This week Fr Martin Magill’s ecumenical tithing takes him to All Saints Church of Ireland Church in Antrim, a service which includes two baptisms. What continues to be interesting to me is how Fr Magill’s visits prompt not only reflections on the services, but conversations with parishioners – evidence of the building of relationships that this practice can encourage.
Fr Martin Magill’s Ecumenical Tithing – All Saints Antrim
This week it was off to All Saints Church, Antrim, for Sunday evening worship which turned out to be evening prayer combined with the baptism of two babies. The service was led very prayerfully by the Curate Assistant, Rev Adrian Halligan. As I waited for the service to start, I enjoyed listening to the peal of the church bell calling people to prayer. It touched something deep within me. Just before the service began Adrian made a point of greeting and thanking me for the Radio Ulster ‘Thought for Today’ in which I mentioned All Saints, Antrim and how I began my ‘ecumenical tithing’.
I found the hymns very accessible and was delighted to discover a new hymn (to me) called ‘God is here’ by Fred Green providing a comprehensive presentation of the mission of the Church. I was pleased the scripture passage was taken from the Common lectionary – from Luke 7:36ff. Adrian preached a short sermon inviting the congregation to take responsibility for our wrong doing and to ask how we could put right what we have messed up. He gave a personal example from an earlier part of his life which illustrated the point very well.
It was interesting to observe the two families at the baptism. There were various degrees of response to the parts which involved parents and god parents. I wonder what they made of it. Adrian carried each newly baptised baby around the church for all present to see. I found some of the language which the Church of Ireland used interesting – there was a prayer addressed to the baby which encouraged the baby to be Christ’s faithful ‘soldier and servant’. The Roman Catholic Church seems to have dropped the language of the army. I’m left wondering did some of the militaristic language appeal more to men? Certainly Catholic parishes in my diocese struggle to involve men in various committees and the numbers of men at church services are much less than women.
In the intercessions, Adrian added in a prayer for fathers on Fathers’ Day and also a prayer for the G8 leaders – I especially liked the line for the leaders which prayed that their two days here would be ‘more than window dressing’ and the decisions they make would mean that the poorest people in the world could have life before death.
Afterwards I chatted to a number of people including Adrian whom I had meet several times before at services in All Saints. In my conversation with an elderly woman she reminisced about growing up in West Belfast before ‘The Troubles’ where Catholic and Protestant lived side by side.
- Catholic parishes could make greater use of parts of the Divine Office.
- Praying about events going on in the wider community e.g. the G8 summit, connects church and community
- Again the issue of separated living was brought out – there does not appear to be any strategic intention to change this