Clogher Diocesan Synod 2008
Clogher Diocesan Synod 2008

Bishop Jackson addressing Diocesan Synod

Synod was held on 25th September in Aghavea Parish Hall. It was preceeded by a service of Holy Communion in the church at 4.30pm.

Canon Dennis Robinson, Revd Helene Steed, Revd Kyle Hanlon, Bishop Michael Jackson, Archdeacon Cecil Pringle, Dean Raymond Thompson and after the Service of Holy Communion

The large attendance then moved to the hall.

The main items of the evening were the address "Growth Unity and Service" by the Right Reverend Dr Michael Jackson (see below) and the launch of the report Whatever you say, say nothing

Revd Earl Storey of the Hard Gospel Project, Mr David Gardiner and Bishop Michael Jackson at Clogher Diocesan Synod launching the report "Whatever you say, say nothing"

The usual elections were held and reports given. Canon Riddel said over 300 people had attended sessions on "Confidently Safeguarding Trust"in the past year. A motion to form a Union between the parishes of Errigal Truagh and Tyholland was passed. This had been requested by the parishioners. A fuller report will added shortly.

Mrs Joy Coalter, Mr George White JP and Mrs Doreen Primrose


Address at the Clogher Diocesan Synod held in Aghavea Parish Hall by the Right Reverend Dr Michael Jackson on Thursday 25th September 2008.

… growth, unity, service …



I begin, ladies and gentlemen, in welcoming you all to The Synod of Aghavea 2008.

During the year past, the bishops of the Church of Ireland have sought to serve the church by drawing together ideas for the future in a number of areas. Our hope corporately is that these may act as pointers and indeed stimuli to future engagement on the part of members of the Church of Ireland in key areas of Christian witness in the society of which we are part. They are more than prose; we hope they will become practice.

Some of you may wonder how this came about. Others may wonder why I am telling you about this. Others again may be saying: Sure, why are the bishops bothering us like this, aren’t we grand the way we are? Others of you still may have spotted the bishops’ Vision and Statement among your Synod Papers. Two particular issues encouraged the bishops directly to address this area and they were the following:
- the future training and equipping for ministry of lay and ordained people.
- the review of Committees of the General Synod undertaken by the Honorary Secretaries and the Standing Committee.

All of this may seem removed from us here in Clogher. You may well think that this is the proper work of Mr Harold Stewart, Canon Brian Courtney and the Reverend Bryan Kerr who are the Clogher members of Standing Committee. (In parentheses I say that it is an intense sadness to me that, alone of the twelve dioceses of the Church of Ireland, Clogher has not in recent times had an under-45 lay person to serve on Standing Committee. This is a genuine gap not only in the life of our diocese but in the total life of the Church of Ireland. Synodical life has, as one of its purposes after all, the giving of a voice to the laity. However, with a quota now retained in our triennial elections for under-45 representation to General Synod, I am pleased to say that this situation now has the potential to be resolved positively.)


Synodical life generally is fundamental to the life of the Church of Ireland in a way which is consultative, progressive, proactive and courageous. When, as indeed we experience for ourselves, the synodical principle is used to good effect, it is a tremendous force for cohesion, friendship, solidarity and good sense focused on the future. This is the Church of Ireland at its most dynamic. It is a great pleasure to be here in Aghavea for this year’s Diocesan Synod and all our expectations in this regard are being fulfilled. I thank Canon Robinson, Members of the Select Vestry and all parishioners who have worked so hard to make today such a welcoming experience and resounding success for people from right across the diocese. We are indebted to you and applaud your every effort. But I also have to say this: when, however, the synodical principle is distorted by any wilful pushing of sectional agendas, by the opportunistic defiance of the spirit of openness, and the downright human discourtesy of content, we are, ladies and gentlemen Members of Synod, in a different world. And we want to stay away from that different world.

The careful principle and practice involving the balancing of the numerical strength of the laity, the pastoral conviction of the clergy and the derived authority of the bishop – in three separate houses – was pioneered by George Augustus Selwyn, first bishop of New Zealand in the mid-1800s, and subsequently applied to Ireland in the 1860s. This was in order to implement what we know as Disestablishment, a negative word for a positive way of life: freedom of decision locally in our Province, combined with an affectionate respect for the archbishop of Canterbury, and all set within an international Anglicanism which even at that time had grown and was flourishing far beyond the shores of England, its Empire and subsequent Commonwealth. In all our doings and dealings with one another, the words of the earlier Richard Hooker, from the seventeenth century, remain true and pertinent:
‘ A more beautiful and religious way for us were to admire the wisdom of God, which shineth in the beautiful variety of all things, but most in the manifold and yet harmonious dissimilitude of those ways, whereby his Church upon earth is guided from age to age …’


It is into this synodical system and structure, which has been part of the weave of the Church of Ireland for almost one hundred and forty years now, that the bishops first at the General Synod of this year offered their Statement and Vision. It is my pleasure to present it to my own Diocesan Synod today. The Statement and Vision break down into three parts:
- Worship and Spiritual Growth
- Unity and Dialogue
- Living God’s Kingdom and Serving the World.
The three key words used to express this and summarize it are: Growth, Unity, Service. One of the early reactions at Standing Committee to this was from someone who said: ‘I see nothing in this about winning souls for Christ.’ In fact, nothing could be further from the truth and the expectation of the honest intention of this Manifesto of Mission and Service on the part of the bishops. The wider stated purpose is one of developing growing – that is, actively changing, not static or resisting – communities of faith where the Kingdom of God is discerned, experienced, shared and made known. Maybe I have missed something, but did Jesus Christ not come, was Jesus Christ not designedly sent by the Father to bring in the Kingdom of God, to give to the human body and soul a healing and an enlivening touch of divine reality? Is it not in these communities of faith that the Kingdom of God in a primary way has been made known – and from the beginning – in the lives of individuals through the giving and receiving of preaching, teaching and healing? And are these communities of faith not the places from which and to which souls are won for Christ, world-wide, as we hear in the most extraordinary of life-stories happening everywhere as indeed we speak? What is more, those who serve are to serve as followers of Jesus Christ. With genuine missional intention, they are to go out into the world to serve the same Jesus Christ to the glory of God the Father in the love of the Holy Spirit. All of us are called to fulfil this mission in our local setting, among the people we know and take for granted, in the thick of neighbours and family, friends and foes alike.


For my own part, and I stress that this is a personal view, I see the Vision Statement as an invitation from the bishops to all members of the Church of Ireland to take hold of what they believe with confidence and assurance and to go into their communities with faith in their hands and with hope in their hearts. It is an invitation to engage actively, within and beyond our local parochial communities of faith, with that great statement of Jesus Christ about himself with which we are familiar from the Gospel of John14:6:
I am the way, the truth and the life.
The framework of John’s Gospel within which this statement of the essence of God is set is that of God’s glory, a theme with which we are familiar from the outset of the Gospel where we learn that God’s glory has come to pitch its tent (John 1:14) among us, as indeed we are familiar with the way in which such glory is part of the person and the being of Jesus Christ. Within the mind of God, such glory was always intended to be something which would make its true witness and proclamation through suffering leading to resurrection and something which would have direct impact on human life as others live it. This just is who God is and what God does. We call it variously: redemption, salvation, grace. The concern, the commitment and the confusion of the disciples about all of this are clear from the fact that so many of them – Simon Peter, Thomas, Philip, Judas – ask different questions. But it is in response to a question of Thomas who is asking in a literal, indeed innocent sort of way for directions – something like the way we might today use Sat Nav or Google – about the way, the route to take in following Jesus, that Jesus sublimely replies in a deeply theological way and says:
I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.

The fundamental point made by Jesus is that it is not possible to bypass either (a) this way of suffering or (b) the person of Jesus Christ who is the earthly embodiment in human form of God. And, as with so much in St John, this teaching about Jesus is profoundly Trinitarian: Christ Jesus is the definitive way; the Spirit is the definitive truth; the Father is the definitive life. But the equally significant thing is that the disciples also can access God in God’s fullness through the person of Jesus Christ as their master, their teacher and their friend. And, as with everything good in Holy Scripture, this treasure is not to be buried either in the soul of the individual person nor is it to be guarded jealously by an individual community. It is to be shared and shared again with those beyond the limitations and the confines of our own varied selfishnesses. It is through being Christ-like in this way of giving that we: win souls for Christ in the world as in the church.

I am the way, the truth and the life I myself see primarily as an invitation to us to follow Christ and to be like Christ in being Scriptural in everything we are and do. Throughout this invitation I see weaving their way three things, all of which give this vision of Jesus for the church, which will come after him, focus and direction. And I see it expressed tangibly in the Statement and Vision of the bishops of the Church of Ireland. It happens through faithful discipleship and Christ-like witness. These components are as follows:
- the way in which we model the person of Jesus Christ is through our worship and our spiritual growth.
- the truth which both judges us and sets us free is firmly rooted in the continuity of being between the Son and the Spirit; it calls for a united witness on the part of all Christian people in order to enable us to dialogue with the world and with those of other World Faiths.
- the life which comes from the Father for all creation is given in full abundance through the Son. We are called to live it out in service with that sense of urgency and energy which are hallmarks of God’s kingdom. That life returns, and must be returned by us, through the Spirit, to its source, the Father.

All of this we can find in the three-part vision which the bishops have given to us. The Mission Statement and Vision of the bishops also ties in with our own diocesan review of Committees as part of a wider re-focusing of all of our life on mission. The one quibble I have with the mode of expression of the bishops’ Vision is that it relies on nouns and not verbs. At heart, I am simply a practical person, seeking to make some sense of my believing in God and helping other people to do the same, as best both of us can. For that reason, I should have preferred: Growing, Uniting, Serving instead of Growth, Unity, Service. However, I do accept that the three words which have been used constitute outcomes, not process, and in a ‘talking church,’ a church characterized by wordings rather than doings, outcomes are very important.


Deep in the heart of Anglicanism, that unique system of obedience to God’s call and response to God’s goodness and grace, is worship. The Vision Statement of the bishops expresses the aspiration of every person to praise God. It also expresses the expectation which all too often is not voiced, taken for granted and promptly forgotten: by this I mean that being a Christian is a happy thing and a positive experience. Nurturing growth asks of us who have been given the custodianship of God’s grace and salvation that we share it joyfully with those who do not have it. The more familiar we are with the content of our faith, the more urgent we ought to see the need to build communities of faith who can and do enable individuals to form one body in Christ and rejoice in being thus formed.

Often we are accustomed to assessing growth in terms of numbers. There is no avoiding this, of course, as Disestablishment forces on us the need to pay our way and to make ends meet with prudence and forethought and also to keep in mind the possibility of less plentiful times. There is, nonetheless, also another type of growth, what I might call growth in depth, growth in understanding and growth in generosity and this growth is often lost sight of in a number-crunching world. For us, worship – however simple, however splendid - gives voice to this growing and ever-changing faith. But worship, more often than not, is not something which explains itself. We really do need to get to grips with it in both its modern and ancient forms because, throughout the history of Anglicanism, worship is where we go to find our doctrine. Going to church unprepared will mean both that we can put less into it and get less out of it. It is important that a growing church be a welcoming church and that we keep our eyes firmly on those who are newcomers and on those who are visitors. Again, the Statement of the bishops uses the all-important word: attractive, without in any way intending to be superficial, and challenges us to avoid being so settled or comfortable with ourselves and one another that we do not even see the stranger who is in our midst.


The church of God is called not to live for itself, otherwise it will continue only to be another self-serving human institution, but to live beyond itself and to engage with those who are significantly different – in the confidence of its own unity. You may well agree with me that we have a long road to travel. There are, of course, from earliest days many reasons for disunity and it is from these early days of the first five centuries that we derive the language of division and malfunction among Christians. I mean words such as: heretical, schismatic, heterodoxy over against orthodoxy, and many other technical terms which had largely passed into the mists of history. Words like these are again doing the rounds. They are used rather loosely, rather too readily, in my opinion, and with a degree of superficiality and destructiveness probably not even recognized by those who give them voice but they corrode the morale, the trust and the loyalty of church members.


Let me take you back to the year 1888. One of the interesting aspects of our living Anglicanism is the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. This is a gift of the then young American Church (PECUSA) to the wider Anglican world which at that time was being forced to think about what it was to be an Anglican beyond the geographical boundaries of England. Originally conceived as a way of uniting the American Church after the Civil War, the Quadrilateral comprised the following parts:
(1) The Holy Scriptures - Old and New Testaments – as containing all things necessary to salvation
(2) The Apostles’ Creed as baptismal symbol and the Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith
(3) The Two Sacraments of the Lord – Baptism and the Supper of the Lord
(4) The Historic Episcopate - locally adapted to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of his Church.
The Lambeth Conference which met soon after the issuing of the Quadrilateral made this Quadrilateral the basis for unity on the part of the Anglican Communion with any other church. This, in turn, has made possible in our own time the exciting and life-giving Porvoo Agreement with the Lutheran Churches of the Nordic-Baltic nations.

Any of us committed to or involved in this field of church life realize that unity in Christ is not an ‘add-on’ but is an urgent imperative embedded in being a Christian. At the same time, we sense that dialogue is essential. Both of these words: unity and dialogue may well either alarm or rouse little active interest in members of this Synod – I simply do not know. If this is true, then I think that it is rather worrying. These issues, these realities will not go away whether we want to engage in them or not. The ‘other person’ is always there. But one thing I do know - our experiences are as valid and as relevant as are those of the person in the next diocese. It is a waste of that voice and of that experience if they are not heard. I should be particularly surprised were dialogue really, at the end of the day, so difficult a concept to live out because, properly used, it offers opportunity to understand more of ourselves as others, through hearing and questioning, seek to understand us. It is a mutual process of trustful disclosure and is essential to a mature humanity. It has within it the capacity to free us from the twitchiness which is always on the defensive and on the attack at the same time. If the word: unity makes too many assumptions for our liking, then the word: dialogue does not. It asks of us an honesty about ourselves and an openness to others along with a confidence in ourselves in speaking, in living and in sharing the things which matter to us in the company of others - and then letting them do something similar. That is all it is asking and yet so many people bristle at it and get up on their high horse to attack it. Recently I have distributed to Members of the Diocesan Board of Mission and to all clergy copies of a booklet produced by the Committee for Christian Unity and the bishops on Inter Faith Encounter. This booklet explores a whole series of practical situations in which, daily, Christian people encounter people of Faiths other than Christianity. Such dialogue is also part of mission today.


In its final section, the bishops’ Statement directs us to the prayer which our Lord himself taught us, having first taught it to his twelve specially chosen disciples. So often do we repeat, so instinctively do we say, The Lord’s Prayer that we can all too easily fail to register both what it gives to us and what it asks of us: living tomorrow today and living already within the Kingdom of God. This involves and will continue to involve living beyond ourselves in the exciting work of exploring God’s Kingdom on earth:
(1) We entrust the present and the future to God without knowing fully what it contains when we call on God to let his will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. And we do so in faith in the God of creation and of redemption.
(2) The translation to which we are accustomed suggests to us that we ask God for our daily allowance, our regular allocation, of bread on this day. But an equally valid, and to my mind perhaps even better, translation has us ask for tomorrow’s bread today. This is the positive, forward-looking, sort of Christianity we could all do with re-discovering. And in re-discovering it, we would re-discover the God of generosity and of deliverance.
(3) With stark realism we say with our own lips that we do not in fact expect God to forgive us our sins in any other way than we forgive the sins of those who sin against us. We do so in love for the God of forgiveness and of the second chance. And at the same time, in our human way of living, we commit ourselves to forgiveness of others in expecting forgiveness of us.

All of these three parts of the Lord’s Prayer could be expanded and explored further, but I simply wish to draw to our attention the ways in which discipleship of the one Lord is always before us and within us. Too often discipleship is lost and squandered because we feel we cannot keep up with its demands. But just as important as what we do is how other people respond to us. Never were we expected to do all of this on our own. Hence the emphasis which the bishops give to service of others, recognizing that herein lies our richest reward and deepest satisfaction as we seek to be disciples and to make disciples. We are asked, called and invited to engage with the world in its rich variety of need and opportunity.


Perhaps it is the overwhelming loss of confidence which many individuals have in the worth of their own contribution; perhaps it is the equally overwhelming upsurge in suspicion which many individuals have in the value of institutions; and perhaps it is a combination of both which has forced the church once again to explore mission as something local and, dare I say it, as something which seems less exotic. At home, as much as abroad, we are called to let ourselves be every bit as much a place of mission for others as we may expect others to let us offer mission to them. Mission cannot be imposed. We are called to a mutuality of mission which, in the minds and actions of those involved in today’s Mission Agencies and Partnerships, has already overtaken and replaced ideas of superiority and dependency, the bountiful and the destitute, as sufficient in themselves to explain what mission is - however well disguised - in Christian thinking.

Perhaps, again, it is the ever-increasing suspicion of governments and party politicians as people who look first and foremost to their own re-election and perpetuation in privilege which has forced the church to dig deeper and, in a quest for meaning in itself as another human institution in danger of being no more than just another human institution, to ask the question: Who, then, is my neighbour? In this way the church has begun again to waken up to its current disconnectedness from society. It is the primary calling of the church to be sent by God and to be found among other people. And God alone knows the limits and definitions of that word: other. This is the primary thrust of the bishops’ Statement and its invitation to us all to do three things:
to grow, to unite, to serve.


A number of things has happened in the last number of months to put in place what might be called the building blocks of a missional approach to diocesan life. These build on work and witness previously offered in the diocese and by people who have had what is referred to as a passion for mission. One is the desire to review and to revise the Diocesan Committees with mission firmly in view and in focus. Across the diocese, continuing members and fresh faces have volunteered to serve on the Committees of the diocese. Only last evening we had the second in a series of meetings equipping members of those Committees to think and work in a missional direction. My thanks go to Mr Ian Smith and Mr James Price of CMS Ireland for what they have done for and with us. But none of this should be a surprize to anyone here. MACARTAN 1500 and MACARTAN 1500+ have already prepared the ground across the diocese for a more confident sense of engagement with everyone on the part of members of our diocese. So also have the many visits to our diocese by bishops and others from across the width and the breadth of the Anglican Communion. The Clergy Conference 2008 was led by the Reverend John Kafwanka from Zambia. John had been seconded for a period to the Anglican Communion Office, London to prepare for the Communion a Lambeth Conference focused on Anglican identity and the work of bishops in God’s mission. My own work over almost five years with NIFCON (The Anglican Communion’s Network for Inter Faith Concerns) also provides a perspective on the real presence of people of World Faiths other than Christianity in Ireland and across the Anglican Communion.


One of the important things I wish to encourage us all to think clearly about from a Christian and a Church of Ireland perspective - generously, critically and towards the future - is that mission is local as well as being international. It is in such a context as this that I welcome the Report: Whatever you say, say nothing … which has been researched and compiled by Mr David Gardiner. David was commissioned to undertake the research by The Hard Gospel Committee of the Church of Ireland. It is specific to Clogher Diocese and we are the first diocese in Ireland to break fresh ground in the quest for understanding and mutual respect in what I might call: the invisible questions. I have every confidence that, although particular to our own beloved diocese, it will resonate by its honesty of insight into every corner of the Church of Ireland and beyond. If, ladies and gentlemen Members of Synod, I may presume to offer a personal observation, I feel that in many ways it shows how The Hard Gospel Project has matured over the years. I sense too that, as a diocese, we have a unique offering to make to the understanding of the: Whys? and the: What nexts? of the unprecedented time of peace which Northern Ireland is now in a position to share with the whole of Ireland. It is every bit as vital as anything politicians may yet - and we are still waiting – get round to offering us as a society for the future. It is, therefore, at this Diocesan Synod 2008 that I speak of a new era of hope.

I am, and indeed we all are, indebted to the Reverend Earl Storey, Director of The Hard Gospel Project and all Members of the Committee, for this electrifying piece of work. I am indebted also to Mr David Gardiner for the way in which he carried out the research among people of the diocese, how he showed both sensitivity and courage, how he analyzed his findings and how he has given so generously of his time and expertise to this project. The fact that the Director of The Hard Gospel Project is a son of Clogher Diocese is surely a source of pride to so many of us. Later in our Synod today, the Report: Whatever you say, say nothing …will be launched. What in the Anglican world we call: the process of reception will then begin.


A number of new clergy began work and a number of new initiatives has taken place in the diocese since we met at The Synod of Clabby in 2007. Miss Naomi Quinn began work in the Ematris Group of Parishes in the autumn of 2007 working closely under the supervision of the Reverend Robert Kingston. Naomi came to us as an experienced Diocesan Reader from Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh and has settled quickly into the life of the Grouped Parishes and the diocese. She is also now an ordinand and has embarked on the Foundation Year for the new Master in Theology degree. In November 2007 the Reverend Colin Bell was instituted to the Aghadrumsee Group of Parishes. Colin had served in the diocese before, having been incumbent of Colaghty Parish from 2000 to 2002. I know that Colin looked forward greatly to returning to work in Clogher Diocese and during his brief tenure he carried out the work of Rural Dean of Clones. Regrettably things changed and Colin resigned at the end of July 2008. We wish him and his wife and family well in what life holds next for them. The Venerable Cecil Pringle resigned as incumbent of Rossorry Parish in early 2008 after twenty-seven years of unbroken and assiduous ministry. Continuing as archdeacon of the diocese, he carries the responsibility for the Drumkeeran Group of Parishes. In February 2008 the Reverend Helene Steed was instituted incumbent of the Clones Group of Parishes. Helene spent three years as Dean’s Vicar in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral Cork after considerable experience of rural ministry in her native Sweden. She is currently the only incumbent in the Church of Ireland through the provisions of The Porvoo Agreement and, interestingly, as a Lutheran, is a Member of the Anglican-Lutheran International Commission. This is a tremendous distinction for her in her own right and we are honoured and delighted that Helene serves in Clogher and continues in this significant international role. The Reverend Margaret Pringle, after almost three fruitful years in the Clogher Cathedral Group of Parishes, moved in April 2008 to the Donagh Group of Parishes. She, like Naomi Quinn, works closely with and under supervision of the Reverend Robert Kingston, Rural Dean of Monaghan. The Reverend Elizabeth Thompson has been working in Enniskillen Cathedral Parish since the spring of this year and the Reverend Alison Seymour-Whitely in the Clogher Cathedral Group of Parishes. The Reverend Charles Eames, our most recently ordained cleric, works in Magheracross Parish while continuing his secular employment. The Reverend Arthur Barrett, still in his first month as rector of Rossorry, has come from the Diocese of Elphin and is very welcome to our diocese.

The Reverend Alison Seymour-Whiteley was ordained priest on June 1st in St Macartan’s Cathedral, Clogher where she serves. In St Macartin’s Cathedral Enniskillen on June 11th the Reverend Charles Eames was ordained deacon. Mr Simon Genoe expects to complete his training for ministry this academic year and Mrs Lorraine Capper has entered the second year of training. Miss Naomi Quinn and Mrs Stephanie Woods have embarked on the Foundation Year of the new-style training of ordinands. The Reverend Stephen Farrell, from Dromore Parish, was ordained by the archbishop of Dublin in his cathedral in June and serves in Taney Parish, Dublin Diocese. We continue to appreciate the work of retired clergy and Readers who make it possible for us all to be members of a Diocese which runs with efficiency and where worship continues in a regular cycle, availing of the talents of those who generously give of themselves Sunday by Sunday. We are also very appreciative of the work of Diocesan Pastoral Assistants – a form of ministry unique to the diocese of Clogher in the Church of Ireland - who, as lay people, bring a richness of human experience to pastoral ministry in parishes across the diocese. To all of you: Thank you.

To our Synod today we have pleasure in welcoming The Reverend Colin Dickson and Mr James Cochrane of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland from the Cavanaleck Congregation; The Reverend Joseph McGuinness of the Roman Catholic Church from Enniskillen and The Reverend Daphne Twinem of the Methodist Church from Fivemiletown as Official Guests. I trust that Members of Synod will join me in welcoming you all, along with Sir Anthony Hart, Assessor, and we look forward to the time which you will share with us this evening and your participation.


I wish to record my sincere thanks and appreciation to Mr Ivan Beacom FCA who has served assiduously as Diocesan Accountant for the period 2000 to 2008. Ivan became known to us all for his meticulous attention to detail, his assured grasp on paper of the complexities of the financial aspects of diocesan life and for his willingness to work long hours on behalf of the diocese after a demanding week’s work. Ivan, we are delighted that you are with us this evening and express to you our heartfelt thanks.

Throughout this year, as last, we have been blessed by a very effective Diocesan Office, a very efficient and pleasant group of people in Glenn Moore, Ruth McKane and now our new Diocesan Accountant, Leslie Stevenson whom I also welcome this evening. All three of them go the extra mile to help any who approach them for information or for assistance. For six months of the year we also had the pleasure of Walter Pringle who worked as the co-ordinator of MACARTAN 1500+Project. The MACARTAN Projects, now positively brought to a conclusion, have made an invaluable and irreversible contribution to our profile and self-confidence as a diocese in contemporary Ireland. In turn, we as a diocese have made a contribution to the developing quest for a new type of community and society in Northern Ireland and have been stimulated to fresh thinking and inspired to fresh action in our everyday discipleship. My thanks are extended to the Rural Development Council and the Fermanagh Local Strategy Partnership, along with the Church of Ireland Priorities Fund, for their funding.


I began by saying what a pleasure it is for us to gather this year in Aghavea for our Diocesan Synod – and indeed it is. I went on to begin to explore with you something of what it is to see the church as shaped for mission. In my modest remarks, I have sought to draw out some of the possibilities embedded in the Vision and Statement of the bishops, clustered as it is around three words: growth, unity and service. These describe our calling as disciples of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Calling to what? Calling, I suggest, each and every one of us in our baptism, to follow and, in following, to be sent again and again by God in God’s mission. The way, the truth and the life - these words, familiar and too often tripping off the tongue – bring us in St John’s Gospel to the heart of Jesus, to that essential and inescapable linking of glory and suffering.

This linking of suffering and glory is not, as well you know, ladies and gentlemen Members of Synod, something confined to the pages of Holy Scripture. It is written deep in the hearts of everyone here and of everyone in the parishes which we represent. Whether it be a fireside chair once occupied but now no longer; whether it be a place at the kitchen table once buzzing with eager conversation, but now no longer; whether it be someone with whom we worked all our lives, no longer now sharing with us a few words in the evening before we both head for home – in our own individual lives, one by one, we know both the suffering and the glory. And this is precisely why the human experience of Jesus Christ, the child of God and the child of Bethlehem, is so precious and so powerful for us. It connects heaven and earth. It holds together life and death. It gives voice to both glory and suffering. And it does so because, under God, it unites cross and resurrection. And this is why we, in our day, must respond to that call to follow, and in following, to be sent where we never expected to have to go – in service and in mission to individuals like ourselves to whom we belong in community.

The spirit of Clogher remains well encapsulated in the Collect for St Macartan’s Day: building and strengthening of the church, Gospel proclamation and leadership, reconciliation and peace in society in our time. These are all the bedrock and the building blocks of mission in the church. To this we are called once again in 2008. I ask you to pause in silence, seated as you are, as I say and pray with you the Collect of St Macartan:
Heavenly Father, we thank you for Macartan, faithful companion of St Patrick, and builder of your church in Clogher: Build up your church through those whom you call to leadership in this generation and strengthen your church to proclaim the gospel of reconciliation and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

+Michael Clogher: 25.ix.2008

Date: 25 September 08