Church 21

Tullamore Union of Parishes and the CHURCH 21 Parish Development Programme:
There have been two questions frequently asked about this programme: ‘What is it?’ and ‘Why are we doing it?’ The second question is probably the easier one to answer first. We’re doing it because the Select Vestry agreed, with the Bishop’s approval, for us to enter the programme. But we also believe it is God’s will for us to move forward as his Church in this place, if we are to be a continuing power for good and the Gospel of Christ to the people of Clara, Rahan, Tyrrellspass and Tullamore, in the Tullamore Union of Parishes.

So What is CHURCH 21? On the Church 21 Website it says this: “Church21 is the Parish Development Programme for the Church of Ireland and possesses distinct values, concepts and strengths. It is a two year process for parishes of all shapes and sizes. It’s a shared journey designed to help parishes formulate a vision, devise an action plan and begin to put it into practice together.”

It goes on to describe what is required of those parishes who sign up to the programme.

A recognition that patterns of ministry which worked well in the past do not necessarily meet the needs of people today
A willingness to think beyond the conventional
An openness to share with and learn from churches from a wide variety of outlooks
An acknowledgement that there is a cost to change which is at the heart of Christian discipleship
A commitment to work together as a team
A determination to persevere on the journey
One of the Churchwardens in 2010, Stuart Wallace, along with the Rector, attended a Taster Day for the programme in Dublin in early November 2010. As the title of the day suggested, it was designed to give a flavour of what the programme involved, meet with others who were considering enrolling in the programme, and to hear from those who had already benefitted from what Church 21 has to offer. Both came away from that meeting feeling that this was something that the Select Vestry should consider. Having spoken with the Bishop and with his consent the idea was brought to the Select Vestry in December, and it received the wholehearted agreement of the Vestry to enrol in the programme.

Part of the vision of the Select Vestry is that the Church 21 programme will help us:

look at where we are as a church family
see where our strengths are
identify where God may be asking us to go outside of where we feel comfortable
strengthen our worship, prayer and spiritual life such that we are better equipped to share with each other our individual and collective journey with God.
We believe that if we are to reach out to those in our community who are searching for what we have found, namely a reason and a purpose to our lives which goes beyond what the world suggests is important, we need to discern the best way of being the Church of God, both for ourselves, and for those to whom God is calling us to minister in our Union of Parishes, to help dispel the disillusionment many are feeling with government, society, community and the Church.

Please keep the Tullamore Union of Parishes Team in your prayers. They are: Ruth Raftis; Gill Duffy; Stuart Wallace; Yvonne Hutchinson.