Bishop’s Presidential Address, Connor Synod 2024

Thursday June 13th 2024

Bishop George Davison delivers his Presidentail Address at Connor Synod 2024.

In his Presidential Address, delivered to clergy and lay members gathered at Connor Diocesan Synod in Christ Church, Lisburn, on Thursday June 13, the Bishop of Connor said the meeting served as a reminder that those present are part of something bigger.

“We are part of a diocese, which in turn is part of a national church, which is part of a fellowship of Christians which reaches right around the world,” Bishop George Davison said.

“Whilst our principal focus in our Christian lives is rightly the community where we live, it is important that we recognise our place in the wider work that God is doing in his world; important too that we take time to consider how we work together and encourage one another in the joys and the challenges of serving Christ in His world today.”

He said ‘Growing Healthy Churches’ – the Connor Diocesan strapline he introduced last year – was not so much a program of activity but an ethos to undergird all that is done.

Reflecting on ‘Growing Healthy Churches,’ the Bishop spoke of the work of the diocesan staff to help parishes, both in growing ministry and in working through the requirements of compliance with the various aspects of administrative good practice and legal requirements.

He spoke about the sale of the ‘costly’ Diocesan Offices in Donegall Street and the move to a temporary home in the Titanic Quarter. “Discussions are under way about what our next steps will be when our lease on Old Channel Road concludes in the summer of 2026,” Bishop George said. “In all of these discussions, value for money and working within our means are significant factors in our thinking.”

He spoke about the challenges of changing patterns of life and ministry, referring particularly to the Archdeaconry of Belfast, and said the Rev James Boyd was to be Pioneer Ministry co-ordinator for the Diocese. The South Lisburn Church plant in the Hillhall estate has been approved for central church funding, the Bishop said, adding that the Rev Pete Meenagh would be undertaking the training program for Pioneer Ministers beginning in September.

Speaking about vocations, Bishop George said: “We have been blessed in recent years to have had the Rev Kevin Graham as our Diocesan Director of Ordinands. Kevin has undertaken that role diligently and has played a huge part in supporting a number of people through the process of discerning a call to ordination. During his time as DDO he has worked alongside our Warden of Readers, the Rev Peter Jones, to create a co-ordinated approach to vocations to ordained and lay ministry and overseen the change from a more traditional ‘Fellowship of Vocation’ to the ‘Discerning Ministry Connor’ group.”

The Bishop said Kevin had recently retired from the role of DDO and thanked him for all he has done.

“As I think about a new appointment as DDO and recognising the broadening range of vocational roles (OLM, Pioneer) in the Church of Ireland, I am taking time to reflect further on the whole area of vocational call. I will shortly announce the format of the team of people who might help us build on the excellent foundations already laid,” the Bishop said.

He spoke about clergy who have retired, those who have moved on, and those who have recently been appointed to the diocese.

He paid particular tribute to Canon William Taggart for all that he has given to the people of St Katharine’s over ‘a lifetime of service’ to them. “There have been challenging times and circumstances over the years, but William showed faithfulness, commitment and pastoral devotion to his people in good times and in bad and for that they and we are immensely grateful,” Bishop George said.

Concluding with some words of thanks, the Bishop paid tribute to Dean John Bond, Diocesan Curate, and the team of retired clergy and lay readers who assist him in providing regular Sunday worship in vacant parishes and often at short notice when sickness strikes; his three Archdeacons and his diocesan staff.

“Whatever your role in ministry in Connor Diocese from the smallest parish to the largest cathedral, whether you wear a collar or exercise your ministry with a sweeping brush, it’s my prayer that you will know the value that we place on what you do and pray too that you will know the equipping of God’s Spirit as we serve him together in this diocese,” Bishop George said.

Bishop George Davison’s Presidential Address in full

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