General Synod 2022 Presidential Address by Archbishop John McDowell

The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, the Most Revd John McDowell, addressed the Church of Ireland’s 2022 General Synod in Belfast on Wednesday 4th May, shortly after the start of business.  The General Synod, which is the Church’s governing body, met in Assembly Buildings over three days, concluding on Friday (6th May).

In the course of his address, Archbishop McDowell remarked that the Church did its best when faced with the unique circumstances of Covid–19 and thanked everyone who has “worked so hard to get us to where we are now” two years on from the early days of the pandemic.
Archbishop McDowell also:
called for civic society to “encourage and struggle for the common good in partnership with those who govern” following the “atomisation of public space” – a trend related to how social media has developed in recent years;
affirmed that “the backbone of the Church of Ireland throughout this island is the rural parish” and that the Church has a role in working with people in rural communities as we respond to the challenges of climate change;
reported on the initial findings of the ethnic diversity, inclusion and racial justice research project which he had announced at the 2021 General Synod and the need to help people find a place at home in the Church in a world of migration; and
spoke on the “distinctive contribution to reconciliation” which members of the Church make as disciples of Jesus Christ, including through engaging with other agencies and groups in society and encouraging people “who seek to bring wholeness to lives that are very damaged and usually overlooked.”
He commented: “We should be clear in everything that we say publicly and privately that we are contributing to the discussion and achievement of a reconciled society as Jesus’ disciples.”  The Archbishop added that the Christian experience of reconciliation is not transactional: “It is not a case of me bringing my change of heart to God, which he then is almost obliged to reward by forgiveness and reconciliation. It is the presence of Jesus that creates my change of heart and I am his debtor for my repentance as for everything else in those transforming experiences and encounters.”
The address concluded with an appeal to Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, to help to bring the war in Ukraine to a just end, and the Archbishop led the members of General Synod in a prayer for peace in solidarity with the government and the people of Ukraine.

The Full text of the Archbishop’s Speech can be found by following this link