The Year of Mission has begun with the launch of the new Lecale Area Mission Partnership (LAMP) in Down Cathedral.
Bishop Harold commissioned the ministry team and parishioners (right) at an early evening service on 4 January, so launching a new phase of ministry in this beautiful and largely rural part of the diocese.
Bishop Harold in his address reminded the congregation that “mission is everything which God in Christ has sent us to do,”and it is with this in mind that LAMP begins its ministry. The acronym, whilst accurately naming the partnership, also reflects a desire to be a light in the district. There are plans to build up the spiritual life of the churches, developing pastoral care, worship and prayer ministry and to be more effective in outreach.
LAMP is a mission grouping of 14 churches in the Lecale district led by Dean Henry Hull and Revd Stuart Burns. The 14 churches are drawn from 3 parish groups – Lecale, Down and Bright, Ballee, Killough and Rathmullan – which currently minister to 542 households. The Partnership will more effectively resource and strategise mission in the area which fans out from Downpatrick to Seaforde and out along the coast to Ardglass and Tyrella.
A key goal is to develop a strategy for youth and children’s work, and specifically to employ a youth or family worker based in an office/ drop–in centre in Downpatrick. Last year Down Parish purchased a flat with 3 meeting rooms next to the parish hall. The property needs total refurbishment and it’s hoped that the funding applications already in train will help to complete the work in 2015.
The Lecale Area has a rich spiritual heritage, centred around, but not exclusive to, Down Cathedral and Saul. There are plans to expand the cathedral tour programme, to develop the Saul experience and to create a pilgrimage trail round the Lecale churches. These are all opportunities to serve and engage with tourists, pilgrims and visitors to the area.