• 23 June 2022

Diocesan Synod meets in person

The Down and Dromore Diocesan Synod met in person on 23 June for the first time since the Rt Revd David McClay became bishop in January 2020.

Synod members gathered in the Jethro Centre, Lurgan, which also played host to the service of Holy Communion. We were delighted to welcome the Minister of Windsor Presbyterian Church, Revd Ivan Steen, as our visiting preacher.

In 2021 Bishop David called the diocese to the work of Discipleship, Leadership and Apostleship and this year in his Presidential Address he reiterated that call and his ten–year vision for the diocese.

“It is very appropriate that we are meeting in this building,” he said. “The story of Jethro, Moses’ father–in–law is significant. It speaks to us clearly of our three diocesan priorities – priorities more vital than ever to the health of our parishes as we put Covid–19 behind us.

“We see the making of a disciple through Moses making clear to Jethro God’s saving work among his people. This message led Jethro to embrace for himself God’s saving grace and truth and expresses his commitment to God boldly and clearly.

“The story of Jethro also highlights our second priority as a diocese – leadership.He makes clear the high priority that must be placed upon recognising, recruiting and releasing others around us into leadership.”

Moses also reflects an apostolic ministry in that he will lead the people forward in ways with which they had become unfamiliar during their years in Egypt.

“It’s time for the church to now move forward in hope, full of faith, believing and knowing that God is able. It’s His church and He wants His church to thrive.”

Bishop David’s address was full of challenge, but he also pointed Synod towards the wide variety of resources that the diocese has in place to help parishes minister effectively. These include the diocesan staff team (recently joined by Josh Thornbury and Millie Bellew), leadership training opportunities, courses and new literature.

The bishop also shared encouragements including:

  • On 29 June seven new Lay Readers will be commissioned. This will bring our total number of Diocesan Lay Readers to 70 and 14 emeritus readers, some of whom remain very active.
  • We now have in total 18 Diocesan Evangelists or evangelists in training.
  • We now employ 28 paid youth workers and children’s workers. This is more youth and children’s workers than this time last year.
  • Thirteen people have just completed an accredited pastoral care course bringing the total in our diocese to 81 in the past five years.
  • We have secured £106K outside funding over three years towards a Ministry Apprentice programme and will begin to recruit soon.

Bishop David highlighted some upcoming initiatives such as an autumn training course for bible study group leaders; the Generosity Course on video, a September Gift Day for the Diocesan Rejuvenation Fund and plans to plant at least one new diocesan outreach initiative to reach out to and care for refugees.  

As he concluded, Bishop David said: “Nothing stands still, and these apostolic opportunities will continue to emerge over the next 10 years in our broken world that needs faithful Gospel church led by faithful Gospel people empowered by God the Holy Spirit.”

Download Bishop David’s Presidential Address in full HERE. (PDF)

During the afternoon business session Standing Orders were suspended and Synod heard three presentations:

Revd Ivan Steen spoke about supporting refugees; Rebekah Fozzard brought us up to date on MindMatters, the Church of Ireland’s Mental Health Initiative; and Revd Stephen McElhinney (SAMS) presented on the post–Lambeth Kingdom Voices events in August which are being co–hosted with CMSI.