The 32nd meeting of the Irish Inter-Church Meeting (IICM) took place on November 10-11 in Dromantine Conference Centre, Newry.
The theme for the meeting was ‘Creatively reconfiguring our post-pandemic understanding of church.’ Representatives from across the island gathered to reflect together on how churches can connect with a changed post-pandemic world.
Professor John Fitzgerald (Trinity College Dublin) began by tracing the story from January 2020 to November 2022, giving an analysis of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on society on the island of Ireland.
Participants then reflected on a changing local church, led by Breige O’Hare (First Step Well counselling and support service), who provided opportunities to prayerfully reflect on the impact of these changing and challenging times on those working in ministry at local level.
She focused in particular on the importance of churches creating space for people to deepen robust, honest relationships with Christ and with each other in these anxious times.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has affected – this island, its impact for those in the global church has been significantly different – it was often another amongst many crises. Speakers Bob Kikuyu of Christian Aid (Kenya) and Dr Conchita Reyes of Trócaire (Guatemala) shared about the situation in their countries.
With Orthodox and Migrant-led churches represented in the Irish Council of Churches membership, a panel discussion between Fr Anish John (Indian Orthodox) and Pastor Dare Adetuberu (Redeemed Christian Church of God), joined by Ruth Garvey-Williams (editor of Vox magazine) highlighted what the distinctive impact of the pandemic has been for them, and at grassroots across the country.
Finally, Joe McKeown, Youthlink’s Research and Curriculum Development Officer, facilitated a panel of young people from YouthLink who shared their perspective on the Covid–19 pandemic, and its effects on their day-to-day and social lives.
The meeting closed with a reflective session exploring what the Spirit is saying to the Churches at this time, led by IICM Co-Chair, Bishop Andrew Forster.