Hope and optimism marked the atmosphere of the Diocesan Synod for the Dioceses of Meath and Kildare on Saturday 27 September. Up to 100 members gathered in Trim for what would be the first Synod presided over by Bishop Pat Storey.
In her first Presidential Address Bishop Storey talked about the warm welcome she had received and how in her first year she had specifically planned to spend a lot of time “listening and learning”. In this process she had observed, in the dioceses, a mixture of faithfulness and a willingness to work hard for the sake of the future. This combined with a strong sense of being a diocesan family created an evident hope for the future amongst the membership.
Bishop Storey referred to the 2011 State Census that found there are 10,700 people who indicate they are Church of Ireland, living in Meath and Kildare. She then turned to the recent census the Church of Ireland itself conducted noting “that on any given Sunday, and of course there are variations, Meath and Kildare had about 1,600 churchgoers. This is around 15% of those who say they are Church of Ireland, and that was a fairly typical percentage in all 12 Dioceses”.
The Bishop drew attention to the fact “that between the State census of 2002 and that of 2012 the Church of Ireland population has actually increased by about 15%”. She said the figures represented “both good news and a challenge … we have a mission field, in our own population, of another 85% of people who could be a part of our closer community. So what does this mean for us? How do we engage these people, or indeed why would we … this is about asking the question, what is our core message? And how are we getting that across? Our only reason for existence – even though lots of good things come from it – is the good news of the gospel in Jesus Christ. That is why we are here. That’s our core message; our good news. Jesus can change your life”.
Churches are often exercised by how to engage the next generation. She reflected, “How do we pass on the faith that means so much to us? Where do they fit in church life … for many of you they are your children and grandchildren and you long for them to have the same passion as you do for your church and for our God”. She said that the Diocesan Council as well as Finance and Glebes Committee were already considering how they might invest resources to meet the challenge and opportunity.
Concluding her remarks Bishop Pat thanked many for their valuable work and support, and in keeping with the theme of the day, she looked forward to the future with optimism.
Presentations were also received by International Justice Ministry – engaged in the fight against human trafficking as well the Commission on Episcopal Ministry.
The Synod took place in the Diocesan Hall in Trim, with the business of the day being interspersed with an excellent lunch.
For further information contact Earl Storey (Diocesan Communications Officer) Tel 0894 264652