Conference explores topic of human sexuality with ‘sensitivity and grace’

Friday February 21st 2014

At the conference on human sexuality hosted by Connor Diocese are, from left: Archdeacon Stephen Forde; Archdeacon Stephen McBride (chair); Archdeacon George Davison; Ms Pam Tilson (speaker); the Rev Dr Bryan Follis (speaker) and the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy.As part of the process of explori
ng issues surrounding human sexuality taking place throughout the Church of Ireland, the Diocese of Connor has been has been grouped with the Diocese of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory and the Diocese of Kilmore, Elphiin and Ardagh. 

Representatives from all three dioceses are to meet at the Emmaus Conference Centre, Swords, Co Dublin on Saturday March 29 2014.

A preliminary meeting for the Diocese of Connor was held on Thursday February 13 at 7.30pm in St Patrick’s Parish Hall, Ballymena.

The Bishop invited every parish to be represented at this diocesan meeting and the chairman of the evening, the Ven Dr Stephen McBride, Archdeacon of Connor, said it was encouraging to see that more than 200 people from across the diocese gathered at St Patrick’s for what was a most interesting evening of discussion and debate.

Speakers Ms Pam Tilson and the Rev Bryan Follis.Those present listened intently to presentations from The Rev Dr Bryan Follis, Rector of All Saints’ Parish, Belfast and Ms Pam Tilson, Rector’s Churchwarden in St George’s Parish, Belfast, and a member of Changing Attitudes Ireland.

Following the presentations, there was a time for group discussion when the delegates were asked to consider what issues raised by the speakers had challenged them and made them think differently, and also to examine areas of concern they had as members of the Church of Ireland regarding this topic.

Archdeacon Stephen McBride chaired the conference.The evening ended with questions from the delegates which were answered by the presenters before Dr Follis and Ms Tilson summed up the discussions.

Archdeacon McBride said: “The subject of human sexuality is one that has been debated throughout not only the Church of Ireland but the whole Anglican Communion and is one that has the potential to be extremely damaging to our unity. It was very encouraging to witness the discussion in Ballymena being carried out with sensitivity and grace.”

The Archdeacon said a comment by one delegates (below) aptly encapsulated the atmosphere of the evening.

“Like many people, I had no real enthusiasm for attending the meeting in Ballymena expecting the same old stalemate of two opposing views and a ‘no surrender’ mentality. It was very refreshing and uplifting to experience a frank exchange of views in a non–confrontational way and I think everyone went away understanding the other side a little more and happy that they had had an opportunity to express their viewpoint.”

Atendees at the Connor Conference on sexuality.







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