“A beacon of hope for our community” is how one of the organisers Rev Alastair Graham described the interdenominational Christian Voices Together conference which took place in the Mullingar Park Hotel on Sunday.
Attended by 120 people from Mullingar and surrounding areas, the theme of the conference was ‘How can Christians be part of the solution to Ireland’s difficulties?’
“The conference today is a significant beacon of hope for our community. Christianity in practice makes a difference to people’s lives. We hope to clearly identify what needs to be done in the Mullingar area,” said Rev Graham, speaking after the event.
Participants took part in a number of working groups on the day, aimed at creating positive proposals for the community to undertake.
One of the concrete proposals was the need for a place for people to meet, to provide a listening ear to anyone who needs support, to share and pool resources, and to match some of the needs in the community. The importance of supporting existing volunteer agencies in their work was also highlighted, with particular reference to the St Vincent de Paul Society who do great work at the heart of the community. Several people signed up to join working groups to work on the feasibility of these ideas and to put them into action as soon as possible for the greatest benefit.
The conference was facilitated by Martin Kennedy, an experienced freelance trainer and facilitator who managed to make everyone feel relaxed and comfortable with sharing ideas and praying together. Singer Miriam Blennerhasset opened the conference with a wonderful rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’.
A ‘story of our time’ was presented by local woman Rosemary Horan, who spoke of how the recession had affected herself, her family, and her mental health. Her talk set the tone for the day by highlighting some of the struggles facing members of the community. Prayers and reflections were presented by Rev Alastair Graham and Fr Tom Gilroy.
Rev Graham thanked all who were involved in making the conference such a success, particularly those who took part in the conference so wholeheartedly. He described it as “a truly ecumenical gathering of Christians with a common goal: caring about our neighbours and their community”.
See www.christianvoicestogether.com for updates, or find Christian Voices Together on Facebook.