The thirty–third meeting of the Irish Inter–Church Meeting took place on Thursday 19 October – Friday 20 October in Dromantine Conference Centre, Newry. The theme for the meeting was “Our Reconciling Vision of Hope: Fifty years since the Ballymascanlon Talks”.
2023 is particularly significant for Irish Inter–Church Meeting (IICM) as it is the 50th Anniversary of the first Ballymascanlon Talks, which led to its establishment. The Talks brought together Protestant and Catholic Churches across the island in the midst of the Troubles.
The IICM was first and foremost intended to be a space for the development of relations between the churches. After sharing lunch and attending various addresses, representatives joined for an service of thanksgiving and reflection as part of the two day meeting. Representatives from across the membership of the Irish Council of Churches and the Catholic Bishops Conference led the service which was attended by delegates from across the island of Ireland.
Various speakers shared at the conference which explored the context around the Ballymascanlon Talks, including the priorities, challenges and achievements of those early years. There was also a session exploring current dynamics in international Inter–Church Relations. Fr. Martin Browne (Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity) shared about recent developments and directions in international ecumenical relations and how they can inform our journey here in Ireland.
“As we celebrate 100 years of the ICC and 50 years of the IICM, we give thanks for those pioneers who took risks and endured criticism for doing what we can do so unselfconsciously today – meeting together. We give thanks that we are no longer strangers to one another, but brothers and sisters, and friends. Perhaps the hopeful vision for the future can be one of still greater closeness – the unity of Christians.”
– Prof. Martin Browne OSB
Day two of the conference began with Rev Dr Donald Watts (Presbyterian Church in Ireland) sharing the positive accomplishments of IICM and its initiatives over the years, noting that “we are involved in a dynamic movement rather than a static structure”.
A panel considered current challenges to our vision of a more connected Church in Ireland, as well as areas offering opportunity for closer relationships and collaboration with ICC Vice–President Bishop Sarah Groves, Rev Dr Heather Morris (Secretary of Conference for the Methodist Church in Ireland) and Dr Damian Jackson (IICM joint secretary). In this session the aspect of hospitality was discussed as we aim to move from knowing each other a little to forming trusting relationships, open to change.
You can read the addresses from the Meeting by clicking each one below:
What was the context around the Ballymascanlon Talks? What were the priorities, challenges and achievements of those early years?
Speaker: Canon Dr Ian Ellis
What do recent developments and directions in international ecumenical relations have to inform our journey here in Ireland?
Keynote speaker: Martin Browne OSB, Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity
Sharing the positive impacts of IICM and its initiatives over the years. How has IICM contributed to development of inter–church relations and the witness of the churches in Ireland?
Speaker: Rev Dr Donald Watts