At a special joint meeting, held in Bandon Grammar School on Saturday 25th November, of the Diocesan Council of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, the clergy of the Diocese, and the Council of Diocesan programme Charting A Future with Confidence, the first report of the process was launched by the Bishop, the Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton.
The Charting a Future with Confidence process was initiated by the Bishop in the Diocese in 2014, and was formally inaugurated by the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Reverend Dr Richard Clarke, at a residential conference in the Diocese in the autumn of that year. Since then a steering group and four working groups have been working on four key areas: models of the Church; analysis of similar past programmes within the Diocese and developments nationally in the Church of Ireland; getting an accurate picture of the current situation in the Diocese; and sustainability of the present setup and deployment of ministry in the Diocese.
The reports of these four groups make up the core of the first report which is called Moving on with Confidence. The report opens with an introductory chapter by the Bishop setting the scene and background to Charting a Future with Confidence. The steering group was keen to conclude the report with a theological reflection from someone outside the Diocese, but yet someone who knows it. Bishop John Neill, formally Archbishop of Dublin, and onetime Rector of Abbeystrewry (Skibbereen) in the Diocese was invited to write a concluding chapter to comment and reflect on the reports of the working groups.
Bishop Paul Colton said
There was a hugely purposeful, positive and encouraging atmosphere at Saturday’s meeting. People realise that reports like this are not magic wands or a panacea, and they are keen now to get on with working out, in practice and in action, the consequences of, and the questions that arise from, this initial phase. The report also presents toolkit questions to continue our reflection, and which may shape what we are becoming, under God, in the years ahead.
The Dean of Cork, the Very Reverend Nigel Dunne, introduced the report at Saturday’s meeting on behalf of the steering group. The day conference then worked in small groups of 6-8 people drawing out what is important in the report, what is positive, and what is challenging. The key issues were (i) identifying the questions that the report leaves unanswered that need to be worked on in the next phase, and (ii) how to present the report and engage everyone in the Diocese in the report at parish and other regional levels within the Diocese.
Concluding the day, the Bishop thanked everyone for their positive participation and commitment to the work of the Church in Cork, Cloyne and Ross, and noted that already some of the gaps in the report were being worked on, such as the separate consultation with young people and young adults which had already happened, the outcomes of which will be published as a separate report soon. He also highlighted that aspects of the report in relation to church music, lay adult education and training, and ministry were already being explored and implemented. The last word went to the Dean of Cork who, on behalf of everyone, thanked the Bishop for his leadership.