlisting the help up CMSI, Church Army, USPG and various other people including clergy and the synod’s council for mission looking at precisely what I got you all to do – what are our priorities as a church and also asking difficult questions as to the role of the church of Ireland in world mission – looking at my experiences in the light of mission questions.

Are we simply sending young people off overseas for a holiday or is there something more going on – what is partnership anyway? Those are the sort of question I want to be asking. .

Any questions??

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Reflections on the first few weeks of College

Well, final year is here with avengence!

Week 1 was a week on marriage and the care of marriage. It really is a strange thing to be thinking about taking care of marriages as a single person and preparing couples for marriage. I look forward in the next couple of months to read up on some of the courses both for marriage prep and marriage enrichment. We also had time during this week to talk about strategies which we could put in place to ensure marriages are sustained in the long term.

Week 2 was all focused on youth ministry. Once again this was a very practical and insightful look at the role of youthwork within the church of ireland. I know I was encouraged by knoweledge that CIYD and the dioceses had resources which we all could tap into.

And then... we started our main timetable on Monday

This year Is going to be a hectic time combing - lectures, essays, ser mons, curacy rounds, Seminars, Chapel, Pastoral visits, Leading Services, preaching, Travelling, blogging, praying, chatting, powerpointing ... . Having said that it is my hope and prayer that through it all God would be glorified and all of us would grow closer to him. Strengthened in the faith and ready to serve in the church.

Ease of Blog & an update Blog - Week 1 of Final Year

Well, well ... there should now not be any excuse for not blogging as I have found a google gadget which allows me to post directly from my google home page.

Term has started back in earnest... I have started in St. Bartholomew's (St. Barts) in Stranmillis under the guidance of Rev. Ron and Rev. Janice Elsdon on my final year placement.

Classes have started back and are as busy as ever
Ethics, NT, OT, History, spirituality, Ecclesiology, Exegesis are on this semester's Timetable.

This week was/is extremely busy
Mon apart from 5 hrs of class was house meeting and Late Praise which I was sorting out

This evening was College Fellowship - It was nice to be back being not responsible for it! - Pete and Simon have a really good programme of speakers this year again.

Tomorrow is comminity meal as well as preping a talk for next week - my first presentation of Zambia .

Thursday is up home and Friday is back down to dublin.