St. Macartin's Cathedral
Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
St Macartin's – At the Heart of the Community
Strengthening Commitment, Outreach, Worship and Christian Love
(last updated 30th April 2012)
Four Evangelists, One Gospel
I visited the opticians recently and as most of you will know, one of the tests you get there involves identifying which of two sets of circles is clearest. The optician adds a series of lenses and wants to know if you find the object sharper with them or without them. During the Sunday mornings in Lent we have been thinking about the distinctive features of each of the four Gospels. We are blessed to have four different yet similar views of the life and work of
Jesus providing us with different lenses with which to see more clearly why He came, what He did and what it means for us.
In all four accounts of His life we see that the ministry of Jesus has a purpose, He does not simply wander through Galilee teaching and healing, He has a destination in view, Jerusalem; He does not just randomly perform miracles or expel demons, He has a destiny to fulfil, giving his life as a ransom for many. Meeting with Him changes people’s lives – a widow’s sorrow is transformed, a greedy man becomes generous, a prostitute is given dignity, the lost are searched out, the hungry are given food, those who follow him find hope and a place in God’s kingdom.
Holy Week approaches when we would in heart and mind journey again to Jerusalem, make that journey so that as you see the providence and purpose of God in the life of Jesus you might see that providence and purpose worked out in the world of today and in your life today. Don’t waste this season, take the journey so that you might meet afresh with the Lord and know his grace amid your trials and sorrows, and know His forgiveness for your sins and His redeeming hope for your life.
Canon Reggie Twaddell is our guest preacher for Holy Week; the series of united services begin on Palm Sunday evening at seven o’clock in the Presbyterian Church, continuing at 8.00 pm in the Cathedral from Monday to Good
Friday and concluding with Easter evening praise at seven o’clock in the Methodist Church. Canon Twaddell worked as a teacher prior to being ordained and served in several parishes before retiring after a long and faithful
incumbency in the large parish of Portadown.
In a changing world where we no longer speak about things being as safe as the Bank of England it is good to have the built in reminder that Holy Week and Easter bring of the eternal and unchanging message of the Cross and Resurrection. Together let us take the opportunity this special season brings to look again to the One the Gospels focus on, Jesus Christ our Lord.
The month of March was a very special and important time in the life and history of our parish. VISION 2012+ was launched at our morning service on Sunday 4th March. The preacher at this service was our curate Rev. Alistair Warke who was heavily involved with the planning of VISION 2012+. VISION 2012+ wasbe a month long engagement with all our parishioners, which we pray was the beginnings of a new and exciting relationship for us with God, the Church and the wider community. Every parishioner's home received a visit from one of the parish visitors to permit discussion about involvement, commitment, opinions and most of all our vision for the future.
The visitation had several purposes. Firstly it was an opportunity to show a commitment to parishioners, in Christian love, by acknowledging their importance to God as a members in this parish. We wanted everyone to know that they are valued and loved as parishioners of this ancient parish.
A second purpose of the visit was to collect information that would be useful and relevant to us as we plan for the future. We wanted to take a snapshot of the parish in 2012 and use the information we collect to plan how best we can further the Kingdom of God in Enniskillen over the coming years. The information will be held, in confidence, in line with the Parish Data Protection Policy which was recently adopted by The Select Vestry. A copy of the Data Protection Policy can be obtained from the office. You also had an opportunity to review the financial support given to the parish. This is a vital aspect of future planning. With a major upgrade of the Cathedral Hall needed in the near future and the ongoing costs of running the parish continuing to rise it is important that we maintain a sound financial footing for the future.
A third purpose was to ask each person what he or she can offer to the parish as a commitment to fuller and more active involvement. We asked everyone to think about any ways he or she could help with their talents and expertise.
Finally we wanted to hear individual opinions on the present and visions for the future.
The sermon by Rev. Alistair Warke to launch Vision 2012+
On 28th August 1963, a man stood on the steps of the Washington Memorial in Washington DC to deliver a speech. When he stopped speaking 17 minutes later, the words he had spoken in such a short time would go down in history as some of the greatest ever spoken. That was partly down to the man himself. Partly it was down to the passion with which he believed and delivered those words and partly it was down to the subject about which he was speaking – his vision for the future – a new and exciting future, full of hope and promise. The man who spoke on that August day in 1963 was Martin Luther King Jr and the speech he delivered that day contained the words ‘I have a dream’. King’s speech that day was the inspiration for a surge of support for the Civil Rights movement in the USA which in time led to greater emancipation of black people in the States. But King's words have also been drawn on countless times by others in the cause of demonstrating the importance of having a dream, a vision, and of following that vision with passion and determination.
I will not pretend that my words this morning will come anywhere near those of Martin Luther King but what I do know is that what I say to you I believe. It is something for which I have a great passion and determination and I hope and trust that you do too and that you will want to pursue it with similar passion and determination. Today I want to speak to you about St. Macartin’s and of Vision 2012+.
As parishioners of St Macartin’s Enniskillen, you live in a wonderful place. Enniskillen and its surroundings is a place of great beauty and history. Its legacy stretches back into the ancient history of this land, and this parish church has a huge share in it. For over 300 years St Macartin’s has stood on this site overlooking the town, silently witnessing all that has gone on in the streets below, and among all the change and history and yes suffering, St Macartin’s has stood and stands today as a symbol and witness to the Christian Faith and to God’s love for his people amidst all the changes and chances of this fleeting world. Within its walls you and your forebears have come to know God, to experience His
closeness and his love, to be led and nurtured in your walk with him, to be married, to have your children baptised and confirmed and to say your farewells to those you love. You, and the generations before you, have inherited a wonderful
legacy and now today we meet to think about the future, with a vision in our hearts to commit ourselves to fulfilling that vision so that, in our day, we can make the most of what has been handed to us and, having enhanced it, to pass it to those who are coming after us. As we face the future here in Enniskillen it is essential that we face it with vision in our hearts and that it is a vision which speaks to the present as well as the future for we cannot live tomorrow if we do not live today. The vision we have must be held with passion and determination, it must place God centrally in all our lives. The vision can not be properly focused if God is on the periphery of our lives- for what is on the periphery of our vision is never truly in focus.
So with clear determination to live today so that we can live tomorrow, I present VISION 2012+. The thought behind this project began in the autumn of last year. The Dean suggested it was time for a stewardship campaign and that I should be responsible for the planning and so it started. In my mind, however, I wanted this to be more than just a stewardship campaign where the focus is traditionally on finances. I wanted it to be more, to secure not only a sound financial footing for the future but also to secure a commitment to the future of the parish in many other ways as well.
Vision 2012+ comes in 5 parts. Firstly we want to show a commitment to you. The VISION 2012+ pack is going into all the homes of our parish as a reminder to those we see often, and those we don’t, of the Church’s and God’s commitment in love to you. The church does not exist for its own glorification but as Christ’s body on earth, to serve and bring to each and all the message of God’s saving love. The Dean and I both share a passionate desire that all should come to know and love God in a deep and fulfilling personal relationship and we both want to assure each and every parishioner of our commitment to you in Christian Love. There is nothing in your life too great or too small that you cannot bring to us. We commit to being here for you day and night as an advisor, confidant, priest and pastor. Our desire that you and yours should know, experience and respond to God’s expressed love for you compels us in this commitment.
Vision 2012+ is also about information. The Select Vestry have purchased a new computer software package, especially designed for churches and we want to fill it with information that will be useful in planning activities and pastoral care on a daily basis in the days ahead. Technology allows us to do so much. For instance we are asking you to consider giving us your mobile phone number which would be particularly useful for sending reminders now and again about forthcoming events. All the information you give will be held in strictest confidence under the Parish Data Protection Policy.
Thirdly we are asking you to consider your commitment to Christ, his Church and to each other as parishioners. In Vision 2012+ we are asking everyone to consider the level of commitment you make to God and the church. Is it as central to your life and the lives of your family as it can be? Or is it on the periphery – the respectable thing to do, the respectable thing to be associated with. God’s commitment to you is full, of that there can be no doubt – to the point of death – full. Vision 2012+ asks you to examine your relationship with him and to fully commit your life to him, his church and to your brothers and sisters in Christ. There are many ways you can show your commitment, in your devotional life, by being regularly in church and at the Holy Communion. But there are practical ways as well in which your commitment can be shown. Within your pack you will find an audit of talents, gifts and expertise. The life blood of a church and parish is its people and what they bring to the life of their church. Yes we have a body, in terms of the buildings but a body is dead and useless without its life blood. In Vision 2012+ we are looking to discover what talents and expertise you have to offer that help sustain and strengthen the future of parish life.
On a practical level Vision 2012+ is asking you to consider the level of your financial commitment to the church. Everyone is conscious of the difficult and straightened financial times we are all living in and I as a clergyman feel uncomfortable speaking about finances at any time, least of all now, and while the Church is not a business it is a reality that the Church must meet its obligations and pay its bills. It depends on you, its parishioners, to support as best you can. Please consider if you can even marginally increase your giving to secure a sound financial footing for the parish as it moves forward bearing in mind always that the biblical principle of tithing 10% of our
income should underpin all our considerations in this regard.
The final part of Vision 2012+ is to do with Vision itself and with your vision. Thus far this has been a very personal vision – they are my thoughts which have been refined by our small steering group. But what really matters in all this is you and your vision for the present and the future. You have an opportunity for your own input which we hope you will take seriously. Your ideas, your thoughts your vision matter. Tell us what we are doing right, things we might do and things you think we need to do better. I really hope you take up this opportunity because Vision 2012+ is about you. It is about showing that regardless of who you are or who you think you are in terms of the wider parish, that you matter. You matter to God, you matter to us as clergy, you matter in terms of the future of the parish. Without you the church and the parish is nothing. The Dean and I, we matter little, we are only passing through, we came and one day, I hope not too soon, we will go again but you will stay because this is your church, this is your parish. I pray that you have the passion and determination to commit and work to a secure future for it with a vision that makes it all possible.
I want to finish with some words I read recently in a parish profile of a small rural parish who are looking for a new rector. The parishioners of the parish wrote:
“Our churches mean the world to us and play such an important part in all our lives. In them we feel safe and content and long to see their future secured”
Here, in the Parish of Enniskillen, you have a wonderful parish and I know it means so much to so many of you. It plays an important part in your lives. It is a place to feel secure and content. It is my earnest prayer that with passion and determination in your hearts that you will grasp hold of Vision 2012+ and long in your hearts to do all in your power to work for its future so that together we can go forward strengthened in commitment, outreach, worship and Christian love.
For services and meetings, please use the drop down menu on the HOME page