Our story is long and varied. Suffice to say that both the Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland have appointed full time Chaplains to Queen’s University in Belfast for over half a century. In that time each has built up its profile and places of residency.
Historically the Church of Ireland Chaplaincy has occupied, and still occupies, Houses 16-22 on Elmwood Avenue, Belfast. Sitting adjacent to the residential and office space in House 22, the Church of the Resurrection and Oasis café offered a space for Anglican worship and ecumenical coffee over many years! Houses 24-26 are home to the Methodist Chaplaincy, with residency for both the Chaplain and students.
For many years there have been varying degrees of association and relationships between the two chaplaincies and indeed with other Chaplaincies based at Queen’s. Elmwood Avenue is also home to the Presbyterian and Roman Catholic Chaplaincies, and as such all four denominations have a full-time campus presence. Other denominations appoint Chaplains who are not full time but who represent their denomination on campus. The full list can be found here.
In recent years the four full time Chaplains have built up a working relationship and presence on campus, supporting the University and its students in a wide variety of ways. However, the Church of Ireland and Methodist Chaplaincies were seeking, in particular, to give greater expression to the Covenant that exists between both Churches. The Covenant was signed on 26th September 2002 and articulated a desire to work towards a fuller relationship between both churches. Specifically it committed both traditions “to share a common life and mission; and to grow together so that unity may be visibly realized”.
A wide and far ranging period of discussions and engagement has followed exploring a number of different options. Through prayer and reflection the stage has been reached in which both traditions realize the importance of seeing this unity worked out through mission and ministry between both Chaplaincies. The concept of The Hub Belfast was born. Since 2014, Revd Barry Forde has been officially recognised as the joint chaplain for both of our parent church traditions.
The Hub is at the centre of very many different lives. Some come to live with us, some to worship, some to eat. Others come for an event, or to use the venue for their organisation or group. Two traditions come together and a new expression of mission and worship emerges. The Hub acts as the focal point, networking lives, building them up and sending them out to a much wider and broader and greater circle of influence and service.
The path that lies ahead is an exciting one and we’re not sure where it will lead. Our hope is to walk it together as servants of Jesus Christ, ministers of the gospel, and as believers that what God has in store for us is much greater than all we could ever hope to ask or think…
Want to know more?
Our archives hold a physical collection of many documents and photographs which show the history of the chaplaincy up to the present day, and is available for public viewing. We love to welcome in former students, residents and families for a look around – everybody always wants to see if ‘their room’ has changed! Get in touch if you’d like a trip down memory lane.