A directory listing 361 migrant-led churches and chaplaincies now existing across Ireland was launched on December 5 in Belfast.
The event was held in Edgehill Theological College and the directory was launched by Fr Irenaeus du Plessis of Belfast’s Antiochian Orthodox Church. Ireland’s Minister for Integration, Mr Conor Lenihan TD launched the directory in Dublin on December 7.
Compiled by the All-Ireland Churches Consultative Meeting on Racism (AICCMR), the directory gives the first real snapshot of the diversity of Christian practice in Ireland today, as well as being a practical source of information.
The research was carried out by Dr Scott Boldt, Yvonne Naylor, Rob Fairmichael and Naomi Brown in Northern Ireland and by Dr Livingstone Thompson of Meath Cultural Solutions and Dr Alan Bruce of Universal Learning Systems in the Republic of Ireland.
Executive Secretary of the Irish Inter-Church Meeting, Michael Earle, said: “This directory is a timely contribution to an ever-changing picture of new neighbours coming to live amongst us throughout this island. Its aim is to provide a centralised database and resource for new migrants, community groups, established Irish churches and the wider community on this island.
Mr Earle went on: “It serves as a mapping exercise to raise Irish awareness of the extraordinary changes taking place in our midst and of the growing research and understanding about ethnic, parallel and intercultural congregations that are developing in our local neighbourhoods.”
Philip McKinley, project officer leading on the development of the directory for the Church of Ireland’s Hard Gospel project, stated: “This directory has focused on churches and chaplaincies where migrants are key leaders and where their congregations are migrant majority.”
While the directory was launched in published form, and will also be kept up to date as an online directory at www.irishchurches.org.