• 20 June 2024

Bishop David addresses Diocesan Synod

In his Presidential Address, delivered at Down and Dromore Diocesan Synod in St Mark’s Dundela on Thursday 20 June, Bishop David once more called the diocese to the task of making mature disciples, raising up leaders and initiating new ministries that reach the unreached.

“The gospel of God has lost none of its power,” he said, “and where the Church proclaims that gospel to people beyond our walls people are saved, healed, and delivered. I want to say again that every church, all 111 and all 10 church plants should put evangelism at the top of their agenda.”

Even if sharing the gospel in our culture is increasingly challenging, Bishop David urged parishes to use all the resources available to them – Alpha, Christianity Explored, Word One to One – and to advance with the good news rather than retreat.

The bishop also suggested that our parishes might come alongside another parish in the south of Ireland so that we could be strengthened together in our making of disciples, in our orthodoxy and in our call to mission. Our partner dioceses of Maridi, Multan and Santiago will help us as they model a commitment to fearless evangelism and church planting.

Before continuing, Bishop David suspended standing orders and invited the CEO of Fields of Life, Tony Gaston, to address Synod. As Tony came forward Bishop David announced that following the diocesan appeal, a total of £36,782.32 was raised from 63 parishes. This means that we will be able to purchase 100 bicycles and 10 motorbikes for the clergy and archdeacons in Maridi.

Tony Gaston’s presentation focused on the work of Fields of Life in Maridi. Look out on the diocesan website for details of how to partner with them in this part of South Sudan. 

Turning to leadership, Bishop David informed Synod that this year we have filled seven vacancies with a series of institutions pending. He also announced that the Permanent Commission and Diocesan Council had passed the appointment of any future ministry in the Parish of Ballymacarrett to him. In an exciting development, Holy Trinity Brompton will be partnering with the diocese to plant a resource church in St Patrick’s, an iconic city centre church. This new initiative will be moving ahead with speed over the coming months and will also incorporate St Martin’s.

Bishop David also announced that this autumn we will be recruiting for a new leadership strand, that of Diocesan Commissioned Bible Teachers – Diocesan Catechists. We will be resourcing the training and equipping of these men and women within the diocese. 

The bishop explained: “Catechists within Anglicanism have historically had this brief, so we are reopening this age–old well. These men and women will disciple new believers, prepare them for baptism, disciple young people and teach from the scriptures, making disciples of old and young who are strong and equipped.” They will compliment the work of our diocesan readers and clergy. 

Addressing the priority of apostleship, Bishop David turned to one of his predecessors, Bishop William Kerr, who launched a Bishops’ Church Building Fund as the diocese emerged out of the Second World War. His bold appeal – “It is a time for sacrifice and generous giving and hard work.” – resulted in the rebuilding of St Patrick’s Ballymacarrett, the building of St Brendan’s Sydenham and St John’s Orangefield, and what he described as temporary churches in Millisle, Carnalea and Stormont. Bishop Kerr also gave grants towards new church halls in twenty parishes.

Bishop David asserted that: “Our task today is that every parish would enthusiastically and joyfully embrace the privilege and responsibility of passing on the faith to the next generation in every parish, prioritising growth and partnering with others, in strengthening others, and also embracing all that leads to growth.”

The bishop went on to thank everyone in a leadership role in the diocese as well as the diocesan staff team. He finished by reminding Synod that as John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus’ first coming, we his Church are about the business of preparing a bride, a pure, holy, and beautiful bride for his return.

Mark 16:19–20

19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.

Download the full text of Bishop David’s address HERE.