‘Prevailing through strong winds’ – Diocesan Synod meets ‘virtually’

Share this story

This year members of our Diocesan Synod met by video conference, due to the pandemic, at 11am on Saturday 25 September. The technology was organised by our Diocesan Secretary, Karen Seaman.

With its membership elected by parishesthe diocesan synod brings people together from across the Diocese. It is chaired by Bishop Pat Storey.

It is usually an opportunity to physically meet and discuss key areas of our life as a dioceses. Due to the pandemic it was not possible to plan an ‘in person’ meeting this year, so we held our diocesan synod virtually.

Every Church of Ireland diocesan synod consists of the bishop, the beneficed and licensed clergy of the diocese, and elected lay members from parishes from across the dioceses.

Small hopeful steps as we navigated and emerge from the pandemic was one of the thoughts in Bishop Pat Storey’s Presidential Address to members of the synod.

She talked of the challenges that the pandemic had brought. She said “God has taken us through – we have had intensely difficult times, and the isolation has been hard on every single one of us – but we are here, and God is good.”

She continued, “As a diocese, we will need time to take stock, feel around for where we are at, and in the new year, edge back into normal parish life. There have been severe challenges to every parish”. She continued, “… I am so proud that you have met them. Our dedicated members of parishes all over the diocese have continued to give financially, to pray for one another, and to give support to those who are struggling.”

The bishop observed how the clergy had learned to operate “in a new virtual world and enduring the limitations of providing pastoral care since March 2020. It has been a new world to navigate, and I am also very proud of how they have negotiated learning new skills, providing public worship differently …”

Talking of recovery from the pandemic she said, “There is a lot of trauma that will emerge from bereavement, isolation and anxiety …” She then highlighted the issue of mental health and the diocesan Mind Yourself to help and support those meeting mental health challenges, saying “there isn’t a family in Ireland that doesn’t have someone who does not always enjoy good mental health, and we must be a diocesan family who cares for the sick in all its forms.”

Bishop Storey also welcomed new members to the diocesan clergy team: to Alan Robinson, Yvonnne Hutchinson, James Reid and Alan Melbourne who were ordained as priests, and Philip McKinley, Marion Keating and Pat Ryan who were ordained as deacons.

You can download the full text of the Bishop’s address by clicking the link below.

Reports presented to members of Synod included:

  • A Financial Report and Statement of accounts.
  • The report from the Diocesan Council was was proposed by Mark Potterton. He acknowledged the challenges that the pandemic had brought across the dioceses. His speech can be viewed here:
  • Diocesan Board of Education. This was proposed by Rev Eugene Griffin.

Standing orders were suspended to allow two further reports. The first was from Luke Hawkins, our diocesan youth officer and part time chaplain to Wilson’s Hospital school. He talked of how how work had continued through the year, in accordance with the pandemic guidelines. Luke also thanked the Church of Ireland Youth Department for their support and resources. He was able to complete a range of theological and youth leadership training for himself during the year and is looking forward to youth work across the dioceses as Covid restrictions continue to lift.

Alison Jones, editor of Aspire, our diocesan magazine, gave the second report. She thanked everyone who had given such helpful support through the year, including clergy, magazine distributors and article writers. Aspire underwent a major redesign over this last year, which has been met with much positive feedback.

There was a sense in each of the contributions that the challenges, pain and loss that Covid had brought were very real. But there was also a recognition that through a collective effort we had so far ‘prevailed through strong winds’.