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By Earl Storey

ne of the ongoing key
commitments of par-
ishes in the United
Diocese of Derry and Raphoe
is to find ways of serving need
within local communities.
To this end, two special
conferences were held recent-
ly on successive Saturdays
in The Everglades Hotel,
Londonderry, attended by a
total of over 500 members of
the Diocese - approximately
10 representatives from each
parish, led by their rector.
The conferences - an imp-
ortant part of Derry and
Raphoe’s Strategic Plan for the
future - were designed to ena-
ble participants both to reflect
on the variety of needs which
existed within their commu-
nities and to identify creative
ways in which parishes could
use their gifts and strengths to
address these needs.
The overall theme of the
conferences - Transforming
Community, Radiating Christ
- was designed to capture the
essence of what the Diocese
aimed to live out at parish
level. Speaking ahead of the
first conference, the Bishop of
Derry and Raphoe, the Rt Revd
Ken Good, had asserted that
“the Church must be an agent
of positive transformation in
our local communities”.
The first part of the theme
- Transforming Community
- was designed to describe
a diocesan commitment to
community transformation
and to express the belief that
Church life was never meant
to be static, but rather, always
growing and developing. It
also captured the idea that
churches were called to be
agents for positive change in
their local communities.
Radiating Christ described
the core aspiration of the
Diocese, as lived out at parish
level: to communicate Christ
in everything done and said.
The conferences reflected
on three central diocesan val-
ues in order to achieve the aim
of the theme:
• We seek growth: a belief that
growth is possible and can
be expressed in the depths of
one’s relationship with God
and with one another.
• We serve in teams: a belief
that growth can best be
achieved by people working
together as a team in parishes,
rather than by one person.
• We encourage leaders: a
belief that leadership helps
people to imagine what the
future might look like and how
to get there.
Each conference comprised
a mixture of worship, keynote
presentations, drama and
group work, through which
members of the Diocese - with
a tangible sense of energy and
excitement - began to plan
how the three values could be
lived out in the future at local
One of the key messages
to emerge from the confer-
ences was that central to the
concept of Christian ministry
was acts of service within local
Following the first confer-
ence, Bishop Good comment-
ed: “The Church brings a mes-
sage of hope which it is called
to express in acts of service to
others. In Derry and Raphoe,
we are committed to demon-
strating this by finding ways of
serving need in the communi-
ties of which we are part.”
Describing volunteering
as being “an important part
of the life of every parish,”
the bishop continued: “Right
across the Diocese, there are
inspiring examples of church
members volunteering their
time and energy for the well-
being of their local communi-
“These diocesan confer-
ences are not only means of
recognizing the service that
already takes place but also
important opportunities to
‘imagine’ how we can take
new volunteering initiatives.”
That both conferences ran
so effectively was due in no
small measure to the Revd
Mervyn Peoples who carried
out the planning for each
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Church called to bring ‘message of hope
in acts of service’ - Bishop Ken Good
Bishop Ken Good (centre) chats at one of the Derry and Raphoe conferences with some mem-
bers of Aghadowey parish (from left) Rosi Skuce, Deborah Robinson, William Robinson and
Stanley Forsythe.
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