St Patrick’s, Ballymena, hosted the fourth in the series of Rural Deanery meetings taking place across Connor Diocese as part of the Vision Strategy process.
Parishioners and members of the Select Vestry from Ahoghill and Portglenone; Armoy, Loughguile and Drumtallagh; Ballymena and Ballyclug; Craigs, Dunaghy and Killagan; Ramoan and Culfeightrin and Skerry, Rathcavan and Newtowncrommelin were all invited to attend.
The Rev Alan McCann, a member of the Vision Strategy Group, outlined the background to the Vision Strategy, and 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 Archdeacon of Dalriada, the Ven Stephen Forde, presented a Powerpoint illustrating examples of Best Practice in the Diocese, and all parishes were given a copy of this.
Later 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 Vision Strategy Rural Deanery meeting takes place in Ballymoney Parish Centre on Monday May 28, beginning at 7.30pm and is for the Rural Deanery of Coleraine.