General Synod hears about church in action


General Synod members listen to Bishop Pat Storey on Saturday.

The work of the Standing Committee of the Church of Ireland was presented at Day 2 of General Synod in Armagh by Bishop Pat Storey and seconded by Alan Williamson.

She highlighted the MindMatters initiative. Regarding the Bishops' Appeal she observed that they had hit the ground running with numerous emergency appeals and raising funds for those effected by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, floods in Libya, and war in Gaza and the Middle East, and they continued support for those impacted by war in Ukraine.

In addition to emergency appeals Bishops’ Appeal continued to provide support for partnered projects in Pakistan, Uganda, Cambodia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Malawi, Peru, Kenya, Chile alongside the Tuam, Limerick and Killaloe diocesan fundraising for a Mothers’ Union literacy project in Burundi and a Feed the Minds sustainable business project in Madagascar.

Seconding the report, Alan Williamson highlighted the extension request for the Board for Ministry with Children and Families and said this had been a major initiative of the last three years and was one of the most significant projects undertaken by the Standing Committee over that time.

The generosity of dioceses had resulted in nearly €600,000 to support Priorities Fund projects over the next two years. Fifty�'five grants have been recommended igniting progress in outreach, Christian education, clergy and lay reader training and innovative ministry, he said.

Following a call for expressions of interest, Church and Society Commission welcomed nine new members to their existing team, Mr Williamson announced. The commission has a broad scope covering political, social and community issues and he wished them success in their work as they contributed a Christian voice to often sharp and painful debates.

Canon Malcolm Kingston (Armagh) thanked all who responded to the 2023 parish census. He said that the participation rate reached 98%. He said the data collected was based on information already held in churches. He said they intended to report to the June meeting of Standing Committee.

Neville Armstrong (Clogher) said that last year Synod asked CASC to explore means to engage with people affected by the Troubles. He said that the PSNI no longer have power to investigate the past and those powers have moved to a new commission. He said there was not much love for this new commission.

CASC, he said, had spent much of the last year trying to comprehend the burden felt by parishioners throughout the Church of Ireland. He said that the hurt was raw and he said careful research and consultation to prepare a comprehensive response. He said they looked forward to presenting a comprehensive response next year.

The Revd James Boyd who proposed the motion last year thanked CASC for taking on the work. He said that the church was beginning to sit up and take notice of it and support those in a practical way those who live with the legacy of the Troubles.

June Butler (Down) spoke about Mothers’ Union’s work with domestic abuse and said the she had brought this work to the attention of CASC. She urged members to visit the Mothers’ Union stand to see the resources they have for people living with domestic abuse and the Rise Up campaign. She highlighted their ‘Changing the Story’ course and asked churches and their parish teams to get involved in it. One in four people on this island have had some connection to domestic abuse, she said.

The General Synod continues on Tuesday with a Remote meeting, continuing with presentations to complete the agenda of items and approve bills and motions.