Bishop of Clogher speaks of importance of staying connected as church moves forward out of lockdown


The Bishop of Clogher Right Revd Dr. Ian Ellis preaching in St. Macartin's Cathedral Enniskillen.

The Bishop of Clogher, the Right Revd Dr. Ian Ellis, has spoken of the importance of staying connected with each other as society moves forward during the easing of lockdowns.

Bishop Ellis was giving his first address at a Service of Holy Communion in St. Macartin’s Cathedral, Enniskillen on Sunday, 2nd May which was introduced by Dean Kenneth Hall.

Taking his theme from a verse from the Gospel reading of St. John Chapter 15, “Abide in me as I abide in you. I am the vine and you are the branches,” the Bishop said if they are to have a healthy church, then the members should relate to one another.

“That’s a good place to start, thinking about what the church is like and about what it can be like in the future,” he said.
Bishop Ellis said during the past year or so, the internet had enabled people to use many different ways to connect with each other and in ways they had never dreamt of in the years before.

While the internet and its many platforms had been a vital way of keeping links between families with children and grandparents seeing each other across the world and many others have been working from home using this technology too, he wondered if people were really having proper connected lives.

“Might we able to be better connected?” he asked, “and are people talking to their neighbours?”

The lockdown had caused them to become more atomised, to be more scattered and fragmented, he felt.

He said the pandemic had caused everyone to have fewer social contact and it had increased isolation and loneliness for some yet at the same time, the pandemic had brought out some good things in human nature such as more volunteering for foodbanks and neighbourliness was getting better.

He said that in rural areas such as Clogher Diocese, they were quite well connected and they had neighbourliness values but they must still continue their duty to their neighbours and learn again to invest more time in those who are near them.

“Spending time with people as we open out of lockdown will be so important. As those restrictions ease, as people of faith, we should resolve to do better to develop sustained caring relationships and to find new ways of connecting with communities in authentic and relevant ways. It is about being connected to Christ and about being connected to others,” said Bishop Ellis.

He continued; “Sometimes we have to discipline ourselves to produce growth in our faith and that will mean perhaps more time in Bible study, in prayer, in a creative use of silence and how we reflect upon our lives. These things we can do to cultivate our closeness and our abiding in Jesus Christ.”

He said God did not create people to live isolated and individual lives. They were the branches of a vine and not pot plants or individual shoots or stems.

He said they needed to be connected together and needed the strengths of one another, to be part of the universal church and connected to those who are equally connected to Christ.

Bishop Ellis continued; “As churches begin to rebuild, rebuilding our connection with one another is going to be so important and we must put a high priority on getting our people to come back to corporate worship again when they are ready to do that.

“We should be encountering Christ in every experience we meet, seeing him in the needy, the poor and bearing witness with him in every context by our words, actions and attitudes.

“Faithful disciples need one another. Abide in me and I abide in you. Let’s make abiding in Christ our new priority as we move forward into new times with the Lord of the vineyard,” he concluded.