Saturday, 21 June 2014

Moving Out Together - The Conference of the Methodist Church in Ireland

I travelled from Belfast to Dublin to attend the Methodist Conference along with Daleep, Jonathan and Jenny. The train was running late but I was met at the station by Rev Donald Ker, the Secretary of the Conference and he took me to Rev Andrew Dougherty's manse where Andrew and his wife welcomed us warmly and we shared a lovely meal together. These were just the first of the whole series of warm welcomes I received for the next few days.

The next morning as I ate breakfast in the hotel, I was greeted by the President Designate, Rev Peter Murray and his wife, Liz. I went with them to the Ministerial session of the Conference.
The Conference was held in a church building owned by the Church of Ireland, that had been the home of the Methodist congregation for a few years and was now the place of worship for the Romanian Orthodox Church. It was a fitting ecumenical setting in the year when intrchangeability of ministry has become a reality between the Methodist Church in Ireland and the Church of Ireland.

The Ministerial Session was chaired by the President, Rev Heather Morris. Heather was the first woman to be President of the Methodist Church in Ireland and we have met on a few occasions during the last year. I have enjoyed being with Heather and have valued her inspirational ministry and leasdership.
The ex-President, Rev Heather Morris with a colleague
That evening the representative session of the Conference opened with a service of thanksgiving and the induction of the President. As in our tradition, the President handed on the Presidential cross to her successor. fter this there was a significant difference as two archbishops and a bishop of the Church of Ireland joined the President, The Secretry of the Conference, the Lay Leader and myself for the induction of the President. As we stood around him and commissioned him, I was deeply aware that history was being made.
Discussion groups in progress

On the following three days, each day's business began with a Bble Study led by the Archbishop of Armagh. The theme for the conference was 'Moving Out Together' and built on the theme of the last year which focused on the warmed hearts, wet feet and tough hands of the people of God called to mission. We all agreed that the Bible studies were a highlight of our time together. During the days of the Conference we met in formal sessions to do business and at other times were facilitated by Diane Clutterbuck as we worked in groups considering the mission of the church.

The ordinands with the President
The final event of the Conference was the ordination service and I was honoured to be invited to preach and to take part in the ordination of Sam, Ken, John and Ruth as presbyters in the Church of God. They are worthy!
Daleep with Azra

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