Special service to celebrate Church of Ireland-Moravian relationship

Monday March 11th 2024

A special service on March 18, starting in St Patrick’s, Ballymena, and continuing in Gracehill Moravian Church, will celebrate the relationship between the Church of Ireland and the Moravian Church in Britain and Ireland.

In recent years, the two churches have been developing this closer formal relationship which will allow for clergy from both denominations to serve in either. 

Archbishop John McDowell will preach in St Patrick’s, with Bishop Sarah Groves from the Moravian Church leading participants sharing in Holy Communion in Gracehill. 

Trees will be planted in the grounds of each place of worship to mark this celebration, and a reception at Gracehill will follow.

Bishop Sarah expressed her joy at what had become known as the ‘Armagh Agreement’ between the two Churches. She said that she was sure this would ‘bring increased vitality to both denominations enriching their worship and enabling them to share the resources of people, faith and service.’

Bishop Michael Burrows.

Bishop Michael Burrows, who chairs the Church of Ireland’s Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue, said: “The Moravian Church and the Church of Ireland have so much in common and so many spiritual riches to share with one another. 

“We both cherish the ministry of Word and Sacrament, and a similar commitment to the place of the historic episcopate. We have shared a joyful journey towards the achievement of interchangeable ministry between us, and I’m thrilled that this new stage in our relationship will be marked by a highly imaginative liturgical celebration in Ballymena and Gracehill on 18th March.”

The service on March 18 begins in St Patrick’s Parish Church, Ballymena, at 1.30pm and continues in Gracehill Moravian Church at 3.30pm.

Bishop Sarah Groves from the Moravian Church in the video celebrating the relationship with the Church of Ireland (above).

  • The Moravian Church, originally called the Unity of the Brethren, was first organised as a communion in Kunvald, near the modern town of Zamberk, in what is now Czechia (the Czech Republic). Although formally established in 1457, its origins reach back some 50 years earlier to the Czech Reformation. Merging into the Protestant movement that grew out of the Lutheran Reformation, the Moravian Church today is currently comprised of 24 linked provinces worldwide.  The presence of the Moravian Church in Ireland is due mainly to the influence of the English evangelist John Cennick, who was active in these isles between 1746 and 1755. The Irish District of the British Province currently has five congregations.

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