Church of Ireland Bishops’ Appeal Launches Mother and Child Advent Appeal

The Church of Ireland Bishops’ Appeal for World Aid and Development has launched a Mother and Child Advent Appeal, which seeks to raise support for four initiatives in the following countries:

  • Nepal – Sundar Dhoka Saathi Sewa, which is being supported through CMS Ireland, provides emergency food to pregnant and lactating mothers whose access to harvests, work and food has been decimated due to the pandemic;
  • Cambodia – Tearfund Ireland’s work to provide children in crisis situations with emergency foster parents to give them a safe, secure home as an alternative to going into an orphanage;
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo – Christian Aid’s support for families who have fled conflict and are now living in overcrowded shelters, mostly without water or electricity; and
  • Sierra Leone – refurbishment of health clinics alongside support in communities and education for women and their partners who are expecting a baby.

Lydia Monds, Bishops’ Appeal’s Education Advisor, says: ‘This Advent, how apt that as Christians follow the story of a heavily pregnant young woman on an arduous journey, going into labour in an overcrowded town and giving birth next to animals, that Bishops’ Appeal would focus on expectant and young mothers today and the challenges that they are facing in keeping themselves and their children safe.  In such difficult times, we are grateful to those who are in a position to support this Mother and Child Appeal.’

Donations to the appeal can be made by visiting or by post to Church of Ireland Bishops’ Appeal (Mother & Child Appeal), Church of Ireland House, Church Avenue, Rathmines, Dublin 6.

In recent months, Bishops’ Appeal has also supported efforts to help communities in Lebanon as they recover from the explosion in Beirut’s port (Tearfund Ireland and Christian Aid); agricultural and forestry projects in Burkina Faso and Cameroon (Self Help Africa and Feed the Minds); support for education and girls’ health in six schools in Uganda (Fields of Life); vocational training for young adults who attend the Anglican Diocese of Egypt’s deaf centre in Cairo (CMS Ireland); increasing literacy and training women in business skills in Burundi (CMS Ireland and Mothers’ Union); and helping pea farmers in Malawi to access larger markets and strengthen their ability to sell their produce (Christian Aid).


Another Chance – “a vision borne into reality”

The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, told a congregation in Londonderry on Wednesday evening that some people were being affected far worse than others by the coronavirus pandemic and that, for some, the fear and anxiety had been overwhelming. He was speaking at a Service of Thanksgiving in Glendermott Parish Church to mark five years of witness and outreach by the parish’s Another Chance charity shop and outreach centre in Tullyally.

Earlier, the Rector of Glendermott and Newbuildings, Rev Canon Robert Boyd, welcomed Bishop Andrew and the socially-distanced congregation of around 50 people to the Service of Thanksgiving. The Rector said he was very proud of Another Chance’s achievements and extremely excited about its future plans. “It has been great,” Canon Boyd said, “that the parish has taken the lead in such a venture. Another Chance is not just about making money. We see it as a service to the community and I intend for it to stay that way.”

Canon Boyd said he enjoyed hearing from customers and volunteers about the difference Another Chance had made in their lives. “That’s what it’s all about,” he said, “making a difference in people’s lives.”

In his sermon, Bishop Andrew described Another Chance as a vision that had been borne into reality. “You had the seed of a vision here, in that year of opportunity in the diocese, the seed of a vision for how we could reach out into the community, how we could be church in a different way, and you weren’t content just to leave it with the seed of a vision, you wanted to see the reality – and there the reality is in all its splendour. And floods wouldn’t put you off, floods wouldn’t knock you off course; you got back, and you got going again and I honour you for that.”

The Bishop praised the volunteers in Another Chance for the way in which they had responded to the 2017 flood – which had brought devastation to the local community – and, more recently, to the coronavirus crisis. “People say we’re all in the same boat, at the moment,” Bishop Andrew said. “I don’t think we are in the same boat. I think we’re all in the same storm but we’re not all in the same boat. We’re in very different boats, actually.”

For some it was like being in an ocean liner, he said. We just keep on going. We’ve been able to look after ourselves. It doesn’t affect our income. Everything’s been okay. For others – worrying about jobs, and finances, and health – it was like being in a rowing boat. Nobody wants to be in a rowing boat in the middle of a storm, because you’re going to feel every wave and all the fear that that storm brings.

“And yet for others in this storm, it’s as if they’ve just about been hanging on to a little bit of driftwood, and fear and uncertainly has felt overwhelming at times – the storm has been so strong. I don’t know what boat you’re in in this storm, but what I do know is that we follow a God who specialises in calming storms – that’s what we read about in scripture – and tonight, whether it’s been in the coronavirus or the five years before that, tonight I want to honour you as a parish, honour all of you as volunteers for how you have been the hands, the feet, the eyes, the ears of God as you’ve sought to calm the storms in people’s lives through Another Chance.”

Bishop Andrew felt that – “really significant” as the past five years had been – it was only the beginning for Another Chance. “Do you know, Another Chance is an inspired name, isn’t it, because we can use it in all sorts of ways? But the thing that I delight in, tonight, is that our God is the God of another chance: whenever we get it wrong, whenever we mess up, whenever we feel useless at times – God is the God of another chance.”

The Bishop’s hopes for the future look set to be realised. During the prayers of thanksgiving, the coordinator of Another Chance, Joanne Miller, revealed that the outreach centre had plans to develop a men’s shed and support hub, including a social supermarket, employment training and other initiatives.

Lessons learned are lessons shared for St Canice’s fundraising parishioners

St Canice’s Church in Eglinton has produced a new book celebrating some of the things which have helped get people through lockdown. On Wednesday afternoon, its Rector, Rev Canon Paul Hoey, presented a copy of ‘Seasons of Blessing – Lessons from Lockdown’, to Bishop Andrew Forster, who had written an introduction to the book and contributed a short piece, extolling the benefits he got from his daily walks with the dog.
Bishop Andrew was visibly impressed by the book. ‘Seasons of Blessing’ is a varied feast, including reflections and verses from scripture, observations by parishioners and members of the wider community, poems, recipes, cartoons and photographs. “Some items will make you laugh,” Canon Hoey writes in the preface, “some will inspire you to try something new, and some will invite you just to sit and be still and to know that, whatever you face, you are never alone.”
The book has been produced to raise funds for the St Canice’s Hall Restoration Appeal, which aims to replace the hall destroyed in the August 2017 flood. Copies cost £7 each and are available from St Canice’s Church – email or ring the Rector on 07712 873322.

Bishop to Address Diocesan Synod Members Virtually

Bishop Andrew has expressed his disappointment that the 2020 Diocesan Synod has been unable to proceed as scheduled, this year, because of the pandemic but assured members that his first Presidential Address would be made available online in the near future.

Today – Wednesday 25th November – was earmarked for the annual gathering of clergy and parishioners after the original and traditional October date fell by the wayside. Now, even the revised date has fallen victim to COVID, meaning that this year’s Synod business will, for the most part, be completed online.

“I’m saddened that we can’t meet in person, this year,” Bishop Andrew said today. “This was to have been my first Diocesan Synod as Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, and I had been looking forward so much to meeting people face-to-face and leading the Service of Holy Communion – I’d even been looking forward to delivering my first Presidential Address.

“Unfortunately, that won’t now be happening in the way we had hoped, but – despite the pandemic – the life of the Church continues, God’s work goes on, and the wheels of bureaucracy must keep on rolling.

“Synod business is being completed electronically. The Books of Reports will be sent out before Christmas; our triennial elections will be taking place electronically, on an online election platform; and I will be sharing my Presidential Address online, in the very near future.

“Sadly, this disruption to Synod is one of the prices we must pay for defeating the Coronavirus,” Bishop Andrew said. “While it’s not ideal, it’s a small sacrifice compared to that made by so many people – those who’ve buried loved ones in harrowing circumstances; those who’ve had to keep away from family (especially older, more vulnerable relatives); those who’ve been working at the frontline in our hospitals and care homes; our emergency services; our key-workers; and people in retail.

“God willing, we’ll be back to normal next year when I hope we’ll be able to look back on 2020 as something of an aberration.

“In the meantime, observe social distancing but stay close to God; keep safe; listen to the doctors and scientists; observe the guidelines; let’s do our bit to beat the virus.”

Death of Canon Mayes

The death has taken place of Rev Canon John Mayes, the hugely popular former Rector of All Saints Clooney and, previously, Rector of Kilrea and Aghadowey.

Canon Mayes, who was 76, died peacefully on Sunday at his home in Londonderry’s Waterside. He is survived by his wife Alison and children Rory, Victoria and Aonghus.

Canon Mayes was appointed a Canon of Derry in 1992 and served for a time as Bishop’s Secretary for Inter Church Affairs and as Rural Dean of Derry,

There will be a private Service of Thanksgiving in St Columb’s Cathedral for Canon Mayes’ life, with burial afterwards in Kilrea Parish Churchyard. Attendance at the funeral will be restricted because of COVID-19 regulations.

Family flowers only; donations in lieu, if desired, to St Columb’s Cathedral Restoration Fund, c/o Very Rev. Raymond Stewart, The Rectory, 30 Bishop’s Street, Londonderry, BT48 6PP or Foyle Hospice, c/o Mrs Ruth Hay, Funeral Director, 24a Church Road, Altnagelvin, Londonderry BT47 3QQ.


Bishop launches new diocesan prayer booklet for the COVID era

The Diocese of Derry and Raphoe has produced a new prayer booklet, ‘Hope in the Pandemic’, to encourage parishioners during the COVID-19 crisis. The pocket-sized resource is printed on recycled paper and is meant to comfort people and help them pray through what the booklet’s foreword describes as “one of the most challenging times of the modern era”.

“The darker nights are in some way a metaphor for the added anxiety and fear that many are experiencing,” Bishop Andrew Forster writes. “As people of faith we believe that ‘the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it’ (John1:5). I hope that you find these prayers and scripture readings helpful. Let us show our people at this time of great trial that we are people of faith, not fear.”

The new booklet includes prayers for those bereaved by the virus and those who are ill or suffering because of it; there are prayers for those in hospitals and nursing homes, for doctors and nurses, for family and friends, and prayers for peace of mind.

“I hope that this little booklet will become something that you can keep – either in your handbag or in your pocket or at home – and turn to and use,” Bishop Andrew said, “knowing that God has a role for you within this pandemic, to make things better because of your prayers.”

‘Hope in the Pandemic’ will be available from local parishes and from the Diocesan Office.



Elbow bump greets new Rector of Balteagh Group at institution in Christ Church Limavady

“If there’s ever a time that the Church needs prayer, and spiritual leaders need prayer, it’s now,” Rev David McBeth told the congregation in Christ Church, Limavady on Wednesday evening, at the Institution of his friend and colleague, Rev Rhys Jones, as Rector of Aghanloo, Balteagh, Carrick and Tamlaghtard.

Rev McBeth, who had been the new incumbent’s Rector at All Saints, Clooney in Londonderry for the last three years, had been invited by Bishop Andrew Forster to preach the sermon.

As is common, nowadays, the service went ahead under strict conditions imposed to limit the spread of the COVID virus. The attendance – which included Rev Jones’s wife, Samantha, and their children – was restricted to fewer than 80 people. Worshippers’ contact details were collected as they arrived at Christ Church; they were urged to use hand sanitiser as they entered the church; once inside they wore masks and sat in alternate pews, observing social distancing.

“Pray for the Church at this difficult time,” the preacher said, as he urged parishioners to support their new Rector. “For you the people of Balteagh and Carrick, Tamlaghtard and Ahanloo, show your leader mercy. Support him through this difficult time, until we get the churches up and running again.”

Rev McBeth told the congregation that it was never their choice that Rev Rhys had joined them as their new leader. “[It was] Never your choice,” he said. “You might have taken part in the process but that was God’s choice. Remember that.”

Wednesday’s Institution was led by Bishop Andrew, who was assisted by the Archdeacon of Derry, Ven. Robert Miller; the Rural Dean, Rev Canon Harold Given (who organised the Service); and the Diocesan Registrar, Rev Canon David Crooks.

Bishop Andrew thanked the Rector of Drumachose, Rev Canon Sam McVeigh, and the Select Vestry for allowing Christ Church to be used for the Service. He welcomed the congregation – whether they came from the new incumbent’s grouped parishes, from the wider community or other Churches.

The Bishop said the refreshments in the church hall which were customary on such occasions, were being dispensed with because of the risk of spreading the coronavirus. The virus also put paid to the traditional handshake, to mark the institution of the new incumbent, with the Bishop and Rev Jones instead performing an elbow bump.

Capture ‘Anything but Covid’ in the CCB’s Photography Competition

The Church of Ireland’s Central Communications Board (CCB) is inviting members of the Church to enter a photography competition with the theme of ‘Anything but Covid’. This year, in a change to the annual communications competition (which traditionally focuses on print and online media), selected entries to this special photography competition win a prize and be featured on the Church of Ireland’s website (<>) and social media platforms.

The competition, which is kindly being sponsored by Ecclesiastical Insurance, calls for photographers of all ages and experience to take part.  The idea is to focus on humorous, hopeful or generally uplifting subjects, including people and places, which help to take our view away from the current pandemic, and change our perspective positively.

Bishop Pat Storey, the Chair of the CCB, says: ‘It is a delight to launch this photography competition to welcome a bit of light in the darkness. It would be great to have photographs submitted that simply make people smile. As we wait for the world to heal we take joy in the creativity of playful photographers all over this island. Good luck!’

Each entrant to the competition may submit one image which should be submitted via email to<> along with the entrant’s name, full contact details, and parish. Images must be jpegs, and at least 300 dpi in resolution and 3 MB in size but strictly not over 4 MB, and be submitted with the date on which the photograph was taken. The deadline for entries will be 12 noon on Monday, 14th December 2020.  Judging will be undertaken independently of the CCB and prizes will be announced in advance of the Christmas holidays.

New calling beckons for Dean of Raphoe

The Dean of Raphoe, Very Reverend Arthur Barrett, is to leave the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe early in the new year to take up a new appointment as Rector of the Arklow, Inch and Kilbride Group of Parishes in the Diocese of Glendalough. The news was announced to parishioners in the Raphoe Group after this afternoon’s Service of Morning Prayer from Clonleigh Parish Church in Lifford.
Commenting on his appointment, Dean Arthur said, “I am humbled and honoured to have been appointed to the Arklow, Inch and Kilbride Group of Parishes. Brigid and I are excited by the opportunity to serve in this new phase of ministry. While leaving the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe, and the Raphoe Group of Parishes will be difficult, we are greatly looking forward to serving and working with the people in Arklow, Inch and Kilbride, as we seek to discern God’s will for these parishes in south Wicklow and North Wexford.”
After ordination, Dean Arthur served as Incumbent in parishes in Dublin, Sligo and Enniskillen, before being instituted as Dean of Raphoe Cathedral in 2014. Two years ago, he launched an ambitious project to restore the cathedral, as a result of which a new roof was built recently.
“Having to break this news to you in this manner – looking into a camera and in an empty church – is by no means ideal, and certainly not the way that I would have wanted to be able to do it,” Dean Arthur told parishioners watching the service online, “but unfortunately, such are the times that we are living in.”
He asked parishioners in both the Raphoe and Arklow Groups of Parishes to hold the Barrett family in their prayers – “as we will be praying for them” – as they all entered a new time of transition and challenge.
The new appointment will take effect in mid-January, 2021 and the Dean’s ministry as Dean of Raphoe and Rector of the Raphoe Group of Parishes will conclude on Sunday 27th December.

£3.3million Voluntary, Community and Social Economy Sector COVID Recovery Fund launched

£3.3million Voluntary, Community and Social Economy Sector COVID Recovery Fund launched

The Communities Minister for Northern Ireland, Carál Ní Chuilín, has launched the £3.3million Voluntary, Community and Social Economy Sector (VCSE) COVID Recovery Fund, to help organisations with the extra costs of returning to premises and to safely deliver services. It will assist with things like PPE and moving services online.

Groups can apply for awards of up to £5,000 for both past expenditure and future needs. The new fund will be administered by Co-operation Ireland in partnership with the Rural Community Network. It is open for applications between 12 November and 11 December 2020 (4.00 p.m.)

Further information is available on the NICVA Website

Guidance notes and to make an application go to Co-operation Ireland website