Finding Faith 2019: DAY SEVEN

Tuesday 7 May

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From 1 - 8 May, VOX magazine editor Ruth Garvey-Williams is travelling all over Ireland, hunting down stories of faith, life and reality. As she zig-zags her way across the country, her daily blogs will capture a few highlights with stories of the inspirational people she meets and some of her adventures along the way. During this epic road trip, Ruth is counting the number of election posters she passes (highlighting plastic waste) - and VOX magazine is running a competition to see who can guess the number (post your guess on the VOX social media pages or email info@vox.ie for your chance to win the prize!)

Day Seven: Dublin to Castleblaney via Dundrum, Bray and Monaghan

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Dundrum Methodist Church, Dublin

It’s the final full day of the tour and I’m feeling it! But I enjoy a lovely start to the day, having breakfast with my daughter before heading over to Dundrum Methodist Church where I’m to meet up with the Mainly Music team. This fun music and movement programme for pre-school children and their parents and carers was developed in New Zealand in 1990.

It’s brilliant to watch Linda, Jane and the team in action as they teach simple songs and rhymes with actions that encourage the children and adults to join in. The programme is educational (counting skills, coordination, etc.) but it also provides the opportunity to make new friends and interact with one another over a healthy snack and a cuppa. Two other Dublin churches run Mainly Music and there are a whole host of resources available on www.mainlymusic.org.

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While I’m in the building, I notice a group of people in red T shirts, who are coming and going carrying boxes of food. Ever nosy, I discover that these are volunteers who run a Community Food Bank out of Dundrum Methodist Church every Tuesday morning in partnership with the charity Crosscare. I call in to see the team who are happy to show me around and explain their work. Here in Dundrum, they provide food parcels for up to 30 families each week who have been referred to them by the local SVP. Even in a relatively comfortable area such as this, there are families feeling the pinch and this lifeline can make a huge difference. The team are always looking for new volunteers to help out on a Tuesday morning and donations of food are always welcome - contact info@dundrummethodist.com for more details.

Praxis Press and Praxis

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From Dundrum, I head over to Bray where I’m to meet Fraser Hosford, pastor of Dublin West Community Church and one of the founders of the Praxis conference (exploring mission in contemporary Ireland). I’m here to chat with Fraser about a new project “Praxis Press.”

In our ever-changing landscape, the Praxis team wanted to give voice to Irish Christians who are engaging within our unique context by publishing books, which explore ideas, theological reflections and the stories of ordinary yet courageous Christians who are re-imagining mission for today’s Ireland.

A successful kickstarter has already raised €5,000 for this exciting vision, which resonates with our own vision at VOX - for those that don’t know, VOX magazine is named for Vox Hibernia (the voice of the Irish). With the kickstarter finance, Praxis Press hopes to produce three books over the next three years. Over lunch, Fraser shares some of the early plans and ideas. Watch this space!

After lunch, I head to a nearby home where I’ve been asked to record a short video for this weekend’s Praxis conference. While I’ll be sad not to be there, it is lovely to share some of this week’s stories to inspire conversation and spark ideas! (Okay, that’s the positive bit but seriously… whose idea was it to film me when I’ve just been on the road for seven days?!! There will be dire consequences if those out-takes ever see the light of day!!)

ChristianBooks.ie, Bray, Co Wicklow

As I’m in the neighbourhood and on the subject of books, I take the opportunity to call over to Julie Carvill of ChristianBooks.ie who writes our quarterly book reviews for VOX magazine. It is lovely to meet up in person again after several years and Julie shows me the lovely bookshop in a small room at the end of her garden. There’s a great selection and it’s lovely to see copies of VOX magazine on display as well! Julie takes book tables to church events and conferences and she’s interested to hear plans for Praxis Press! We could chat for much longer but the road is calling. I tear myself away, conscious of growing exhaustion as I climb behind the wheel one more time.

Frowning clouds seem appropriate as I hit the inevitable M50 traffic jam. I finally reach Monaghan, just a few minutes after 7pm and I’m so grateful for the warm welcome and a cup of coffee!

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Hope, Crown Jesus Ministries, Monaghan

I visited the Hope café a few years ago and it is great to hear that Crown Jesus is now running this inter-denominational centre in the heart of Monaghan. The team is setting up for an Alpha Course that is due to start at 7.30pm this evening and there is a delicious aroma coming from the kitchen area.

In our short time together, Hope workers Claire and Josh along with volunteers Gayle (a familiar face from a previous Finding Faith Tour) and Marion, share stories of some of their projects. A weekly food bank, an after-school youth programme and a daytime drop in centre provide opportunities to serve the community and build relationships.

It is a flying visit but I’m thrilled to see that Hope is going strong and Josh has promised to send some more news my way in time for our July issue of the magazine (I’ll be waiting for your email, Josh!).

(Left to right) Gayle, Claire, Josh and Marion at Hope, Monaghan

(Left to right) Gayle, Claire, Josh and Marion at Hope, Monaghan

I’m staying in Castleblaney this evening and so I head back, battling waves of exhaustion but so humbled and grateful as I near the end of another Finding Faith Tour. In the morning, I’ll head straight home for a much-needed rest. But for now - Oíche mhaith!