St Anne’s Cathedral shone brightly this week – carrying the church’s message of hope that it remains there ‘for you’.
The Down and Dromore diocese initiative for the new year follows twelve months of continuous prayer in 2014.
At the launch of the outreach programme on New Year’s Eve, the famous Belfast landmark served as a messageboard, with the floodlit logo: “mission 2015 - for you”.
As part of the outreach programme, banners will be displayed throughout the diocese as a reminder that the church remains “not just for ourselves but for the people God has called us to serve”.
In his address at a special New Year’s Eve service, Bishop Miller said Down and Dromore has been “preparing for mission” for 18 months, and that the ‘for you’ logo has a clear message.
“‘For you’ is a declaration that the church is here not for the sake of itself, but for the sake of the outsider,” he said.
“The church does not primarily exist for itself or, like a club, for its members – it exists to transform the world, and especially the community in which it is set, for Jesus Christ. Archbishop William Temple famously put it like this: ‘The church is the only society on earth that exists for the benefit of its non-members’,” Bishop Miller added.
During 2014, the bishop visited all 80 of the church parishes to support them in their 8,760-hour prayer relay marathon.
The diocese has also launched a microsite, www.churchforyou.org to allow people to connect with local churches and “to be impacted by stories of faith”.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has urged local communities to do more to combat human trafficking.
At a service to mark the World Day of Peace in the city, he said it was difficult to establish the scale of the “hidden” problem, but added: “We must be very clear: human trafficking is a real problem in Ireland today.”
He questioned how people could tolerate trafficking – which often takes place for sexual exploitation – and said: “Many of those who are trafficked and who live in small Irish communities feel trapped in a world which is heavily controlled. There are many ways in which local communities can help identify these people who want to free themselves but are fearful of those who manage them.”