Clogher Diocesan Synod took place on Thursday 27th September 2012 in St Macartin’s Cathedral Hall, Enniskillen. During the Pre-Synod Service of Holy Communion, at which the bishop was celebrant, Mr George Montgomery, a synod member from Aughnamullen Parish along with Miss Marion Henderson of the Methodist Church and Mr Martin Donnelly of the Roman Catholic Church read the lessons, and the Revd David Cupples, of the Presbyterian Church, assisted with the administration of Communion. The Curate Assistant of Magheraculmoney, the Revd Caroline Mansley, read the Gospel reading and Mr Jim Kerr, a Diocesan Reader, led the intercessions.
The Assessor was Sir Anthony Hart, and Synod opened with a reading from Ephesians read by Mr. Bert Robinson, a synod member from Galloon Parish, and prayers that were led by Archdeacon Cecil Pringle.
In his address, the bishop spoke about the purpose of Diocesan Synods stating, “our stewardship of our physical and financial resources is a very serious and sacred trust.” He went on to say “many States in the Western world are facing up to the fact that, for the first time in perhaps a century, the next generation will not be as well off as our generations have been. In our stewardship I hope we can do better. The whole financial system of the Western world has frequently been put in jeopardy because of short-sightedness; it is for us to take a longer view.”
Referring to the recent visit of Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, the bishop said “how joyful an occasion it turned out to be. The dean of Clogher, who was responsible for most of the organisation ... did so with tremendous energy. I know that he is still being contacted by people from all over the world saying how much they enjoyed the televised coverage.” He continued by saying that he also had received “very positive comments about the excellent organisation, the sincerity of the worship and the warmth of the occasion. And there is no doubt which part of the televised coverage has made the greatest impact; and that is the walk across the road by the clergy, Protestant and Roman Catholic, to St. Michael’s Church. That part of the day was only possible because Canon O’Reilly and his parishioners entered so wholeheartedly into the spirit of the occasion; and for that I wish to thank him and them equally wholeheartedly.”
Continuing, the bishop stated that “mutual listening and respect was also in evidence in the Ulster Covenant event held recently in the Clinton Centre, which the Diocese and the Protestant Churches in Enniskillen organised in cooperation with the Fermanagh Grand Orange Lodge, and which was such a success.” And in the context of education he went on to say that “it is also significant that the Learning Together Project organised by the Fermanagh Trust is quietly and graciously helping to break down old barriers and to help promote good community relations. Each of these events and initiatives is based on the understanding that we are proud of who we are and secure in our own traditions; and it is from this place of security that we can step out and listen respectfully to others and share our common life in so many ways.”
During his address the bishop referred to the retirement of The Most Revd Alan Harper, paying tribute to his “unwavering loyalty and dedication to his high calling…he is a man of complete integrity and conscientiousness who has had to lead the Church of Ireland through some very difficult territory, and has done so with great sensitivity and skill, and, I know, much prayer. We owe him a great deal and wish him and Helen well in retirement.”
Commenting on his first year as Bishop of Clogher, he said “what I found to a large degree bore out my first anticipations- a widespread, busy Diocesan family of very varied character.” He went on to say of the dicoese and its people “you have quite a high proportion of younger people (up to the age of eighteen anyway) in your Churches week by week. That is very encouraging to see and I would like to build on it. One way of doing so is to involve young people as much as possible in the life of the parish and particularly in worship. It is for that reason that the Diocesan Council have approved a Music Bursary Scheme to encourage all people (but especially young people) to use their musical gifts in worship. Essentially the Scheme will assist with the cost of music tuition, and help to find suitable tuition, for those who will make a commitment to make a musical contribution in worship.”
Referring to mission overseas the bishop said “the recent celebration of mission work and trips which our parishes undertook last year to places as diverse as Kenya and Guatemala and which was held in the Cathedral was a very moving and interesting evening. Parish life can be routine, but it should never be static.”
Speaking about parish life, the bishop said “every parish in this diocese is sustained by the grace of God to do four things. They are there to worship God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They are there to teach God’s people and to draw them closer to His heart of love. They are there to serve the community in which they live- that is to serve in works of costly service. And they are there to promote mission so that the Name of Jesus Christ is known at home and overseas. To worship, to teach, to serve and to engage in mission. Those are four headings against which any parish could make an assessment of how faithfully and fruitfully it is carrying out the tasks to which God has called it.”
Posing some questions the bishop asked “is our worship of the highest quality we can achieve? Does it really engage and involve people from every generation in the parish? Does it reflect all the stages of salvation history that our Prayer Book caters for? It is quite proper that each parish should ask itself the question Are we teaching people the Faith as it has been received by the Church of Ireland. And also, how do we serve the community in which we are placed. What are the needs of those around us; especially the needs of the lonely and the poor and the sick and the outcast? How do we witness to this faith with Christian people from traditions other than our own. And finally, how can so great a salvation be made known in word and deed to those who have no apparent interest in it in this country and abroad.”
In conclusion the bishop said “my first year, under God, as your Bishop has been for me a year of new beginnings, endless opportunities and very warm welcomes. For all these I give thanks to Our Lord Jesus Christ, your God and mine.”
Following the bishop’s address, the four outgoing honorary secretaries, the Revd Canon Maurice Armstrong, the Revd Canon Bryan Kerr, Mr. John Irvine and Cllr Rosemary Barton, were re-elected. Greetings were brought to Synod by the Revd David Cupples on behalf of the Presbyterian Church, the Revd Eleanor Hayden on behalf of the Methodist Church and the Very Revd Canon Peter O’Reilly on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Bishop presented awards on behalf of the Diocesan Board of Religious Education, the Archdeacon Ruddell Prize was awarded to St Salvator's Sunday School, Glaslough, and the Bishop’s Medal was awarded to Hannah Dudgeon of St Salvator's Sunday School, Glaslough.
The 141st Report of the Diocesan Council was proposed by Mrs. Joy Graham and seconded by the Revd Canon Ian Berry. During her speech, Mrs. Graham thanked the Bishop for his chairmanship of council during the past year, and also to thanked the honorary secretaries and administrative staff for their work. During the Synod interval all present enjoyed a buffet meal.
A motion proposed by Mrs. Ethne McCord and seconded by the Revd Henry Blair, to amend the Diocesan Financial Scheme was passed unanimously, and will come into effect in 2013.
The Revd Henry Blair spoke to the Diocesan Youth Committee (NI) Report, and the Revd Robert Kingston spoke to the Diocesan Youth Committee (County Monaghan) Report. The Report of the Clogher Diocesan Board of Religious Education was proposed by the Revd Canon David Skuce and seconded by the Revd Margaret Pringle, and the Report of the Clogher Diocesan Board of Mission was proposed by Miss Marie McCordick and seconded by the Revd Sampson Ajuka.
The Report of the Clogher Diocesan Board of Social Theology in Action was proposed by the Revd Robert Kingston and seconded by the Revd Charles Eames.
The Revd Canon Maurice Armstrong spoke to the Diocesan Ministry of Healing Report, and the Report of the Clogher Diocesan Glebes Committee was proposed by Mr Robert Forde and seconded by the Revd Chancellor Stanley Bourke.
Bishop John McDowell
Revd David Cupples representing the Presbyterian Church
Presentation of Bishop's Medal
Archdeacon Cecil Pringle
Revd Canon David Skuce
Revd Eleanor Hayden representing the Methodist Church
Mrs Ethne McCord
Revd Geoff Bridle
Members of Donagh Parish