The 97th Annual Meeting of the Irish Council of Churches took place remotely, for the first time, via video call. Members of the Executive Committee joined with ICC officers last week to carry out AGM business including the transfer of the ICC presidency. A new president is elected every two years. While this usually happens in person, this year, the Very Rev Ivan Patterson was welcomed as ICC president for 2020–2022 during the video call.
For ICC as a fellowship of churches ‘Connecting in Christ’, we seek to develop a heart that moves us together to think beyond our own denominations and to be proactive in response to various issues. We are grateful for the technologies that allow us to continue this work in challenging times where circumstances beyond our control have left us almost totally reliant on various digital platforms.
The 2019 Annual Report was shared with AGM delegates and is now available on our website. The report reflects on the recent papers produced and conferences held by ICC, throughout past year, to encourage churches engaging with major societal challenges. These include the implications of Brexit and how, in the face of differences of opinion we should work together for a good future; the call to reflection and action in the ‘Climate Justice Affirmations’; ongoing peace and reconciliation work; and the challenging resource regarding housing insecurity and homelessness.
With issues of housing and homelessness being central to our workplan, it is fitting that the cover of the Annual Report shows the roof tops of terrace houses with the spire of a church in the background. It reminds us that the meaning of home is different for everyone. During these challenging times, home has taken on a new significance and become the centre for most of life’s activities.
Very Rev Ivan Patterson, ICC President, reflected that
“It is perhaps the Covid19 emergency above all else that has brought into sharp focus the need for the community to rise above its private thoughts and actions to reach out to one another and to build trust for the future.
For many this pandemic has engendered fear and uncertainty and we pray that our resolve may be strengthened so that we can live more hopefully to a better day. For Christians our hope must rest in God. The Psalmist (46) reminds us that God is our refuge and strength a hope in our time of trouble.”
Rev Brian Anderson has been Council president 2018–2020 choosing the theme of ‘seeking the Common Good’ to explore during his presidency. Rev Anderson, shared
“I hope that those who take on the role of recording the history of the churches in Ireland will give an account of a Christian community that was true to its values: exercising civic responsibility, going above and beyond in its pastoral outreach to society and the care of the most marginalised.
We are living through the defining historical moment of our generation. It is encouraging to see the new ways that people are communicating and engaging with others. With this in mind, we aspire to be a Church that lives out that “perfect Love that drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). We look forward to a time when the COVID–19 threat has passed, when we can help communities on the island of Ireland to recover, leading the way in lamenting, grieving and rebuilding hope through salvation.