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The Dean Writes:
Dear Parishioners and Friends around the world,
This is an extract of my address to the Easter General Vestry, held recently. It is, of course aimed primarily at our own
church members, but there are some points that are perhaps relevant wherever you live in the world:
I sometimes wonder if there is anything new to say but it is good to look back over the past year and to give thanks to Almighty God for His faithfulness, love, and blessing upon us as a congregation. As always at this meeting I want to thank people for their work during this past year. I want to remind us all that each one of us is valued, important and essential to the life and ministry of this parish. I hope you believe that your contribution is as important as anyone who leads from the front or leads an organisation. Without all of you the work of the kingdom of God would not be advanced in this parish or in this community.
Thanks be to God we have had a year of much activity and growth, and perhaps another one of the continuing challenges is to find ways of engaging our newer parishioners fully in the life and witness of the parish. It was very encouraging to welcome new families but we need more integration and social engagement. To that end we have made some advances. We have a vision of a growing, flourishing church in Enniskillen. To help us with that vision we want to equip our parishioners. In particular I would like to promote ‘Pilgrim’ as a teaching and discipleship resource. It aims to help the local church to create a place where people can explore the Christian faith together and see how it can be lived out each day. Pilgrim takes a different approach to other Christian programmes. It approaches the great issues of faith not through persuasion, but by participation in a pattern of contemplation and discussion with a group of fellow travellers!
As well as Pilgrim we have at present many successful ventures – Sunday Lights/Sunday Lights Café, Mothers’ Union, Mens’ LIFE, Messy Church, Xplore for our Confirmation Class and above, Youth Club, uniformed organisations, Tuesday Club and Bowling Club. There is something for everyone – do lend your support and encourage others to get involved. We all need to be actively involved in parish life and if we do not care, we will find ourselves growing cold and indifferent in our relationship with God and with others.
Following the example of our Lord and Saviour, the Christian life necessarily involves service, and in order for this parish to continue to serve the needs of our own parishioners and the wider community, all who consider themselves parishioners must in turn be willing to serve in whatever capacity they can. An increased team effort in running our various events will also have the positive effect of building up our sense of community, and serve as a means of getting to know each other better – a task which can be challenging in a busy parish such as this. As a Christian community, I believe we must strive to provide ‘cradle to grave ministry’, and there are identifiable gaps in this ministry at present. New initiatives such as the Men’s LIFE Group which started this year, and the Mother and Baby classes are attempts to fill in these gaps, and I am always open to new suggestions as to how to fill in others. The Sunday morning crèche needs some extra attention/leadership, however I am really pleased that eighteen teenagers are now attending Xplore. Sadly, the most obvious gap in the ministry of the parish continues to be to our young adults, and I would particularly welcome assistance in trying to rectify this situation.
As a Christian community, faith development and spirituality must remain a priority, and while the success of such ventures can never be measured by the numbers attending, I do issue a challenge to those of you who have never attended any of these to give even one of them a try – you might well be surprised by what God has in store for you!
The same can be said about our services, whether on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings or Thursday mornings – and so I issue a similar challenge to those of you who might not be regular attendees: gathering together in the Lord’s House and around His Table is the platform from which springs all our other activities and ministries.
In this our 396th anniversary year, we have much to give thanks for. We have also much to look forward to and we want to make a special effort to do everything in our power to make the 400th anniversary of this parish a year for all to remember in parish, town and community. Planning for that will have to begin soon, however in the meantime let us now use both the Cathedral and our new Cathedral Halls to the full extent, with every means possible, with every imaginative idea and in so doing continue and fulfil ‘Our Vision’ of Saint Macartin’s at the heart of the Community – Strengthening Commitment, Outreach, Worship and Christian Love.
I conclude by thanking you all for your ongoing support, friendship and prayers. I thank God that He has seen fit to bring me to this wonderful parish, and pray that all of us together may build up His Kingdom in this place, to the honour and glory of His name.