• 12 September 2021

James Cunningham is ordained deacon (OLM)

Congratulations to Revd James Cunningham who has been ordained deacon to serve as Ordained Local Minister for the Ulster Hospital Chaplaincy. 

James was ordained by Bishop David at a service in his home parish of Ballybeen on Sunday 12 September. The preacher was Revd Myrtle Morrison, Priest in Charge of St Saviour’s Craigavon and Chaplain to Craigavon Area Hospital. James’ chaplaincy colleagues also attended: Revd Don Gamble, Lead Chaplain in the South Eastern Trust, Vivienne Manley, Fr Henry McCann and Revd Ken Connor. 

James’ journey to ordination

On the first weekend of my Ministry Foundation Course at the Theological Institute, Canon Maurice Elliott mentioned Ordained Local Ministry, a new ministry stream which the Church of Ireland were introducing. It immediately struck a chord with me and now, five and a half years later, I am being ordained as an OLM deacon.

God has led me on this path to ordination and it has not been a straight road – certainly back in 2016 I had no inclination that I would be working in hospital chaplaincy. There have been many turns, but we serve a faithful God who is true to his word. I find great reassurance in Isaiah 55:8–9.

This past year of study via Zoom has been tricky but all involved have made the best of our situation. I have enjoyed the variety of subjects and, to my complete amazement, even had a patient engage me in a lengthy discussion on Church history!

My role as Church of Ireland chaplain in the Ulster hospital has proved to be both challenging and rewarding. I have loved hearing people’s stories as they have invited me to journey with them. I have the greatest privilege to be able to assure them of God’s love and of his promise to be with us always. The past year and a half have been particularly challenging, as we all know, and I can testify to the faithfulness of God – whatever our circumstances.   

In looking forward, I hope that my ordination helps to strengthen the relationship between the Church and the South Eastern Trust. In these times of extreme monetary pressures in the public sector, I find it really encouraging that we have the opportunity to support many on their spiritual journey with the One who created us and redeemed us.

To Him be the glory for ever and ever.