The General Synod of the Church of Ireland will meet in Christ Church Cathedral from 10th until 12th May inclusive. This annual event, which in recent years, has alternated between Armagh and Dublin, is the main decision-making body of the Church of Ireland at work as it discusses and decides on issues within the wider Church. Every three years, triennial elections are held as part of the Easter General Vestry in every parish of the Church of Ireland – the most recent being held in 2011. At these triennial elections, representatives to Diocesan Synods are chosen and in these United Dioceses they attended their first of three sessions in October 2011. As part of that last October meeting, elections were held to choose representatives to General Synod and it is those who were deemed elected who are the delegates for this upcoming meeting, thus ensuring a democratic representation throughout.
Prior to the meeting of General Synod, a Book of Reports is published, containing reports from bodies such as The Representative Church Body, The Board of Education, The Church of Ireland Youth Department, The Covenant Council, the Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue, The Commission on Ministry, amongst others. (The full Book of Reports is available online at www.synod.ireland.anglican.org). Over the course of the three days, these reports will be presented and debated one by one. Also, this year there are currently six bills and twenty-three motions to be brought before the Synod ensuring a very full agenda indeed! Let it be our prayer that the Holy Spirit may guide all the deliberations, debates and decisions at this Synod and that a sense of fellowship, understanding and a willingness to listen to differing points of view may prevail for the duration of the proceedings.
Returning to a more parochial level, we look forward to the main morning Service on Sunday 13th May being led by our Confirmation candidates. They have selected as their theme for this Service “God is Love” and have chosen relevant hymns and Bible readings. And this is a very appropriate theme as it marks the beginning of Christian Aid Week which runs from 13th – 19th May. This year Christian Aid is using as its motto “Let’s give the tools to get people in poverty out of poverty”. It is planned to have a voluntary collection with a display of posters and leaflets on the work of Christian Aid at the after-church coffee. For the more enterprising and energetic, there will be brochures available on fund-raising ideas which include a 300 mile (aka 482.8 kilometres in ‘new money’!!) “Titanic” cycle challenge spread over 4 days, going from Belfast to Cobh, Co. Cork (from the site of launch to last port of call) or a four peaks in 48 hours challenge (climbing the highest point in all four Irish Provinces).
However, some of our younger parishioners will be facing less exciting challenges of their own over the coming weeks as they make their final preparations for either State or University examinations. This can be a time fraught with stresses and tensions in many households for both candidates and extended families alike. Let us keep all those concerned in our prayers over the coming weeks as we wish them every success and may they get a just reward for all their efforts.
With every blessing,
The Revd. John Tanner. Tel: 289 3154 / 086 302 1376