Building Hope in Cork
On 22 November 2021, Matt Gould, along with evangelist Marian Edwards, was Commissioned as a Church Army Evangelist and Admitted into the Office of Evangelist. This has been a long-awaited event, as Matt lives in the Republic of Ireland so the COVID restrictions prevented him from being able to be at the Admitting and Commissioning service earlier in the year.
We caught up with Matt to find out about his training, ministry and the next step as Lead Evangelist at the newly launched Centre of Mission in Cork…
Ministry In Ballincollig
One of those evangelists is Valerie Thom, who heads up the Zacchaeus Outreach Project (ZOP) in the Diocese of Armagh in Northern Ireland. T
live in Ballincollig, a town of 18,500, and officially part of the city of Cork, in the south of the Republic of Ireland. I am based at the
Carraig Centre – a parish and community centre in the heart of the town which happily is only a 15 minute walk from my house.
I have been a part-time youth worker here in Carrigrohane Union of Parishes since 2007, and responsible for the team of volunteers who help to run various youth events such as Friday evening youth cafes, a Sunday evening faith/life Bible study and discussion group as well as heading up an older teenage leadership development course and general meetups with young people.
In recent years I have been involved with a new fresh expressions church service which aims to connect with young adults and upwards. The aim is to hold a service that does not assume pre-existing faith in those attending.
On the more practical side, I have been part of the vision, planning and design work for the Carraig Centre, which was a five-year project and completed in March 2020
Jesus as a Friend and King
Jesus said He has “come to bring life to the full” (John 10:10) and that “the way to the Father is through me” (John 14:6). I believe Him on both counts and love to see people, younger and older, come to know Jesus as a friend and king, as well as saviour. When wider cultural ‘head knowledge’ starts impacting the heart and life in ordinary and extra-ordinary ways, it is wonderful to see God at work in those times.
During my time training with Church Army to be Admitted and Commissioned as an Evangelist, God refined my sense of calling as an evangelist and in many ways worked to slow me down to ‘His unforced rhythms of grace’. Being commissioned means I am going forward with the prayerful support of the wider organisation. I also get a nice Church Army tie!
Now that I am commissioned, I am looking forward to these next few months to listen – to God, to community group leaders, to those ‘chance’ encounters, and to build up a picture of how we can best roll up our sleeves and serve the town in ways that will bring light, joy and life to others.
The Cork Centre of Mission
Ballincollig is a rapidly expanding ‘suburban town’ within the Cork city boundaries. Whilst Ireland is not as diverse as UK urban areas, the wider town of Ballincollig has seen growing numbers of Europeans and those from further afield in the last decade or so.
In the wider Cork area, housing is a big issue. In Ballincollig the wider infrastructure has not kept up pace with developers building houses, so schools and other services are stretched. One example is the lack of autism support within schools in the town, despite growing needs in this area.
Ballincollig also has a limited ‘sense of place’, with few physical meeting spaces outside the usual cafes and pubs.
The Cork Centre of Mission
Our tagline here at the Carraig Centre is ‘building hope together’, and really that’s our heart for this place – that it will be a vibrant
centre offering belonging, hope and God’s grace in the town.
We are currently running an Alpha course with a good number of participants which is really encouraging. Our Sunday service has grown since we have moved here, and we want to keep building on that, especially in terms of relationships and people getting to know and support one another – something that is still hard to do with COVID restrictions
If you’d like to support Matt’s ministry at our Cork Centre of Mission, please consider giving using any of the below methods.