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January 2018 issue now available

The January 2018 issue of the Methodist Newsletter has just been published and is available for collection.

January 2018 contentsCover
















The joys and challenges of ministry



The Junior Ministers 2017

The Junior Ministers (in their first ten years of ministry) of the Methodist Church in Ireland met recently for their annual meeting.  Two of the presenters at the meeting were the Rev Dr Ken Wilson on the theme  of ‘The Challenge of Ministry’ and the Rev John Alderdice on the theme of ‘Tensions in Ministry’.  These were two very apposite subjects bearing in mind the results of a recent, short survey conducted by the Rev Ross Harte amongst Junior Ministers about the joys and challenges of their ministry.


From the survey, the most fulfilling aspect of ministry is leading worship and preaching (50%). Further satisfaction comes from leading people to Christ (27%), meeting people in their homes (23%) and walking with people through illness and death (23%). This suggests a strong link between the call to ministry and the desire to lead God’s people in worship and discipleship along with a compassionate drive to be with people in their difficult times.

Perhaps understandably, the challenge selected by most people was not having enough time to do everything they want (or are expected) to do (39%). Time pressures necessarily lead to the prioritisation of some aspects of ministry, which can lead to tension both internally and with other people. Loneliness (or not having any ‘real’ friends in the church) was the second most selected challenge (31%). Perhaps this is because ministers find themselves surrounded by people but unable to form deeper relationships that aren’t governed by an unwritten ‘pastor-client’ contract.

Every role comes with its joys and challenges, but at present it appears that some junior ministers might not be flourishing in the way we might hope. The Rev Harte suggests taking a moment to commit to praying daily for our ministers as they help the Church find its way through this season of anxiety and uncertainty.

A full account of the junior ministers’ meeting and the Rev Harte’s survey will be published in the January issue of the Methodist Newsletter.

Do you know people you disagree with?

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In his latest President’s letter to be published in the January edition of the Methodist Newsletter, Laurence Graham asks if we really know people we disagree with.  Referring to the story of the woman at the well, Laurence makes the point that Jesus cut across all the barriers of division by, not only initiating a conversation, but even making himself vulnerable by asking for the woman’s help to get water.

Laurence asks us, in the New Year, to think of people with whom we disagree and make an effort, not necessarily to agree with them, but to get to know them.  He himself has made a start by attending a Party Conference of a party whose views he doesn’t agree with and also talking to people of different faiths.  He still doesn’t agree with them, but he now knows them better.  He quotes the words of the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, ‘Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?   May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt we may.’

The full text of the letter will be printed in the January issue of the Methodist Newsletter.

December Methodist Newsletter now published

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Copies of the December 2017 Methodist Newsletter are available for collection.

November Methodist Newsletter now published

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The November issue of the Methodist Newsletter is now available for collection.

Ireland in crisis – new group calls for radical rethink

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Methodist Lay Leader, Dr Fergus O’Ferrall, is pictured with Professor Linda Hogan of Trinity College Dublin,  at today’s launch of A Dialogue of Hope – Critical Thinking for Critical Times.

The book, to which Dr O’Ferrall has contributed a chapter on ‘key areas for constructive engagement, community, solidarity and active citizenship’, calls for the creation of a new narrative for 21st- century Ireland based on input from a representative and inclusive range of Irish people.

Gerry O’Hanlon SJ, convenor of the Dialogue of Hope group notes: “We have a housing crisis; we have serious systemic problems in our health service and policing structures, and we see villages dying on their feet in rural Ireland, yet all we hear talk of is of  economic growth and increasing stability. But the reality is that the economic model is patently failing and we need a new narrative that is much broader and deeper than the neo-liberal economic model can provide.”

The group, which came together in March 2016, is calling on people of all views in Irish society – poor and rich, secularists, atheists, believers, scientists, artists, poets, and philosophers – to come together and work out an alternative vision for Ireland based on common values and not on the single economic model that they see as underpinning thinking today.

They say that they take hope from the signs of social activism, courageous witness and some creative responses to the crisis but that more is needed.

In the newly launched publication, they analyse the roots of the current crises, outline a vision that could help mobilise a broad coalition of those willing to work for change and suggest possible approaches for developing a platform for this coalition. They also propose lines of action that demonstrate the potential for Christian engagement with secular society in tackling specific common concerns.



October Methodist Newsletter now published

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The October issue of the Methodist Newsletter is now ready for collection.