VISION FOR SOCIETY
WE, AS MEMBERS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN IRELAND,
saved by grace
and called by God to grace-filled relationships,
in the power of the Holy Spirit
as ambassadors of Christ’s Kingdom
in a broken and divided world;
BELIEVE that the Good News of Jesus Christ
challenges and equips us
to develop radically new attitudes and relationships
with our neighbours throughout the whole of Ireland.
WE CONFESS our failure
to live as Biblically faithful Christian peacemakers
and to promote the counter culture of Jesus
in a society where cultures clash.
ACCORDINGLY, WE AFFIRM Christian peace building
to be part of Christian discipleship
and reassert the Church’s calling
to pursue a peaceful and just society in our day.
WE SEEK a more reconciled community
at peace with each other
where friend and foe
working together for the common good,
can experience healing
and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As someone who sees himself as an active, rather than what I sued to be passive, peacemaker I am thrilled that our General Assembly endorsed this Vision Statement and that it will be sent out to all of our congregations across the island.
For me, the vital thing, is that we now act upon it. It has been carefully constructed using wording that will give it credence to a theologically sensitive body of people. My prayer would now be that every single minister and congregation gives the same careful thought to applying it in their local context.
It reminds us, maybe even highlights for the first time, that peacemaking is Christian discipleship. It is not extra curricular but part of what it is to be connected with and following Jesus. In the same way it shows us that it is part of our vocation. Speaking in Fitzroy last Sunday night Gladys Ganiel pointed out that research for her book Transforming Catholic Ireland showed a low percentage seeing reconciliation in a political sense important. Hopefully, this Vision might begin to change erroneous theological mindset.
This new Vision is vulnerable and honest enough to confess our past failures. This is vital for our own spiritual growth but also crucial to those we wish to be reconciled to, that they might see our penitent posture in this process.
The line that draws me most is to develop radically new attitudes and relationships. After confession we need to show repentance in very different ways to live. Radical means radical. This will be challenging. It will take imagination of vision and courage of action. I pray that all our ministers and congregations can follow through.
I would like to suggest that the Clonard/Fitzroy Fellowship, that I was blessed to fall into as minister of Fitzroy, is a fine example of the vision already being acted out. We are just about to send a card to our 108 MLAs telling them we prayed for them across our differences in Stormont last month. We have a joint event at Clonard this Sunday night (7pm) when Brian Rowan will speak about his book Unfinished Peace.
I would suggest that Rev Dr Ken Newell, one of our formers Moderators’, new book Capture By A Vision, would be a wonderful resource for anyone working it through in their own lives.
For many I am aware that the first thing they need to do in the developing radical attitudes might be to change their attitudes towards Fitzroy and Ken that I have just mentioned.
Gird your loins! The word compromise is sure appear on this journey as we seek a common good for all of the island. I have discovered that I have had to compromise stances I have had and then realised that compromising some stances was actually not compromising the Gospel of Christ. Often those can be very different things!
Let’s get the Vision printed up and sent out. Let’s live it. For the good of the entire island of Ireland and for the glory of God.