The Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, was remembered in prayers at the annual Synod of the Diocese of Connor, held in Ballymena on 13th June 2019.
Bishop Alan, who is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, sent greetings to the Synod in the form of a video, played in place of his presidential address. In it, he spoke about his treatment, thanked the people of diocese for their prayers, and paid tribute to his three Archdeacons, who have taken turns to act as Commissary.
The Synod was chaired by the Archdeacon of Belfast, the Ven George Davison
During the business of Synod, which met in Ballymena Elim Centre, tributes were paid to the late Dean Fred Rusk and the late Archdeacon Albert Duncan.
Dean John Bond was welcomed as the new Diocesan Curate, following the retirement of Canon Ken Ruddock. Archdeacon Davison said: “We recognise how big a task it is and it needs someone with the depth of knowledge of the diocese and parish to take this on.”
The Report of Diocesan Council and Associated Motions were proposed by the Rev Jonny Campbell-Smyth and seconded by Mrs Andrea Cotter.
Many speakers paid tribute to the Diocesan Development Team, including the Rev Andrew Campbell, Skerry, Rathcavan and Newtowncromellin, who made particular mention of Youth Officer Christina Baillie and her team, and Diocesan Development Officer Trevor Douglas who had helped develop a parish strategy.
“The support and resources we as clergy have on offer are invaluable as we seek to serve our Lord Jesus Christ in mission,” Andrew said.
Archdeacon Paul Dundas, rector of Christ Church, Lisburn, praised the team for activities including Summer Madness, Streetreach, the ‘Journey’ resource and the All Aboard programme. He said Patrick’s Mysterious Adventures, staged in Christ Church Parish, had been a clear presentation of the story of St Patrick and his Christian faith, and had passed that message on to hundreds of children and adults.
He congratulated Connor Children’s Project Development Officer Jill Hamilton, Sister Karen Webb from the North Belfast Centre of Mission, and his curate the Rev Derek Harrington for putting the event together.
The Rev Tracey McRoberts, rector of St Matthew’s and Mid Belfast Rural Dean, said Connect Base, the North Belfast Centre of Mission, had made a real difference in the area. “It has brought cohesion to parishes through blessing, encouragement, support and a listening ear,” she said.
Archdeacon Davison thanked the entire diocesan team. “We owe them a huge debt of gratitude,” he said.
Presentation to Rev Canon Will Murphy
The Archdeacon made a presentation to the Rev Canon Will Murphy, who has retired as Diocesan Director of Ordinands (DDO) after 27 years, and new DDO the Rev Canon Kevin Graham encouraged delegates to support Vocations Sunday (September 15th).
Before the end of discussions around the Diocesan Council Report, Archdeacon Davison expressed gratitude to Lay Readers who, he said, do a tremendous job.
There was a presentation from PSNI Chief Superintendent Simon Walls on the Scamwise NI project to protect people from being scammed.
Business was suspended as delegates enjoyed dinner in nearby St Patrick’s Parish Hall.
Back in the Synod Hall, Dean Stephen Forde took the opportunity, in relation to reports submitted to synod by both Belfast Cathedral (St Anne’s) and Lisburn Cathedral, to encourage people to consider coming along to St Anne’s for Choral Evensong and hear ‘a top class choir in a beautiful place of reflection.’
Synod agreed a motion proposed by the Rev Amanda Adams that the partnership with Yei Diocese in South Sudan be continued for two years from 2019.
Before the close of business, Mr Ken Gibson, Hon Lay Secretary, thanked the three Archdeacons on behalf of the laity, and the Rev Alan McCann added his thanks on behalf of the clergy.
Keynote speech by Phil Potter
The evening continued with a keynote speech by Phil Potter, retired Archbishop of Canterbury’s Missioner and Leader of the Church of England Fresh Expressions Team, on the topic ‘A Heart for Mission.’
Archdeacon Paul Dundas then chaired a panel discussion on IDLE (Inter Diocesan Learning Experience) made up of the Ven Andrew Forster, Archdeacon of Ardboe, Diocese of Armagh; Rhonda Willoughby, Naas Union, Diocese of Meath and Kildare; Phil Potter and Sister Karen Webb, North Belfast Centre of Mission.
This was followed by discussion and questions.
Earlier in the day, a Service of Holy Communion was held in St Patrick’s, Ballymena.
Read more news from the Diocese of Connor on their website here.