For over 50 years in the region of 4,000 children, young people, and families have benefited annually from the ministry of Scripture Union Ireland. Many people’s lives and faith have been positively influenced and shaped through experiences on camps and from retreats in schools. Many children and young people have developed positive relationships, grown in their Christian faith and have returned as team members and leaders of our activities. We want to see this kind of impact continue for a long time to come and ensure that more and more children and young people throughout Ireland have the opportunity to experience God and to encounter Him in the Scriptures.
Scripture Union is an interdenominational Christian movement. It is a non-profit organisation and a registered Irish Charity (RCN 20204664). While an autonomous movement we are privilege to also be part of an international organisation with a significant history in evangelisation amongst children and young people, creating lifelong disciples, developing leadership skills for life, and of course encouraging people of all ages to meet God through bible reading and prayer . As we work out these principles we seek to do so in partnership with all Christian denominations, churches and parishes as we engage in the following activities:
- Residential Retreats, Camps & Outdoor Pursuits
- Holiday activities
- School Retreats in Secondary Schools
- Developing and supporting faith formation initiatives in Parishes and Primary Schools
- Distribution of Scripture-based resources for Schools, Churches, Children and Youth Ministries.
- Training and Development
In accordance with our basis of faith we seek to promote Christian character and values and encourage a healthy lifestyle through participation in our activities. Our hope is that all who participate in our activities will grow in their Christian faith and so become committed church members and servants to a world in need. Our key resources are a small number of dedicated staff and a large number of equally committed volunteers from many different Christian backgrounds. The organisation is directed by a Governing Council and led on a day-to-day basis by the current General Director, Jim Donnan.
Scriptural, Relational, Collaborative, Relevant and Quality
Scripture Union is an organisation comprising individuals from a wide range of Christian backgrounds, both staff and volunteers, but who hold to common understandings and beliefs about faith, the importance of frequent reading of the Scriptures with Prayer, and ways of interacting with children, young people, their families, the church, and other organisations. As part of the worldwide family of movements and a group of individuals we choose to uphold the International Aims, Beliefs and Working Principles of Scripture Union. However our values are an Irish expression of these, and define our uniqueness. The practice of our ministry is influenced by these values and the culture and context in which we operate. The Scripture Union ethos can be summarised in the following words and value statements:
SCRIPTURAL: We are advocates for Biblical understanding and accept its teaching and guiding principles, which when prayerfully enacted, are inherent in all we plan and do. A developed and mature Christian faith requires knowledge of the scriptures. We are therefore committed to helping people open and engage with the Scriptures for themselves in life changing ways, appropriate to age and context.
RELATIONAL: As God loves people, so shall we, building relationships that are more than superficial as the starting place for sharing faith. We want faith to be discovered in the context of caring relationships. We are concerned about the pastoral care and development of our staff and volunteers, who are a part of the Scripture Union family worldwide. We value the whole person made in the image of God – spiritual, physical, emotional, social, mental, without prejudice to race, age, and social class or denominational background. We operate in a spirit of respect for all churches and fellowships. We place great importance on parents as the first teachers of the faith and fully respect that role in our evangelisation with children and youth.
COLLABORATIVE: We work to build a partnership between a small number of staff and a much larger number of volunteers. We are committed to and dependent on equipping and enabling people across all the denominations to do what God has called them to do. We therefore strive to work in partnership with churches and parishes and other Christian agencies. With do this in a spirit of service and support and demonstrating good practice and by training volunteers into effective servant leaders for ministry to children and young people. A good example of this intentional collaboration has been the Luke the Book Project in partnership with the National Bible Society of Ireland. Some 140,000 primary aged children received copies of this colourful and engaging CEV version of Luke’s Gospel. A DVD version with animated lessons was subsequently produced. In partnership with the Catholic Diocese of Dublin during the Year of Evangelisation in 2010 some 20,000 copies were produced and distributed free to children in parishes.
RELEVANT: We work to impact children and young people in the context of the Irish culture with the gospel in ways that are transformative and respectful, always acknowledging our dependence on God and prayer for the gifts to engage in mission. We seek especially through our school retreats and ministry to share the Christian faith in contemporary ways that are relevant to the needs of young people.
QUALITY: We strive for the highest standards and effectiveness in our evangelisation, equipping, publicity, and administration. Our staff are encouraged to continue their personal development and learning while exploring current issues and trends in society, while nurturing a sense of adventure that enables all round growth. Reflecting the attitude of Christ is always our goal.
1867 Josiah Spiers started “Special Services” for children in Islington, London. “Special Services” had an informal, friendly atmosphere, lively chorus singing and exciting talks with visual aids. This was a completely new approach to work with children. This idea grew rapidly to become the Children’s Special Service Mission (or C.S.S.M.). While on summer holiday at Llandudno beach, North Wales, Josiah drew the Bible text: “GOD IS LOVE” in the sand for children to decorate. The enthusiastic response of the children started the first of many missions to children and families.
1879 The first an annual card of daily Bible readings was published for children. On April 1, the Scripture Union was launched to encourage children, and later adults, to read the Bible daily. This has been called “the best thing to happen on April Fools’ Day!” The idea spread very rapidly. Ten years later there were 470,000 cards printed in 28 languages in many different countries. Later the name Scripture Union (S.U.) was adopted for the whole organisation.
1896 Greystones, Co Wicklow Ireland, where the Irish ministry of Scripture Union was born – then known as the Greystones CSSM it became an annual event, continuing to the present time. Some 400 children, young people and families from the local area and beyond attend this mission.
Late 1960’s/70’s interest in Scripture Union work had grown significantly resulting in the London Council of Scripture Union forming an Advisory Committee (1970) to oversee the work.
Then in 1972 this Committee was encouraged during a visit of Mr Nigel Sylvester, General Director of SU England and Wales, with a vision of a full time staff worker.
1976 Kingsley Prescott was appointed as the first paid ‘Travelling Secretary’ and pioneered the work of the movement.
1978 Ovoca Manor in Avoca, Co Wicklow was acquired in trust for the sum of £1 to be developed as a Christian Adventure centre under the terms that it should be used ‘for the spiritual and moral development of young people’.
1980 May 9th, Scripture Union Republic of Ireland was established as an autonomous movement by agreement with the British and Irish Regional Council.
1981 Scripture Union book centre at Northumberland Avenue, Dun Laoghaire, was opened.
1985 The appointment of the first schools worker signalled the exciting work in secondary schools around Ireland.
1988 A full retail Bookshop is established at 87 Lr. Georges St., Dun Laoghaire.
1991 A further retail outlet at 40/41 Talbot St, Dublin is opened.
2006 Scripture Union Ireland goes online with our first web presence and online Camp Booking.
2008 A Bookshop is opened in Cork City. Scripture Union provides financial support.
2010 Our first full-time Primary School’s Worker is appointed.
2010 Dun Laoghaire Bookshop is relaunched under independent ownership.
2010 A €1.6 million investment in the extension and development of Ovoca Manor. This was possible through the amazing generosity of many people and a significant anonymous donation of €1 million!
2010 Camp Volunteering goes online.
2012 Talbot Street Bookshop is relaunched under independent ownership.
The Board (or Council) consists of voluntary non-paid members and exists primarily to safeguard the Vision, Aims and Values, as well as the governance and financial probity of the organisation.
GENERAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF COUNCIL INCLUDE
- To ensure that the Aims, Beliefs and Working Principles of Scripture Union are applied across all aspects of the movement.
- To create, monitor and review Policies to govern organisational activities. This includes legal Personnel Policies for selection, recruitment, remuneration, dismissal, grievance and discipline.
- To elect and appoint non-staff members as Trustees who assume legal responsibility for Scripture Union, the registered Charity.
- To approve, review and ensure progress in implementing/fulfilling the objectives of the movements Strategic Plan.
- To ensure accountability & transparency in relation to compliance with Charities Legislation, Revenue, Health and Safety, Child Protection and other statutory obligations. This accountability extends to supporters, staff, volunteers and the general public through the publication of reports and annual accounts.
- To maintain fiscal oversight and compliance for effectively managing the movements resources. This includes monitoring income and expenditure, approving annual financial statements and budgets, ensuring adequate insurance cover from liability, determining appropriate level of risk and monitor risk carefully and ensuring legal compliance.
- To actively encourage financial support through fundraising or pledge of support
- To acquire, maintain, lease or dispose of property on behalf of the movement
- To promote and extend the ministry of Scripture Union and to enhance, protect the reputation of the movement.
- To set and maintain the Vision of the movement by discerning God’s leading and guiding and guarding the movement’s ethos and values.
- To maintain effective performance of the Council through prayerful reflection before making decisions and ensuring productive and constructive meetings.
- To give direction, guidance, moral support and encouragement to the General Director and the staff. At the same time Council and Trustees recognise, respect and support the General Director in his management role in day to day matters concerning staff and operational matters.
- To seek God’s blessing and protection on the ministry through regular prayer.