Friday, 17 June 2011

Irish Conference 2011

Alison and I were warmly received at the 242nd Irish Conference, held in Newtownards, Ireland from 9-12th June. The atmosphere throughout was of generous hospitality and a church engaging with the significant effects of the current economic crisis alongside the remaining challenges of living in a post-conflict community. We heard of many inspiring ways in which the church is relating in its communities bringing a message of hope and peace. A new report on Pioneer Ministries spoke of the intention to create new ways of being church which were relational, missional and intentionally evangelistic.

Here are the British representatives to the Irish Conference alongside Alison and myself.
I invited my colleague Rev Eden Fletcher, Superintendent of the Newcastle Central and East Circuit and Alison invited her friend Mrs Jennie Scutt who was also accompanied by her husband Rev Andrew Scutt.

Here we are with the newly installed Irish President Rev Ian Henderson accompanied by the Irish representatives to the British Conference.

The department of education and youth spoke of their work after giving us an example of a lively and vibrant presentation they have developed for use in schools, particularly amongst children with special needs.

On the Conference Platform -from left to right
Rev Paul Kingston - ex-President
Ms Gillian Kingston - Lay Leader of the Conference (3 year term of office)
Rev Ian Henderson- newly inducted President of Conference
Rev Donald Ker - Secretary of Conference

After the conference concluded with a wonderful Ordination service Eden and I took the opportunity to visit Edgehill College where we received wonderful hospitality from the Rev Richard, Prinicipal of the College and his wife Rev Diane Clutterbuck. We were deeply impressed by the premises and the resources available to the whole church community.
We also called into the East Belfast Mission (on our way to the Airport), having heard about their inspiring work over many years in responding to the needs of their community and engaging significantly in the peace process. We chatted with the Mission staff in their re:fresh cafe about the challenges of the past and the future.

Below is a picture of the building site from which will emerge the incredible new (£21 million) visionary project that will open next year, 'Skainos' from the Greek word meaning tent or dwelling. It will provide accommodation for the work of the East Belfast Mission, bringing together a new sanctuary, cafe, an employability centre, youth and community groups, social housing and a civic square. It speaks boldly as a sign of christian hope and commitment in the midst of the economic downturn by the East Belfast Mission to remain in an area it has served since 1809.

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