Connor Council for Mission seeks to deepen a sense of mission throughout all parishes within the diocese. To assist people wanting to be more involved in mission both at home and overseas the Council launched the Connor Mission Support Fund in 2008.
Applications to the Mission Support Fund, which can be made on an annual basis, are welcome from any individual who seeks to become actively involved in mission either in Ireland or around the world. Applicants must be able to demonstrate active membership of the Church of Ireland and belong to a parish within the Diocese of Connor.
The Venerable Paul Dundas, Archdeacon of Dalriada and Chair of Connor Council for Mission, submitted the following report to the 2023 Connor Diocesan Synod.
The small group set up by Diocesan Council to look at the role of the Council for Mission met online several times. A big question that we have wrestled with is the word ‘mission’ in a world that is changing vastly as we have received and welcomed Bishops and their wives in August 2022 as well as our society welcoming people from other nations.
Many have been unable to travel on short term mission projects until early 2023. We recognise many partnerships that parishes and individuals have with mission agencies, dioceses and individuals throughout God’s world.
Alongside this, we recognise that parishes have been outward looking into their community in a missional way to newcomers and through working with local groups or agencies. The Council for Mission is often viewed as having the global perspective without any reference to the local context, but we acknowledge the amazing missional work that is both local and global and we need to hear more of these stories of partnership and transformation because of the Gospel.
We were delighted that as part of ‘Kingdom Voices’ organised by CMSI & SAMS Ireland, parishes in the diocese received a number of Bishops and their wives, including Agherton; Christ Church, Lisburn; Mossley and Lisburn Cathedral. Bishop George, clergy and lay people from parishes in the Diocese gathered for a leaders’ day on the Wednesday in St Donard’s, Belfast, where we listened to global partners and then on Friday night at St Anne’s Cathedral for a celebration evening. Do check out the reports from these two significant engagements with church leaders through the websites of SAMS and CMSI. It has been encouraging since then to hear of new partnerships developing at parish level in the Diocese. We pray for godly wisdom as we explore potential new partnerships as a Diocese with the church in Africa and South America.
Connor Diocese is now represented on the General Synod Council for Mission by Jill Lester from Lisburn Cathedral.
The Mission Support Fund released funds to allow Bishop Levi and Mama Agnes to travel here for Kingdom Voices. We released funds for projects that Bishop Levi has advocated, namely the training of clergy and a coffee project for income generation. We supported the meal that all the bishops and their wives had in St Anne’s Cathedral before the key celebration evening. The Fund supported the 13 parishioners from Christ Church Lisburn who travelled to St Apollo school and the Diocese of Luwero in February 2023.
We also supported Julie Brown from Ahoghill parish and her ministry through Acadia Path with those who have come to live here.
Read more about the visit by a team from Christ Church, Lisburn, who to St Apollo School, Diocese of Luwero HERE.
The partnership between Yei Diocese in South Sudan and Connor Diocese, which had been in existence in 2007, formally ended in June 2023.
Over the years, many teams and individuals visited Yei, funds were raised for education (building of a new school in Mongo Village; teacher training) and Bishop Hilary, who retired early in 2021 was a guest and spoke at parishes in Connor Diocese on several occasions. Permanent friendships have been forged and these links will continue.
A 2022 harvest appeal in Agherton Parish, for example, raised £9,000 and this will be used to bring a priest from Yei to Agherton where they will be upskilled in business management, and will return to Yei with two years of salary to run the diocese’s new coffee growing project.
You can download our Connor Connections feature on the visit of a team from Connor Diocese to Yei in 2013, or watch the video below to get a flavour of life in Yei Diocese at that time.
In August 2022 Bishop Levi Marandulu, new Bishop of Yei, and his wife Mama Agnes spent a week in Connor Diocese, having come to the UK and Ireland as part of the CMSI / SAMS Kingdom Voices event referred to by Archdeacon Dundas in his Council for Mission report.
During this time, Bishop Levi was interviewed for our diocesan magazine, Connor Connections. You can download the interview.
Earlier in 2023, Connor Council for Mission designated a gift for Yei Diocese and Archdeacon Dundas presented a cheque for £1,750 to CMS Ireland. The gift for Yei was transferred for Bishop Levi’s two priority programmes – coffee planting for financial sustainability of the diocese, and clergy training for spiritual growth of the diocese. These are referred to by the Bishop in the Connor Connections article.
During the summer of 2023, the Rev Jonny Campbell-Smyth, rector of Ballynure and Ballyeaston in Ballyclare, travelled to a slum in Nairobi to see first-hand the work being carried out by partners there. A Ballyclare Exodus team also travelled during the summer to do mission work inTarragona, Spain. Reports of these visits will appear in the autumn issue of Connor Connections, and will also be available online.