This week Fr Martin Magill returned to the monthly service of the Dock Church in the Titanic Quarter, held onboard the Nomadic. The service included worship, updates on the growth and progress of the Dock cafe project, and Rev Chris Bennett’s vision of the Dock “as an umbrella encompassing a variety of different churches and people.”
An admirably all-encompassing umbrella approach has been evident in the Dock since its very beginnings, and is reflected in its multi-denominational chaplaincy team. I love the way the Dock website describes its team:
The Dock now involves Chaplains from six different traditions: Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Congregational, Nazarene – or as they prefer to be known (because who boxes people up like that any more?), Chris, Karen, Finian, Brian, Wesley and Richard.
Call into Dock Cafe any day and you will bump into one of them, serving your coffee, lurking back at Doris the Dock Dishwasher, or just mooching around the tables enjoying the craic.
I think the umbrella approach has the potential to restore relationships — not debates over beliefs or rituals — to the heart of Christianity in Belfast. The Dock is providing an example of how that kind of Christianity can survive and thrive.
Fr Martin Magill’s Ecumenical Tithing: The Dock Church
As this was the first Sunday of the month I went onboard the Nomadic in the Titanic Quarter for the Dock Church’s monthly service. It was great to see some people from my parish, Sacred Heart in North Belfast, also onboard. The chaplain Rev Chris Bennett welcomed us and put the service into the context of the Dock Church and cafe.
He then handed over to Jeremy Kinnen and Cath Butler to lead us in song. We sang a number of hymns finishing with “Make me a channel of your peace”. Chris then asked us to pray again the chorus of the hymn:
“Oh Master, grant that I may never seek so much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love with all my soul”.
Chris then provided an overview of the development of the Dock Church and Dock cafe. After giving us the history of the project, he reflected on how God can take something very small and make it into something much greater.
Chris handed over to James McCartney, Dock cafe manager, who talked about the changes in the cafe and some of his plans for it.
James told us about the cafe traybakes and the Suki tea and about his plans for “tea school.” He said on peak days 400 people come into the cafe. He told us about his plans to upgrade the coffee. He then shared some stories about people who had met each other in the cafe and about how one of the volunteers had become Christian. James encouraged us when we had positive experiences of the cafe to write and submit these comments to “Trip Advisor”.
Chris then handed over to Joachim, the other staff member. Joachim described some of his work for the Dock. He told us there were 71 volunteers. Quoting Matthew 6:25-26:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Joachim shared how the Dock so far always had enough for what they need. He then referred to Heb 11:30: “By faith the walls of Jericho fell.” He also told us about the various pop up markets that came out of the Dock Cafe, and that there would be pop up markets twice a month. Joachim then informed us about a “meanwhile garden” which he hoped to develop within the Titanic Quarter.
After that, Chris talked to us about his vision for the Dock as an umbrella encompassing a variety of different churches and people.
We sang a final hymn before Chris invited us onto the deck for a short time of prayer and the unfolding of an umbrella to represent his new vision.
We then went for refreshments to the Dock Cafe.