‘Our parishes can provide refuge’

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The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe Ken Good has called on the Governments, north and south, to get their acts together on the Syrian refugee crisis, saying the Church of Ireland’s network of 450 parishes is “in a position to offer on-the-ground welcome and support to refugee families” right now.

The Bishop made the comments in his Presidential address to the Derry and Raphoe Diocesan Synod at An Grianán Hotel, Burt, on Tuesday, October 20.

“Frustration’s been expressed at the time it’s taking governments to devise a coherent plan to deal effectively with this crisis. It is, of course, essential that they plan and decide carefully, but equally there is an urgency to this crisis, especially with winter approaching,” he said.

“The Church of Ireland, with its network of 450 parishes spread right across this island, is in a position to offer on-the-ground welcome and support to refugee families.

“The Church of Ireland has already written to governments in both jurisdictions on this island indicating our willingness engage with plans to support refugees coming to Ireland. For our part, the parishes of the Derry and Raphoe Dioceses, I feel sure, will be eager to be part of any solution,” he added.

“The refugee crisis clearly poses an enormous challenge, but it also offers the churches – and others – a remarkable opportunity for generosity, for hospitality and for compassion. As Christians, we should embrace this opportunity,” said the Bishop.

Elsewhere in his address the Bishop announced 2016 has been designated a ‘Year of Opportunity’ by the Church of Ireland and would be a chance for parishioners and clergy to tackle a number of major challenges head on.

Dwindling, ageing and cash-strapped parishes are challenges that can be addressed, he said.

“We’re focusing on three challenges/opportunities in particular. The challenge of numbers of people involved in church life, which we believe provides an opportunity for mission; The challenge of the age profile in many churches, which provides an opportunity to encourage children and young people; The challenge of financial pressure in many parishes, which provides an opportunity for generosity – in its many manifestations.”