Connor Diocese Vision Strategy process continued on Thursday June 7 with a meeting of Lisburn Rural Deanery, hosted by Eglantine Parish.
Around 115 parishioners and members of select vestries from the nine parishes within the Lisburn Rural Deanery gathered in Eglantine Parish Hall on a very wet night to hear Bishop Alan and the Vision Strategy team talk about how ministry must evolve to engage with our changing culture.
They were welcomed by the rector of Eglantine, the Rev Tim Close, before the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, outlined the plan for the evening and referred to the three strands identified in the Vision Strategy: Empowering Ministry; Engaging Culture and Effecting Change.
The Rev Alan McCann, of the Vision Strategy group, gave a presentation on how the diocese had come to this point, focusing on the findings of a survey of all Connor’s parishes conducted last year.
Bishop Alan then spoke about how dramatically the culture and communities in which we live have changed in just a matter of decades, and stressed that the Church must make changes too.
A presentation followed on examples of Best Practice, highlighting some of the excellent work parishes in Connor are already doing to engage with their communities. Each parish has been given a copy of the extended presentation, which is aimed at sharing ideas and enthusing parishes about the type of action they could take, big or small, to reach out to the communities in which they minister.
Following a short video clip, each parish was split into separate discussion groups and tasked with considering a number of questions. These related 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.
It is hoped these discussions will continue at parish level.
Following refreshments, kindly provided by Eglantine Parish, Bishop Alan summed up the evening and spoke about the way ahead. Lisburn Rural Dean, the Rev Peter Galbraith, then closed the meeting with a short act of worship.
Parishes represented at this sixth meeting of Connor’s Rural Deaneries were: Eglantine, Ballinderry, Ballymacash, Broomhedge, Lisburn Cathedral, Christ Church, St Paul’s, Magheragall and Stoneyford.
The next meeting takes place in Holy Trinity, Woodburn, on Wednesday June 13 and is for the Rural Deanery of Carrickfergus.
The last two meetings, for the Rural Deaneries of Mid and South Belfast, will follow in September.