My friendship with Bishop Ken Clarke and his wife Helen began on Sunday afternoon, January 11, 2009, when they joined the congregation in the historic church for a special worship service being conducted by Bishop Lawrence - Christopher Royer was being ordained to the priesthood. The Holy Spirit anointed the moments we shared and called us into a period of discernment that ultimately birthed this parish's partnership in ministry with the Church of Ireland . . . and what a mutual blessing it has been! Teams of folks from The Church of the Cross have traversed the Atlantic to the Diocese of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh and vice versa on numerous occasions with the intent always being to "come and see what the Lord is doing and could be doing in your patch." In subsequent years our ministry involvement on the Emerald Isle expanded to include New Wine Ireland and then northeast into the Diocese of Down and Dromore.
Bishop Ken Clarke, wife Helen, Becky and Father Chuck Owens
Next weekend Becky and I will be responding to an invitation from Bishop Ken Good to minister in the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe; some of you will remember that, as a part of his sabbatical studies, Bishop Good spent a week or so with us during February of this year. I will be preaching and leading workshops for clergy and lay leaders while Becky joins the Bishop's wife, Mary, in ministering to the clergy wives. Having made five previous trips, we know to expect warm hugs, genuine smiles, hard work and, this time of year, chilly weather that is predictably unpredictable (meaning it's going to rain often, we just don't know when). While there I'll be delivering a check from our Missions Committee to Bishop Good and Rev. Paul Hoey to encourage a turn-around ministry initiative in the village of Eglinton. I will also be extending an invitation to three of the clergy from the diocese to select and join three of their key leaders on a visit to Bluffton next January - again the intent being to "come and see what the Lord is doing and could be doing in your patch."
Bishop Ken Good
Thus far in 2015 fifty people have been baptized in this parish; and in each instance these words have been said, "There is one Body and one Spirit." The ministry we share with our Anglican brothers and sisters in Ireland is a testament to that truth and a mutual commitment to truly be the Body of Christ. And for that we can say, "Thanks be to God!"
In His power and for His glory,