A Local Covenant Partnership has been signed between the Church of Ireland and Methodist Chaplaincies at Queen’s University, Belfast.
For the past five years there has been ongoing prayer and dialogue concerning how the two Chaplaincies might work more closely together, and in the past two years this has progressed considerably, with Connor Diocesan Council giving its approval to the Local Covenant Partnership Agreement and the Methodist Conference recognising the Church of the Resurrection as a Methodist congregation.
As Bishop of Connor and Chair of the Church of Ireland Student Centre Committee of Management, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy signed the Partnership agreement on behalf of the Church of Ireland, with Rev Dr Heather Morris, District Superintendent of the Belfast Methodist Circuit, signing on behalf of the Methodist Church.
The Local Covenant Partnership commits both Chaplaincies to working together across every aspect of the life and ministry at Queen’s University. Students now apply to life in residence at a single student centre, and can become resident in any of the houses owned by either the Church of Ireland or Methodist Church.
The focus is not on two communities sharing in joint activities, but rather a single community formed out of two traditions that lives in community and engages in mission.
Church of Ireland Chaplain, the Rev Barry Forde, said: “In the Church of the Resurrection the sacramental ministry reflects both denominations, and later this year we plan a joint service of Confirmation and Reception into Membership for some of the young people who attend.
“In past years we have engaged in mission together, both at home and abroad, working with Church of Ireland and Methodist churches in Newtownabbey, Lisburn, and Sligo. There have been two teams that have worked with the 24/7 prayer movement in Ibiza, along with a wide range of on–campus activities that seek to reach out and support the staff and students on the Queen’s campus.”
Barry continued: “The Local Covenant Partnership commits both Chaplaincies to forming a single Covenant Management Group to oversee the life, vision and mission of the Student Centre, and as such marks the end of the beginning of what we hope and pray will be a Spirit–filled, Christ–following, and God–glorifying future for the work of the Chaplaincies at Queens.”
He thanked the representatives of both churches who gathered to witness the signing for their support, encouragement and will to see such unity visibly realised. Methodist Chaplain the Rev John Alderdice led a time of prayer for the future life and ministry at Queen’s.
Covenant signing: Back from left: Rev Des Bains, Gen Sec, Home Missions, Methodist Church; Tom Wilson, Lay Treasurer, Home Mission Fund; Rev John Alderdice, Prof Alan Hibbert, Rev Donald Ker, Rev Barry Forde. Front, from left: Bishop of Connor, Flo Ferguson, Church of Ireland Domestic Bursar; Maura Pringle, Church of Ireland Exec Committee, Rev Heather Morris.
Covenant signing, back, from left: Rev John Alderdice, Methodist Chaplain at Queen’s; Prof Alan Hibbert, Chair, Church of Ireland Executive Committee; Rev Donald Ker, Methodist chair of the Chaplaincy Committee; Rev Barry Forde, Church of Ireland Chaplain at Queen’s. Front, L–R The Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, Bishop of Connor and Rev Heather Morris, Methodist District Superintendent.