For 120 years, the Methodist Church in Abbey Street has been welcoming, serving and supporting people in inner-city Dublin. Known as Dublin Central Mission, this church is passionate about meeting the needs of its diverse neighbourhood.
Thousands of people live within a half-mile radius of the building, providing opportunities to build community and to connect with people from the homeless to young professionals working in the offices nearby. Today, the building looks out on the hub of the Luas network, set to become the junction between the capital’s Green and Red transport lines.
New minister Rev Laurence Graham [Ed: VOX readers may recall Laurence talking about his previous ministry in Cork and Kerry] described DCM as “a scruffy, well-used place but a ‘heartsome,’ homely place, which people love.”
On a Sunday, Abbey Street Methodist Church is a vibrant multi-ethnic congregation of Christians from all over the city who gather to worship God. For many folks who have arrived in Ireland from difficult situations in their home country, DCM has become like a family. Laurence believes that the unity between different nationalities is a beautiful picture of the power of the Gospel and an example of what God can do in other parts of Ireland - uniting local people with the “new Irish” who have made their home here.
Throughout the week, the centre is a hive of activity. It is home to a huge number (around 25) of self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous, along with a drop-in coffee morning, dance classes and a weekly Healing Service, to mention just a few. Four nights a week, volunteers from the church go out to provide soup, sandwiches and warm clothing for homeless people in the Abbey Street area.
Tucked away in an odd corner of the building (and there are many of those) is a clothing store used to provide practical help for the homeless or for others who are in need. And upstairs, a long row of second-hand books raises much-needed funds for an orphanage and other overseas mission projects.
There is also another, perhaps lesser-known side to the work of DCM - caring for the elderly through two sheltered housing units and a high-dependency nursing home, focusing on dementia care.
The units cater for 130 residents aged from 65 to 102! With 60 members of staff, the centres provide a wonderful sense of community. The two sheltered housing complexes help ensure independent living for residents but in a caring and supportive environment.
Looking to the future
“We are hoping to refurbish the Abbey Street building to improve accessibility and the welcome people receive,” Laurence said. “When you walk in the front door at the moment, all you see is a door and the stairs. You would not necessarily even know it is a church.”
With the upheaval of the Luas extension, work has been delayed, but Laurence hopes this will give time to consider the best options for the church.
“At the moment, we are trying to strengthen links between all the different parts of our ministry. On Sunday in our prayers, we are remembering the work with the homeless and the leftovers from the sheltered housing are being used to make soup for the homeless as well,” Laurence said.
“I heard a sermon 20 years ago from Donald English, a former president of the Methodist Church in Britain. He said, ‘If you read the Gospels, when Jesus went into a crowd, the crowd became a gathering of individuals because each person felt they had an individual encounter with Him. Jesus never did crowds.’
“We strive to follow Jesus’ model of mission and treat people as individuals, whether it is someone attending AA, a Filipino nurse who has just arrived in Ireland, or an elderly person suffering from Alzheimer’s.”
“When I started coming here, the word ‘humble’ came to mind. This congregation is working away quietly and consistently to help, not just those who need it, but those who need it the most.”
Find out more about the work of DCM at their new website, www.DublinCentralMission.ie.