Connor Diocesan Synod – Presidential Address

Thursday June 22nd 2023

Bishop George Davison delivers his Presidential Address.

In a far-ranging Presidential Address to Diocesan Synod 2023, the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev George Davison, spoke about changes in the monarchy over the past year, Connor Clergy Conference and his vision for ‘Growing Healthy Churches.’

And speaking to around 250 clergy and lay members of the diocese, Bishop George called for an end to the stalemate in Stormont.

“The continued political vacuum in Northern Ireland, the absence of meaningful government in this province, is having real and profound effects on our health service, on our schools, on our economy,” Bishop George stated.

“The result of that is that people across Northern Irish society are suffering. Like many others, I know people who cannot get timely medical attention; whose children are missing out on educational opportunities; and families who are simply struggling to make ends meet.”

The Bishop continued: “I’m thankful for the practical ways in which Christian people in Connor Diocese seek to help in these situations – through the likes of Baby Basics ministries, support for local food banks and parishes which provide spaces for people to find warmth and a friendly face.

“But we also must be urging our political representatives, of whatever party, to knuckle down, take the difficult decisions and make political progress for the good of us all.”

He added: “I do not envy politicians their jobs and I believe that we should be encouraging them with our prayers rather than criticising or pulling them down, but we do need say clearly that this stalemate needs to end for the good of everyone.”

The Bishop paid tribute to the Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev Stephen Forde for the ‘meticulous planning’ he had done in preparation the Service of Reflection for our late Queen last September.

“It is tribute to his preparations, and to the hard work of Trevor Douglas and all the Cathedral staff, ably aided by Canon Kevin Graham and members of the Cathedral community, that Belfast Cathedral provided such a fitting setting for the Northern Irish service of commemoration of Her Late Majesty,” Bishop George said.

“I think that we can be immensely proud of the role played by many members of our diocese on this solemn, but important occasion in our national life. The ultimate compliment came from the lips of our new King as he left the cathedral at the end of the service and told me, that it had been ‘just perfect!’

Looking back to Connor Clergy Conference held in Co Cavan last November, the Bishop spoke about his hopes for ‘Growing Healthy Churches.’

“‘Growing Healthy Churches’ can serve a statement of both what we want to do and what we want to be in the diocese,” the Bishop said.

“We all know the challenges that we face… but the gospel of Jesus Christ is a message about new possibilities, about transformation, about new life, about hope. If we are being faithful to the call and commission of Jesus, then each of our parishes, our church communities, our spiritual families can and should be a ‘growing, healthy church’ by definition.

“We should be growing – in spiritual depth as we gather together and encourage on another in our walk with God, in our worship in our knowledge of God’s word and in our commitment to serve his kingdom. And we will be growing in numbers as we  reach out to others around us and invite them to come and share in the good news and the life of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.”

The Bishop spoke about new clergy appointments in the diocese and paid tribute to those who have retired since the last diocesan synod. He also outlined changes within the diocesan staff team, and the relocation of Church House, Belfast, from Donegall Street to temporary premises in the Titanic Quarter.

You can read Bishop George’s full Presidential Address HERE.



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