On Saturday 24th November around 300 delegates representing all
parishes in the Diocese of Down & Dromore attended a major
conference on Church Growth appropriately given the catchy title
?Ready, Steady, Grow?. The morning and afternoon seminars, which
were led by experts in church growth, were held in newly
refurbished Willowfield Parish Church and St Clement Parish
Church in inner city East Belfast.
The Rev Canon Norman Jardine (Rector of St Jude?s, Ballynafeigh)
welcomed the delegates. In an inspirational keynote address, the
Church of Ireland Bishop of the Diocese of Down & Dromore, the
Right Revd Harold Miller opened the conference saying ?It is
wonderful to meet with key people from the diocese to look at
how God can grow His church. We are truly grateful to see the
many ways in which the Church of Ireland in this diocese has
been experiencing God?s blessing over the years - we have more
leaders than ever (including 24 youth workers in parishes),
increased financial giving and larger-than-ever congregations at
key times like Christmas?. The Bishop went on to say ?The
Diocese has also experienced the largest number of confirmations
and ordinations in ten years. However, we also have challenges
including fewer infants being baptized, and decreasing numbers
in Sunday schools?.
Bishop Harold issued a challenge to the diocese - ?Make Sunday
worship a glimpse of heaven?. He continued, ?turn churches
outwards in engagement with the community and experiment with
new ways of being a church in the 21st century?.
Bishop Harold also launched a new initiative to invite those who
had never been confirmed or baptized to consider the possibility
of exploring the faith and becoming full members of the church.
Fifteen hundred ?Come on?on in? cards have been printed to be
given to those who may wish to be baptized or confirmed in the
Amongst the panel of seminar leaders were the Revd George Lings,
Director of the Church Army Research Unit in Sheffield and the
Revd Mark Melluish, Vicar of St Paul?s, Ealing, London, who is a
well-known church growth specialist.
The seminars on offer varied from ?Mission to the more
affluent?, ?What can we learn about mission from the church
overseas??, ?How healthy is your church?? to ?Why do young
people not go to church?? and ?Why do men not go to church??.[archives/photogallery/photo00029358/real.htm]