The dates for the 2015-2016 season of the initiative, ‘In Joyful Hope: A New Step in Eucharistic Communion’, have been released. The first event takes place on Thursday 24 Sept at 8 pm in St Comgall’s Catholic Church, Brunswick Road, Bangor (BT20 3DS).
In Joyful Hope has been up and running – relatively quietly and behind-the-scenes, it must be said – since 2011. In the absence of Christians from all traditions being permitted to share Eucharist or communion, it attempts to allow Christians to experience each other’s celebrations and to share in them in some way.
The latest brochure about the initiative includes the following quote from Fr Daniel Whyte, published in Redemptio in June 2013:
‘Our focus is on the sharing of who we are with one another, because all that I have, and all that you have is gift (grace). We are the baptised children of our loving Father. In Joyful Hope has opened my eyes and more importantly has opened my heart.’
The other dates are:
Whitehouse Presbyterian Church, BT37 9SY, Tuesday 17 November, 8 pm
St John’s Catholic Church, Falls Road, Belfast, BT12 6EN, February 2016
St Columba’s Church of Ireland, Knock, Belfast, BT5 6JG, Thursday 5 May, 8 pm
The Guideline Statement of those organising the initiative reads:
The apostle Paul records the command of Jesus on the occasion of the Last Supper:
The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you, do this in remembrance of me’. In the same way, after supper, he took the cup, saying, ‘this cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me’. (I Corinthians 11: 23-25)
In the fourth gospel Jesus refers to himself as the Bread of Life:
I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)
These words of Christ encourage us to cherish and value the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper. As Christians from different Christian traditions, Roman Catholic and Protestant, we are thankful for the wide-embracing love of Christ, proclaimed and received in the celebration of the Eucharist. We acknowledge the differences that exist in theological interpretation and liturgical practice and would request respect for these differences, evident, for example, in the Eucharistic discipline of the Roman Catholic Church.
However, we firmly believe that the joy of being present at the Eucharistic worship of another Christian tradition is greater than the pain experienced by observing this Eucharistic discipline. Thereby we hope that we will contribute to bringing nearer the day on which we may share in a common Eucharist.
Why are we doing this?
- To surrender ourselves to the Lord’s will as we share his prayer – ‘Father, may they all be one.’
- To experience together the realisation that Christ is present among us in our various Christian Churches.
- To be edified, inspired, encouraged by one another’s faith in the sacrament of Holy Communion/Eucharist we year for.
The clergy now promoting the initiative are:
Rev David Cooper (Methodist)
Rev Ken Smyth (Church of Ireland)
Rev Stephen Moore (Presbyterian)
Fr Gerry Reynolds CSsR (Catholic)
Fr Daniel Whyte (Catholic)
Rev Nigel Kirkpatrick (Church of Ireland)
Rev Wilfred Orr (Presbyterian)
Rev Stephen Sheerin (Methodist)
Rev Dennis Cooke, former principal of Edgehill Theological College, also helped bring the organizing group together and to shape the guideline statement. The statement was agreed with Anthony Farquhar, Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor.