The third Rural Deanery Meeting in Connor Diocese’s Vision Strategy process took place in Antrim Parish Hall on Monday May 14.
Around 130 people representing Select Vestries and parishioners from Ballynure and Ballyeaston; Connor and St Patrick’s; Drummaul, Duneane and Ballyscullion; Kilbride; Muckamore, Killead and Gartree; Templepatrick and Donegore; and Antrim attended the meeting.
The Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, spoke about the background to the Vision Strategy and the reasons for it, in particular the need for churches to adapt to the changing culture and communities in which they minister.
The Rev Alan McCann, a member of the Vision Strategy Group, gave a presentation of the findings of a survey of parishes in the diocese, and Bishop Alan then addressed some of the specifics of changing culture and context, something he had explored in depth in his recent series of Lent seminars
As part of the process, the Vision Strategy group has been identifying examples of good practice in parishes across the diocese, and a Powerpoint on some of the projects and ideas parishes have found successful was presented by the Archdeacon of Connor and Vicar of Antrim, the Ven Dr Stephen McBride.
This illustrated the breadth and variety of projects that have been initiated, highlighting the positive outcomes of each project as well as identifying things that, with hindsight, parishes would do differently.
At the meeting each parish was given a copy of the presentation to take back to their churches to prompt ideas and inspire parishes to consider what projects might best serve the needs of their community.
Everyone then split into parish groups, and each group discussed a series of set issues relating to changes in the context around their parish, signs of a widening gap between the church and the community and their fears and hopes about engaging with the community. They were also asked to think about possible next steps for their parish.
These discussions will continue within parishes as the strategy progresses.
Following a break for refreshments, Bishop Alan addressed any questions and looked towards the next stage in the strategy before the meeting closed with a short act of worship.
The next Rural Deanery Meeting as part of the Vision Strategy process takes place in St Patrick’s Parish Hall, Ballymena, on May 23, beginning at 7.30pm. For further details on Connor’s Vision Strategy, follow the link to the left of this page.