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February issue of Methodist Newsletter now published

The February issue of the Methodist Newsletter has just been published and is available for collection.

Contents Feb 18Cover Feb 18

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Our time is now……..

Usually the evening service in Mountmellick Methodist church on the Midlands and Southern District is a fairly quiet, traditional affair, but recently the service was given over to the young people of the church who completely transformed the occasion.  In the February issue of the Methodist Newsletter, Nigel Gill described the service.  Below is an extract of a description of the beginning of the service:

The church was dimly lit. The buzz of excitement, tangible, as extra folk had gathered. Coloured lights swirled around the room from strategically placed globes. The overhead and a lamp were the only source of ‘true’ light. Four large canvasses of beautiful artwork, produced by one of our members, hung on the church walls displaying the theme. There was a hush, no one had called time, it just happened. ‘Hi I’m B,’ came a slightly shaky, soft-spoken, voice from the semidarkness. ‘This is J and J.  We are the worship team for tonight. Now we will have worship.’ The music started to flow. Once B started singing, his confidence kicked in and we all sang our way through three opening songs. The singing was powerful.

It is amazing what can be done by a small group of people with vision and the courage to try new things!

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The art work

 

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – Methodist Lay Leader urges overcoming of sectarian divisions

Methodist Historical lecture Fergus

Dr Fergus O’Ferrall, the Lay Leader of the Methodist Church in Ireland, has urgedChristians from all denominations to ‘encounter those who differ from them’ and ‘break down enmity’.

Speaking at the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Darling Street Methodist church, Enniskillen, the Lay Leader reminded the congregation that ‘praying for the unity of the Church involves a recognition not only of the brokenness of Christian relationships but also of how injustice in the world at large rends asunder Christian communities and impedes our participation in God’s mission’.

Looking to Ireland and how the 20th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement was to be celebrated in April 2018, Dr O’Ferrall challenged the congregation to consider how they were joining with what God wished to do in their country and his world.

‘In all we attempt we should never underestimate the power of prayer to lift us out of our broken past into a new and shared future,’ he said. ‘Where do we pray together that God’s hand will lead us in 2018 in both Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland?

‘Surely it will be to a place where nothing obscures human dignity, where we are agents of justice in the world, where we love our neighbour and welcome the stranger; where we have a new spirit and a new heart so that we become servants of God’s peace, where we are one family in Christ, where we bring healing to the wounds and divisions that keep us apart, where we are freed from the selfishness, arrogance and fear that hinders the full visible unity of the Church of Jesus Christ.

‘Each denomination in the now divided Church of Jesus Christ has a clear and urgent responsibility to examine whether or how aspects of their theologies, traditions or practices contribute to sectarian divisions. It is these very sectarian divisions which, we must confess, in greater part underpin the divided identities and loyalties within the population of Northern Ireland. We must encounter those who differ from us – to break down the enmity. That is our challenge.’

In concluding his address, the Methodist Lay Leader said that the aspiration and prayer in this Week for Christian Unity must be one where ‘we are led by the right hand of God into a new and shared future and where together as the Church of Jesus Christ we witness to his great salvation to and for all people’.

 

A Church of resilience and hope

Elizabeth McWatters, MWI President, along with Mamie Davis and Louise Wilson,  recently went on a visit to the Methodist Church in Upper Myanmar (formerly Burma).  In the February issue of the Methodist Newsletter Elizabeth describes the visit, emphasising the friendliness of the people, their aspirations and their difficulties.  One of the most moving parts of her description is a visit to a leprosy village and there is a photograph of one man suffering from leprosy dressing the foot of another – a powerful picture:

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The thrill of mission

In his letter in the February issue of the Methodist Newsletter, The President, Laurence Graham, talks about the thrill of mission.  He had been up on the north coast visiting the Surf Project and felt that he really needed to experience the actual surf.  So, donning a wet suit and experiencing a few teething problems, he was able from time to time to experience being carried along by the waves and feeling the thrill that that gave him.  When the conditions were just right, Laurence and the wave were working in partnership. The same, he says, about doing mission with God.  We have the thrill of being in a partnership with God and being carried along by him.   We’re also in partnership with our fellow Christians all over the world and Laurence asks us in the New Year ‘be open to learning from them as we all partner together with God in his mission.’

President's letter

Jono Griffin and Laurence at the north coast.

 

January 2018 issue now available

The January 2018 issue of the Methodist Newsletter has just been published and is available for collection.

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The joys and challenges of ministry

 

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The Junior Ministers 2017

The Junior Ministers (in their first ten years of ministry) of the Methodist Church in Ireland met recently for their annual meeting.  Two of the presenters at the meeting were the Rev Dr Ken Wilson on the theme  of ‘The Challenge of Ministry’ and the Rev John Alderdice on the theme of ‘Tensions in Ministry’.  These were two very apposite subjects bearing in mind the results of a recent, short survey conducted by the Rev Ross Harte amongst Junior Ministers about the joys and challenges of their ministry.

 

From the survey, the most fulfilling aspect of ministry is leading worship and preaching (50%). Further satisfaction comes from leading people to Christ (27%), meeting people in their homes (23%) and walking with people through illness and death (23%). This suggests a strong link between the call to ministry and the desire to lead God’s people in worship and discipleship along with a compassionate drive to be with people in their difficult times.

Perhaps understandably, the challenge selected by most people was not having enough time to do everything they want (or are expected) to do (39%). Time pressures necessarily lead to the prioritisation of some aspects of ministry, which can lead to tension both internally and with other people. Loneliness (or not having any ‘real’ friends in the church) was the second most selected challenge (31%). Perhaps this is because ministers find themselves surrounded by people but unable to form deeper relationships that aren’t governed by an unwritten ‘pastor-client’ contract.

Every role comes with its joys and challenges, but at present it appears that some junior ministers might not be flourishing in the way we might hope. The Rev Harte suggests taking a moment to commit to praying daily for our ministers as they help the Church find its way through this season of anxiety and uncertainty.

A full account of the junior ministers’ meeting and the Rev Harte’s survey will be published in the January issue of the Methodist Newsletter.