Changing Times Highlights (Part 2)

Posted by Roger Cooke on Thu, 17 Jul 2014 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

The month of May saw the main focus of CMS Ireland’s 200th Anniversary programme, with 27 global delegates joining CMS Ireland Link Parishes, members and supporters to share, to celebrate and to look to the future. It was a busy few weeks, but it was a hugely significant time, full of blessings for many people.

In the first post of this series, we shared some highlights and images from the Big 200 Challenge, which saw 86 people walking, running and raising funds to help bring our global delegates to Ireland.

The planning process for the 200th Anniversary began in January 2013 – and from the outset, it was agreed that we should invite representatives from our Global Partners to join us for the celebrations. While this would be a costly enterprise – both in terms of finances and staff time – the presence of these representatives was seen as vital to our programme. As Mission Director Ronnie Briggs observed at the time:

These dioceses, churches and organisations are integral to all that we do – to celebrate, reflect or plan without them just wasn’t an option.

So, 12 months ago, letters were written and sent to all 19 of our Global Partners, inviting them to identify a suitable representative (or in some cases, two representatives) to visit Ireland in May 2014 for a two-week programme. Sounds simple enough – but if you have any experience of arranging travel to or from the developing world, you’ll know that there’s a lot more to it than first meets the eye.

We were offering 32 places to our Global Partners and we were doing it in a year when the UK was significantly tightening its control on visa allocations to those from the world’s poorest counties. At the outset, we knew that this would be a huge undertaking but it proved to be even more challenging than anticipated, as even some of those bishops who regularly visit Ireland were denied visas with no clear explanation for the rejection. With only six weeks until the programme started, we were looking at only having 12-13 of our invited global guests.

But God is good and though his grace and the prayers and efforts of many people – we ended up with 27 visitors arriving (mostly) on the 7th May for a two-week programme.

The many obstacles that had been overcome on this journey from initial invitation to arrival into Belfast simply served to heighten the sense of joy, thanksgiving and true fellowship as the CMSI staff joined with the honoured guests for a two-day residential in Lorne House, Cultra.

It was a special couple of days, marked by a deep sense of ‘belonging together’. The sharing and discussions were open, honest and enriching. The laughter was plentiful and the conversations vibrant. It was a time of listening and learning together and it prompted a shared committed to do more to strengthen the partnerships and friendships that have been built up over many years.

Looking back over the various events in May, a number of the global guests and indeed, many on the CMSI staff team, identify those couple of days as their personal highlights. It set the tone and the agenda not just for the following fortnight, but for coming years. These days helped to confirm and further establish something that we had already ‘felt’ to be true:

The relationships between CMS Ireland and our Global Partners provide the focal point and context for everything we hope to do in the months and years ahead.

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