Fermanagh Churches Forum

creating community ~ celebrating diversity

The Importance of Being Human

This year’s course with Dr Johnston McMaster begins next week, on Thursday 6th October at 8pm. Anyone who has been to these courses in previous years will know how enormously invigorating and inspiring they are, and what a privilege it is to hear Johnston speak and to share in the conversations which his ideas spark.

This year’s topic will be especially thought-provoking for all of us. In The Importance of Being Human: Biblical Insights on Being Human Together Johnston will be looking at what the Bible tells us about our humanity. For much of our lives we live out of labels invented by society and these labels define and confine us. We uncritically buy into them and live by them. So we are Protestant or Catholic, Irish or British, Christian or Muslim, male or female, straight or gay. And there are more! They are all about categories of superior/inferior, dominant/dominated, normal/abnormal. But who determines all of this? None of it is who we really are. So what does it mean to be authentically human? How can we be human together? How can we enable human flourishing and promote and sustain human wellbeing?

The course this year will be held at the Bridge Centre , 16 East Bridge Street Enniskillen (the hall beside/behind the Presbyterian Church) from 8pm until 10pm on Thursday evenings from 6th October to 3rd November (see course outline below). Each evening is self-contained, so if you can’t get to all of them that isn’t a problem. They are entirely free of charge, open to everyone, and there is no need to book. Please feel free to share this post with family, friends and colleagues.


Course Outline


Week 1 (Oct 6)

Beginning with the Human : Genesis 1 and Reimagining Who We Are

Week 2 (Oct 13)

Being Human and Humane Together : Jesus as Son of Man and Truly Human

Week 3 (Oct 20)

The Practice of Being Human Together : The Micah Vision of a Humane Society

Week 4 (Oct 27)

I Consume Therefore I Am! : Beyond Individualism to Neighbourly Covenant

Week 5 (Nov 3)

Remember, You Are Dust: Every Wednesday an Ash Wednesday to Realize Our Vulnerable, Authentic Identity

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Building The Future Together: Embracing and Celebrating Our Global Citizenship


image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blender3D-Erde.png


What kind of future can we build in the context of Brexit? How will our lives change as the influence of the West, including the United States, declines while that of Asia grows in the years to come? Can we meet the challenges of globalisation without resorting to hard borders and the building of walls? What do the events of 500 years ago teach us about reform and renewal?

These are some of the questions which will be raised and discussed at a day conference at the Killyhevlin Hotel on Friday 23rd September, organised by the Fermanagh Churches Forum with the support of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

Part of Community Relations and Cultural Awareness Week, the conference is titled Building The Future Together: Embracing and Celebrating Our Global Citizenship. The main speaker will be Dr. Johnston McMaster of the Irish School of Ecumenics, an inspiring and energising writer and speaker well-known to many in Fermanagh. There will be the opportunity for participants to share their insights in small workshops and open discussion, and the ethos of the event will be inclusive, respectful and positive.

All are very welcome to the conference, which begins and 10am and ends at 4pm, including lunch and refreshments. It is free of charge, but booking is necessary for catering purposes: please contact Eileen Gallagher at eccgallagher@yahoo.co.uk by Monday 19th September.


Johnston writes:

The day conference is a partnership between the Fermanagh Churches Forum and the local District Council. The Community Relations Week theme will be explored in a much wider context than Northern Ireland. There is a formidable challenge to building a future after the European referendum. What kind of future do we build in the context of Brexit? All has changed and no one really knows what will change in the years ahead for Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the European Union. And the future will be built in a world of geopolitical change, tectonic shifts, with the West in decline and the East on the rise.

Brexit is not the game changer but one of the symptoms of a Europe which is no longer a world power, shaping the politics and economics of the planet, and of a US no longer sure of its place in the world, a superpower on the way down. For the West it is a disturbing time with neonationalism and narrow ethnocentrism on the increase, and the desire for hard borders and building of walls.

The Conference will try to avoid a Northern Ireland focus turned in on itself, and to explore the building of the future within global horizons and citzenship. With the European Union under question there will be an exploration of the moral foundations of the EU, to curb excessive nationalism, outlaw war, a social justice basis and a peace and reconciliation praxis.

In the second session of the conference attention will be given to the global dynamic of Easternisation, with which we will increasingly live. The future is Asia and this will impact our politics, economics, culture and perception of ourselves as a people. In this context attention will be given to pooled sovereignty and the major global challenges which no single nation can resolve. The common good and global Citzenship will be explored and critical questions will be raised as to whether our past in Ireland and it’s competing ideologies are any longer relevant in a radically changing world. We may need new political and economic models.

Some brief attention will be given to a slogan that emerged from the heart of Europe 500 years ago next year : reformed, always to be reformed. It was and is more than a slogan, but a dynamic for continuous reform and renewal. Does this emphasis on continuous reform have implications for Brussels, London, Dublin and Belfast and their political and economic structures, systems and institutions? The conference may have more future questions than answers but hopefully a larger perspective on interconnectedness, global vision and citzenship, a shared humanness and neighbourliness, and a commitment to champion, nurture and struggle for our common, eco-human good.




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Forthcoming events

Conference, September 23rd, Killyhevlin Hotel

We have been very fortunate to receive support from Fermanagh and Omagh Council, allowing us to hold a conference on Friday September 23rd at the Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen (please note change of venue from previous years).

The title of the conference will be Together: Embracing And Celebrating Our Global Citizenship. The main speaker will be Dr Johnston McMaster and he will focus upon the issues of our future in the context of Brexit, the moral foundations of the European Union, the global challenges of ‘Easternisation’, the principle of the common good and the need for continuous reform.

Many, probably most of you will know Johnston and his inspiring, challenging and always enjoyable conversation. The conference will begin at 10am and finish at 4pm, with lunch included. It is free of charge but booking is essential for catering purposes: please contact Eileen Gallagher  by Monday 19th September.



Seminars, October 6th – November 3rd

Our series of Autumn Seminars, again with Dr Johnston McMaster, will continue this year with the theme of What does it mean to be truly human? These will take place on Thursday evenings from 8pm until 10pm, beginning on October 6th and running until November 3rd. The venue this year is the Riverview Room of the Bridge Centre (the hall at the Presbyterian Church) East Bridge Street, Enniskillen. The seminars are free of charge and all are very welcome.



AGM, November 17th

Our AGM is planned this year for the evening of Thursday 17th November, at the Bridge Centre, with guest speaker Dr Gladys Ganiel, whose new book, Transforming Post-Catholic Ireland, includes a chapter about the Fermanagh Churches Forum.



Faith and Friendship, beginning September 14th

The Faith and Friendship group, an interdenominational Bible study, fellowship and prayer gathering, sharing the reflections of Rev. Ruth Patterson, will meet on Wednesday 14th September from 12.30 to 2pm, in St Michael’s Parish Centre, and subsequently on 12th October, 9th November and 7th December. All are very welcome. Tea and coffee will be provided – please bring your own sandwiches!

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Lenten lunches, beginning 17th February, and Faith & Friendship, 9th March

800px-Illuminated.bible.closeup.arpOn Wednesday 17th February we are holding the first of this year’s Lenten lunches from 12.45 to 2pm in St Macartin’s Church of Ireland Cathedral Hall. As in previous years, we will share a simple lunch, provided by the church community, followed by Scripture reflection and prayer. There is no entrance charge but a collection will be taken for Christian Aid and Trócaire. Further Lenten lunches will be held in Enniskillen as follows, all on Wednesdays from 12.45 to 2pm.

24th February – the Bridge Centre at the Presbyterian Church

2nd March – McArthur Hall, Enniskillen Methodist Church, Wesley Street entrance

16th March – to be announced (led by a representative from St Michael’s Catholic Church).

On 9th March all are invited to join the Faith & Friendship group which will be meeting in the Bridge Centre from 12.30 to 2pm. Tea and coffee will be provided but please bring your own lunch for this event.

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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

“Salt of the Earth.” This familiar yet challenging phrase is the theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, celebrated from 18th to 25th January. What does it mean for Christians today to be salt and light in the world, and how does it affect the ways that we communicate, serve and worship together?

For many years the Fermanagh Churches Forum has coordinated a service in Enniskillen to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. At first this was held in neutral, secular venues, but recently it has rotated among four Presbyterian, Church of Ireland, Methodist and Catholic churches in the town centre.

This year the service will be hosted by Enniskillen Presbyterian Church on Thursday 21st January, beginning at 7.30pm. Everyone, from all churches or none, is warmly invited to an inspiring evening of shared prayer, reflection and music.

Lay people young and old, from different Christian traditions, will take part in the service, which is this year based upon material prepared by Christians from Latvia, and the guest preacher will be the Rev. Linda Keys. After the service, tea and coffee will be served in the Bridge Centre, giving the congregation the opportunity to share socially as they have in their worship.

The Fermanagh Churches Forum is a group of Christian believers in the Fermanagh area who seek to promote reconciliation in the community and among the churches. New members, of all ages and from all backgrounds, are always very welcome. For more information about the Forum’s work and its past and forthcoming events, please visit www.fermanaghchurchesforum.org or telephone the secretary, Tanya Jones, on 07873344811.

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Vigil for Survival


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Seminar series

Are we still up for the challenge of reconciliation? Seventeen years on from the
hope-filled Belfast Agreement, things have changed for the better, but we remain a
society limping from one crisis to another. Our political inability to deal with the
past and with sectarianism leaves us prisoners of our history and culture. We still
share no vision of a common good and no clear path into the future.
Faith communities are an integral part  our struggles towards recnciliation and,
we must admit, part of their failures. We feel disheartened and disillusioned by yet
another crisis in what feels like an endless stream of the same.
But ‘crisis’ in the language of the Christian gospel means judgment and also
opportunity. Are people of faith still able to honour their long-term commitment to
reconciliation, to renew their vision and active engagement?
A new five-part course in Enniskillen, facilitated by the well-known and popular Dr.
Johnston McMaster, will be exploring these questions. Organised by the Fermanagh
Churches Forum and supported by the Community Relations Council, the course will
begin this Thursday, 5th November, at 8pm in the Waterways Ireland headquarters
on the Sligo Road.
All are very welcome, entrance is free, including refreshments, and there is no need to book.

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We will be holding our AGM this Thursday (29th October) at 8pm at the Bridge Centre, Enniskillen (the hall at the Presbyterian church on East Bridge Street).

The guest speakers for the evening will be Susanne Downey of the Trussell Trust, which runs a network of food banks across the UK,



and Jonathan Hayward of Christians Against Poverty, which works through local churches to help people suffering from poverty and debt.



All are very welcome, entrance is free, including refreshments, and there is no need to book. We look forward to seeing you there.

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Omagh Churches Forum Conference


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Conference: A Bridge Between Two Distinct Worlds

Pont génois de Pianella, Ota, Corse-du-Sud, France

Myrabella / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Fermanagh Churches Forum (in association with Fermanagh and Omagh Council)

  Venue: Manor House Hotel Enniskillen

Date: September 29th 2015

10.00am – 4. 00pm


‘A Bridge Between Two Distinct Worlds: Remembering the Past and Looking towards the Future’.

A day conference exploring how we can remember the two crucial events of 1916, the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme. The focus is less on history and more on how we use memory. It will look at the limitations of re-enactment, the paradoxes of memory, what we forget to remember, how we honour the dead without glorifying violence and how we take our own responsibility for building a different future without being controlled by voices from the grave. The exploration will bring ethics and memory together and build a bridge between two very distinct worlds, the past and the present/future.

10.00am – 10.25am        Registration – Tea / coffee on arrival

10.30am                           Welcome

10.40am – 11.10am       Dr. Johnston McMaster: ‘The Challenge to Ethically Remember in 2016’

11.10am – 12.00 noon  Interactive Group Discussion

12noon – 12.45pm        Questions and Answers. Facilitated Plenary Discussion  

12.45pm   – 1. 45pm      Lunch

1.45pm – 2.15pm           Dr. Johnston McMaster: ‘god and Nationalism: The Abuse of the Sacred in  

                                           War and Violence’              

2.15pm – 3.00pm          Interactive Group Discussion

3.00pm – 3.40pm        Questions and Answers. Facilitated Plenary Discussion

3.40pm – 4.00pm         A Way Forward for 2016?

4.00pm Closing Reflection


This conference is free of charge and open to everyone, but pre-booking is essential for catering purposes.  Please email me at info@fermanaghchurchesforum.org on or before Thursday 24th September.



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