By Gordon Nary
Gordon: As part of our interfaith outreach. I appreciate the opportunity of interviewing you. When were you appointed Methodist Chaplain to Trinity College, Dublin, and what are your primary responsibilities?
Jools: Thank you Gordon, and it is good to share.
I have been in situ for a decade now in Trinity college Dublin. As Methodist chaplain I am part of a four person Ecumenical Chaplaincy team – 2 Roman Catholic priests, an Anglican priest, who along with myself oversee the spiritual life of campus and endeavors to be light and life to the university.
All of the traditions have their own religious worship experiences happening on campus, as well as many shared activities. Everything from traditional mass, through to organised conversations in the college bar happen, alongside regular pastoral care and spiritual direction. There really are no two days that are the same!
Gordon: Approximately what percent of Ireland is Methodist?
Jools: In Ireland there are only around 50 000 Methodists. Worldwide there are 80 million of us – so Irish Methodists have a lot of cousins around the globe!
Gordon: You are Co-Founder and CEO of The Good Summit. What is the mission of The Good Summit?
Jools: The Good Summit exists to celebrate and cultivate the good wherever it may be found. We are an event based movement to help make the world more socially responsible and relationally reasonable. We gather together people from business, health, education, faith, leadership and activist networks who are cultivating the seeds to help bring goodness and health to how the world works. We desire to see goodness and fairness and compassion and sustainability become the basis of this western worldview, and desire to do what we can to foster better connections and conversations between the different avenues of our common society.
Gordon: You are also the Founder & Director Youthspirit. What is the mission of Youthspirit?
Jools: That one is a little easier to answer! The Methodists in Ireland only offer my position as a part time position, and hence, outside of semester in Trinity College, I travel widely to lead retreats, speak at churches and events and basically do whatever I can do maintain a life of meaning and transformation. Youthspirit is the company formed that holds together everything I do outside the college semester.
At the moment, Youthspirit (aside from my individual ministry commitments) centers on two other projects, both associated with building capacity for peace. ‘Space to Breathe’ brings together young adults from Ireland, Israel and Palestine in a human engagement program for people living in contested spaces. And ‘Peace Pilgrimages’ run a similar program for adults. These pilgrimages tour the Holy sites in Palestine and Israel but have an emphasis on meeting with different voices and experiences from the region when traveling. We will meet with a variety of Palestinians and Israelis affected by the occupation in Palestine, and endeavor to deepen the understanding of participants to the realities of living in the ‘Holy’ land in these turbulent and dangerous times.
Gordon: You have a strong interest in human rights, Where are we facing some of the greatest human rights abuses and what responsibilities do we all share in addressing them?
Jools: My interest in human rights comes directly from my faith. I am not someone who regularly follows Human Rights watch from the EU or similar, but am someone who regularly tries to let the stories of Jesus inform what I see everywhere I look and travel.
I think as I look around the world, that I see a world in the grey of a change of Age. We are moving from the Modern world into whatever comes next … be it post-Modern, the Age of Technology or whatever. It is a massive privilege to be alive in these days, to be able to seek the signs of the Spirit’s work and join with the Spirit in bringing forward an imagination of how the Church can be, and what the Church can be, for the Age after Christendom.
But all of this also means there is a lot of anxiety and factionalism apparent in our world. Globalization has made the world smaller, but we don’t yet have the capacity and leadership to help us imagine positive futures. People are intent to batten down the hatches and pretend the change will go away if it is ignored. But a new world is being created around us. All the while the anxiety present gives rise to protectionism, nationalism, political populism and insecurity in the world markets, and these traits then give rise to human rights abuses. We can recognise everything from suppression of voting rights around the globe, to the massive numbers of refugees, from violence against the created order to recent highlighting of the sexual violence against women, as examples of how this period of liminality is inviting humanity to be more fully human. Wherever human dignity is being suppressed, marginalized, ignored or trampled over, the Christian Church worldwide has a faithful duty to stand in solidarity for the sake of the Kingdom of Shalom and the Prince of Peace.
Gordon: You are a popular international speaker. Where have you presented in the past year and the topics that you addressed.
Jools: Oh that’s difficult? I’m not sure exactly of the topics I have been presenting on, but a large swathe of words in the areas of missional ecclesiology, leadership, peace-making and preaching through some beautiful passages from the Gospel of Luke all come to mind! I’m also aware that I have had to turn down invitations to Germany and Sweden in the last year, but, over the last 12 months I have opened the Bible, and/or led sessions across Ireland, in the UK, in Palestine and in Australia. Just as well I do enjoy traveling!
Gordon: Thank you for a great and insightful interview.