Irish news digest – July 2

The Big DDYC Camp Out is a big success

Pictured above is a group from JIMS Youth Centre, Kilkeel

With Summer Madness unable to go ahead because of the coronavirus pandemic, on Friday evening 26 June, DDYC – Down & Dromore Youth Council – brought Summer Madness to their young people with The Big DDYC Camp Out.

“We had loads of engagement across the diocese, from individuals to groups,” said our Youth Development Officer, Tim Burns. “It also reached beyond the diocese to Armagh and Connor and some Presbyterian groups joined in too.

“A massive thank you to everyone who helped put it all together – the worship, sound, our speakers, the filming and editing. Everyone was so willing to help and pull together and be properly excited about it.

“We are missing Summer Madness this year, and thank you to them for what they have done over 30 years to create a festival that means so much to people. It was a pleasure to, in some small way, support them and to help continue in a very different year what they have been doing consistently for so long. A special mention to John Kee for his generosity in it all.”

Connor Bishop’s BBQ a virtual success

As always, the Rev Canon Mark Taylor set tastebuds tingling as he cooked up a treat for the Connor Summer Madness Sub Camp Bishop’s barbecue.

You may not have been able to smell the delicious Glenarm short horned silverside roast cooked by on the barbecue, but chef Mark’s description of the beef and its accompaniments would have had online viewers – for this was a virtual barbecue – licking their lips!

Due to the cancellation of the annual Summer Madness Festival because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Connor Youth Council has been sharing a range of content on the Engage Connor Youth Facebook and Instagram pages over the weekend.

One of the highlights of the festival is always the Bishop’s BBQ, which this year moved online.

Christina Baillie, Diocesan Youth Officer, said: “We were disappointed that we couldn’t gather at Glenarm for the annual Diocesan Bishop’s BBQ at Summer Madness, but we knew we wanted to mark the moment.

“It was great to gather online to share stories about Summer Madness over the years and remember how the Sub Camp has grown, with many diocesan visitors attending.”

Christina was joined at the virtual barbecue, which was streamed live on Facebook, by head chef Mark, who is rector of Whitehead and Islandmagee; the Rev Philip Benson, Chair of the Connor Youth Council; the Ven George Davison, Connor Bishop-designate, the Ven Dr Stephen McBride and the Ven Paul Dundas, archdeacons of Connor and Dalriada respectively.

Mark shared his expert barbecuing skills with the group, while the bishop-designate, who admitted that he was a ‘Summer Madness newbie’ had staged his BBQ outdoors for the benefit of the event!

Stephen, who is vicar of Antrim Parish, shared his experience of Summer Madness when it took place in Gosford and getting free access for the parish youth group, while Paul reminisced about being ‘John Kee’s right hand man’ in setting up the Mainstage. Philip commented on the benefits of diocesan visitors attending the event as an encouragement, giving the visitors the opportunity to see first-hand how youth ministry in Connor is flourishing.

Drive–in services will ‘springboard’ churches as they move out of lockdown

Worship in the carpark in Ballyclare.

Rain did not deter people from attending a joint churches drive-in service in Ballyclare on Sunday June 28, with 130 cars parked up in the Sixmile Leisure Centre carpark.

Led by the Rev Jonny Campbell-Smyth of the United Parish of Ballynure and Ballyeaston (Ballyclare), members of all churches in the town came together to worship from the warmth of their cars.

The service was broadcast directly to the car radios, which Jonny said worked extremely well given the wet weather.

The worship was led by the joint worship teams of Ballyclare Presbyterian and St John’s, Ballyclare.

Jonny said he had been keen to make the gathering as interactive as possible. “I asked people to affirm their ‘Amens’ with a beep on the horn,” he said. “I was amazed at the end of our singing and at the end of my talk how the sound of horns echoed around the car park.

“It was so encouraging to see so many people join us. It demonstrates that the Church of God is alive today and we are not constrained by our buildings being closed. This gathering will springboard our churches as we move out of lockdown.”

He continued: “Many people were encouraged at the opportunity to come together, even though they had to remain in their cars. It is envisaged that these drive-in services will be organised monthly over the summer with the support of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.”

Points for prayer

God in Creation