Larne clergy come together and ‘Dare To Hope’

Pictured at the launch of the Dare To Hope project in Larne Town Hall are (back row l- r) Archdeacon Stephen Forde, the parish of St Cedma's; Rev Tommy Stevenson, Larne Methodist circuit; Fr Aiden Kerr, Larne Catholic parish; Capt Sue Whitla, Larne Salvation Army; Rev Dr Colin McClure, First Larne Presbyterian; (front row l-r) consultant Kevin McCaughan; Larne Mayor, Cllr Maureen Morrow; and East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson. INLT 41-685-CON
Pictured at the launch of the Dare To Hope project in Larne Town Hall are (back row l- r) Archdeacon Stephen Forde, the parish of St Cedma's; Rev Tommy Stevenson, Larne Methodist circuit; Fr Aiden Kerr, Larne Catholic parish; Capt Sue Whitla, Larne Salvation Army; Rev Dr Colin McClure, First Larne Presbyterian; (front row l-r) consultant Kevin McCaughan; Larne Mayor, Cllr Maureen Morrow; and East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson. INLT 41-685-CON

Clergy from five local churches have joined forces to spearhead an innovative new project aimed at improving the lives of Larne residents.

The Dare To Hope project is the brainchild of Archdeacon Stephen Forde, the parish of St Cedma’s; Father Aiden Kerr, Larne Catholic parish; Rev Dr Colin McClure, First Larne Presbyterian; Rev Tommy Stevenson, Larne Methodist circuit; and Captain Sue Whitla of Larne Salvation Army.

The five clergy are seeking to work collectively for the benefit of Larne and want to play a more active role in tackling pressing local issues such as social and economic deprivation, sectarianism and many others.

To that end, they have pooled their resources and utilised funding from the NE PEACE III Partnership to commission a feasibility study into how they can best contribute to the local community.

And the report, which was officially unveiled at an event in the Town Hall, sets out the vision for the project, based on consultation with a wide range of people within the town.

The clergy’s initial proposal to establish a shared physical space in the centre of Larne to address the needs of the community received little support, with those consulted believing there was already sufficient community venues in the town.

Taking on board this feedback, the clergy now plan to commission a detailed audit to map out all current service provision in Larne, with a view to identifying any potential gaps in need. This audit would be funded by the Irish Churches Peace Project.

It is also hoped that funding will be secured to appoint a dedicated worker to help forge links between existing services and help fill any gaps in service provision.