Synod of the Church of Ireland: Education, Racism, Youth Activities



CANON Harry Gilmore (Derry & Raphoe) brought encouraging news to the Synod for small primary schools when he presented the Board of Education report. Despite the support of the Ministry of Education, there had nevertheless been a desire to close many schools with four or fewer teachers, he told the Synod.

“These schools are often the backbone of our parishes in the Republic,” he said. “I’m not describing the notion of larger schools at all, but I just want to say that smaller schools are often very important in the local parish and community.

“A new initiative has just been launched – the Small Schools Initiative – and we, the Protestant community, had the opportunity to participate in the two-year project in Donegal. We start anytime now.

In what will likely be called the Columba Project, four denominational schools from a group in the northwestern county – Dunfanaghy, Creeslough, Ballymore and Gartan – will receive a coordinator for two years to help them train. ways in which administration can be shared and they can be helped to function better.

The project was well supported and the Ministry of Education “actually got a budget for it; so once they put the money on the table, you know they’re serious, ”Canon Gilmore said. “We hope that all we learn from [this initiative] could be of use to other small schools in the years to come.

Supporting the report, Reverend Catherine Simpson (Down & Dromore) paid tribute to the “dedication, tenacity and determination” of all schools during an unprecedented and difficult time. “The Education Council [Northern Ireland] continues to have representatives at all levels of education, and we continue to defend the influence of the Christian faith on education, ”she said. “There is a larger movement in society to call for the minimization of Christian influence, and indeed there are many who wish to remove the influence of churches in schools.

“The Board of Trustees is working tirelessly to combat this and calls for your support to protect the Christian ethics of supervised schools in Northern Ireland and in so doing ensure quality education for all.”

Bishop of ClogherDr Ian Ellis reminded Synod members of the Church’s direct influence on education and, in a call for more governors for controlled high schools, describing the responsibility of serving on a school board as “more important than simply fulfilling a right and sitting in the seat. “

Racism, injustice and gender-based violence

The Archdeacon of Cork, Cloyne & Ross, Ven. Adrian Wilkinson, drew particular attention in his Standing Committee report to the statement on racism and injustice in the Church and Society Commission (CCAC) report: “Hidden history lies behind statues and monuments , some of which are in churches.

The scourge of racism was “always with us,” he told the Synod. “I’m sure we can all think of elaborate memorials, built to extol the virtues of the great, the good and the rich of past generations.

“However, today we might recognize that for some of these people their fortune or status was based in part on the contribution, if not the suffering, of many other anonymous people. We cannot change history, even if it is constantly rewritten, as new evidence, heightened awareness and a changed context offer new perspectives.

“We would not want to demolish the Georgian mansions of the aristocracy, but where the wealth to finance these impressive buildings came from slavery in the sugar cane plantations or from child labor in the coal mines, the documentation of the tourist guide and audiovisual presentations can become powerful educational vectors on such a turbulent past.

Likewise, when these memorials exist in our churches, they should be used to highlight issues of slavery, exploitation and injustice, and our Christian response to this lingering problem in the world of today.

Violence against women and girls and gender justice were also at the center of the CASSC report, which partnered with the Union of Mothers (MU) on the issue. june butler (Down & Dromore), president of MU All Ireland, described domestic violence as the most insidious crime in Ireland today:

She highlighted the many opportunities for activism: the ongoing World Council of Churches protest in black Thursday; UM’s Global Day of Activism on November 27; and UN Women’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which runs from November 25 to December 10.

Jacqui Armstrong (Derry), who heads gender justice for the MU, said domestic violence existed in all groups in Irish society. The Church was not immune, but churches rarely denounced domestic violence. “We have the opportunity to change history. We are challenged by our faith to challenge unjust structures, ”she said.

Bishop of Limerick and KillaloeRt Revd Kenneth Kearon said: “Gender is not about women. It is mainly a problem for men. Men should support these protest actions and show their position. “

A retired general practitioner, Scott Brown (Connor), said by the time the women appeared in a doctor’s office, they were already out of breath. “A patriarchal and conservative Church wishes to cover up all these shameful acts,” he said, urging the Church to recognize it.


YOUNG PEOPLE were to be “reintroduced, reintegrated and reinvigorated” as youth activities continued to reopen, said Bishop of Meath & Kildare, The Very Reverend Pat Storey, who has a place in history as the first female bishop in Ireland and the United Kingdom (News, September 13, 2020).

The past 18 months have been particularly difficult for young people, she said. “They felt isolated without the company of their friends, deprived of their early college years and deprived of the community of their churches and youth groups.

“As chairman of the youth department, I have also witnessed the isolation and powerlessness of staff, diocesan youth leaders and volunteer youth leaders across the island. The Youth Ministry, due to government regulations, was effectively shut down. While we all found the pandemic difficult, some young people found it unbearable, and we are going to have to deal with residual mental health issues for years to come. “

But the staff and youth workers had persevered, reinvented the way they communicated with their young people and had gone virtual, she said. This had left them in need of rest and recovery, but they had been exemplary in their ministry to young people in difficult circumstances: “It did not go unnoticed and it is not taken for granted”, a- she declared. “Young people will remember you kept the youth flag practically flying. “

The bishop drew attention to a new resource, A welcoming church, which discussed ways in which youth ministry could include those with special challenges, “including the anxious, the hearing or visually impaired, those with limited mobility, those with chronic pain, dyslexia and many more. ‘others. The pack gives us tips on how to be more inclusive with those who don’t fit into our often thoughtless routines.


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