In the 1980s, against the backdrop of community division
and political violence in Northern Ireland, a group of evangelical
Christians argued for a new response. Setting out ten biblical
values they believed were core to an understanding of Christian
witness in the context of conflict, they called the evangelical
community to a change of attitude and actions.
conviction was that faithful evangelical witness must take
seriously the biblical command to make peace and do justice.
If evangelicals wanted the peace they prayed for, they should
be prepared to work for it. Love of God had to go hand in
hand with a credible response to sectarianism. Also, where
loyalty to political and cultural identities had obscured
loyalty to Jesus Christ, Christians needed to rediscover what
it meant to live for God and his glory alone.
the last 18 years we have encouraged the Christian community
to think biblically about its peacebuilding vocation. We have
sought to look honestly at our own community, leading us to
ask tough questions and acknowledge sectarian attitudes and
practices. We believe that in Christ, God is reconciling the
world; therefore we must seek realistic ways to deal with
historical divisions and heal the wounds of the past.
our understanding of reconciliation and conflict transformation
has grown we have used our skills and experience to support
and resource the church as a peacebuilding community. Alongside
this, we have engaged with the wider peace process and contributed
to the political debate as Northern Ireland looks to a new
The character of Ireland today is virtually unrecognisable
from that of 30 years ago. In what some observers have called
post-Troubles Northern Ireland and post-Catholic
Ireland, the political, social, cultural and spiritual
environment has changed significantly. While the challenges
of building a peaceful and inclusive society remain, the bigger
challenge now facing us is the reality of this change.
secular culture that has shaped the public space of most of
Europe is now radically redefining the values and ethics of
our society. Increasingly, Christians of all traditions throughout
Ireland are acknowledging that Christianity will come to occupy
a very different place in this new society. Together we face
the challenge of understanding what a faithful biblical witness
to Jesus Christ will look like in this new era.
be faithful to God and to biblically engage in this new context
requires us to learn to serve all people whatever their culture
or belief and, in so doing, follow the example of Jesus.
massive shifts in our culture have formed the backdrop to
our work for the past five years. Increasingly they have shaped
the content and direction of our ministry with leaders and
congregations. Through a process of careful consultation and
prayerful discernment our response to change is to embrace
change for ourselves.
we seek to take up this challenge, from April 2005, our organisation
will be known as Centre for Contemporary Christianity in Ireland.
is unsettling, but it can also be an opportunity. Failure
to engage with change will mean the church becoming increasingly
marginalized and irrelevant to our society. Yet, change is
the context in which we restore vision and vocation. It offers
an opportunity for innovative and radical initiatives.
We desire to see the Christian community in Ireland nurture
a deeply-rooted and radical biblical faith. Faith in a God,
who in Jesus Christ reconciles the world, restores human relationships
and is concerned for all of life and creation.
Over the next five years we are committed to establishing
the Centre for Contemporary Christianity in Ireland as a respected
and recognised resource for the church throughout Ireland
and beyond. It will be a place where Christians can access
biblical resources and practical support. A place to develop
the knowledge and personal skills needed to serve their communities
at points of contention, conflict and social change.
Central to our thinking is the question: what is a biblically
informed response to the context in which we are now called
to serve God and witness to Christ?
new situation demands new beginnings and new acts of discernment,
new models of leadership
new approaches to church
new opportunities for co-operation
new conversations in the public space
nothing less than a new commitment to biblical faith for a
is this biblical faith that shapes and informs the evangelical
ethos of the Centre for Contemporary Christianity. As evangelicals,
we believe we are challenged to find new avenues of partnership
and service across the Christian traditions. We will draw
on biblical reflection and informed comment from all who share
faith in Christ and a commitment to his teaching and example.
To engage creatively
with the change in culture and values that shape our communities
requires the best of resources, wisdom and skills. If the
church is to nurture biblical faith through its worship and
witness it cannot ignore the contemporary context. The task
is to affirm a faith that not only gives us confidence to
confront change, but to shape it.
In developing a new
engagement with the changing cultural context, we will prioritise
three areas of concern which build on our expertise from the
Addressing conflict, both locally and globally, is integral
to effective Christian witness in today's world. We will continue
to develop appropriate theological and practical resources
to address conflict transformation and reconciliation.
The challenges which we face living in an increasingly
diverse society are not to be underestimated. We will help
churches, individuals and communities to understand this rapidly
changing situation; to enable them to explore diversity in
all its forms and take a leading role, as Christians, in contributing
to an inclusive and respectful society.
The relationship between faith and politics, moral values
and public policy, discipleship and national identity, are
still key issues. Yet, both the ability and the right of the
church to participate in the public square are increasingly
being called into question. We will speak to the issues based
on relevant research and analysis providing the church with
a biblical perspective for debate and action.
Centre for Contemporary
Christianity in Ireland will seek to be a catalyst. In
order to serve and resource the church we will put in place
a range of events and initiatives. We will also develop our
own engagement with change in the wider community.
its core will be a team of skilled and experienced people
committed to four key activities:
We will provide informed, credible and practical comment
and analysis on pertinent issues, rooted in biblical reflection
and theological thought.
We will create and facilitate opportunities to learn,
through courses, workshops and other events, and produce relevant,
high-quality resources and materials.
We will engage with wider society, modelling good practice,
building relationships, developing co-operation, supporting
and encouraging others to join us and working in partnership
We will develop our national and international relationships
with churches and other Christian organisations for mutual
learning in areas of common concern.
We are excited by what we believe God has given us to do.
Working alongside the churches and other faith based groups
and organisations; we want to contribute to a serving community
of Christians that will be good news for the people of Ireland
- a community that is both radical and faithful in its life
our part we are committed to take risks.
hard questions not only of our society, but also of scripture
and the church.
our faith knowing that there is nothing in our world outside
the scope of Gods grace and love.
outside the box in which Christian faith is placed by
both the church and society.
biblical faith not simply as a guard against a hostile
world, but as a resource we offer for the needs of a changing
can be part of this future.
are here for you to use:
Invite us to help resource your congregation, group
or organisation as they face this growing task.
Sign up to our mailing list and avail of our resources
and events to develop your own contribution to change.
invite you to join us on this quest:
Share with us through your gifts and prayers for our
Become part of one of our initiatives, bringing your
skills and contribution to our team.