The Bishop of Connor’s first seminar in his 2018 Lent series on ‘God’s Mission and the Church Today’ took place in St Patrick’s Parish Hall, Jordanstown, on Thursday March 15.
A crowd of around 100 people from parishes in this area of the diocese and beyond attended the talk by the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy.
Before he began, Bishop Alan expressed thanks to his PA Mrs Rosemary Patterson, who retires later this month, and his words were warmly applauded.
He revealed that after 11 years, he is the second longest serving Bishop of Connor. “I am very conscious that over the last number of years, we have been talking about different things, such as strategy, mission, ministry, and engaging with culture. But they are all connected,” The Bishop said.
“That left me wondering where do I go next?”
He spoke about two occasions as Bishop which had left an indelible mark on him – one was the Lambeth Conference in 2008 when he spent two weeks with bishops from all over the world. “It struck me that mission was the same, yet different in every culture, and the question I always wanted to ask is what is the mission of God in our context?” Bishop Alan said.
The other outstanding occasion was representing the Church of Ireland at the World Council of Churches in Busan, South Korea, a concrete city without birdsong, surrounded by a grey unhealthy sea. “What struck me profoundly when meeting Christians from all over the world in that context was how much of mission was cultural?” he said.
He told the audience that Mission means ‘being sent.’
“We are sent by Jesus as He was sent by the Father and we are equipped by the Holy Spirit,” the Bishop said. “This sending is rooted in our own discipleship and we are bound together in Christ to find encouragement and strength in each other.”
Bishop Alan outlined his five Marks in Mission, and suggested ways people can further their own mission.
There was a break for refreshments and fellowship mid-way through the Bishop’s talk, and Bishop Alan responded to a number of questions at the end.
There will be another Lent Talk by Bishop Alan in Lisburn Cathedral on Tuesday March 20 at 7.30pm. The Bushmills Talk, which had been due to take place on March 5, was cancelled due to the weather.