Lessons from 1953
One of my favourite new sections in the Herald is ‘In this month…’ I find it fascinating to look back into the archives of the magazine, and whilst some articles reflect the massive shifts in our society over the years, many others would suggest that not much has changed at all. This edition we look back to June 1953.
June is the month for our Church to meet together for its annual General Assembly, where the business of the denomination will be debated and decided upon. This year the format and timing of the Assembly will be up for discussion – something that we can see was also debated in 1953 and probably several times since.
It is right that as a Church we can discuss and re-discuss a wide range of issues, recognising that it is good to question, take stock, assess and, as this special anniversary year of the Reformation reminds us – we are ‘reformed and always reforming’. The democratic nature of our Church was something that was highlighted to me during a recent visit to Maynooth Presbyterian. On being asked what she liked about the church, one member mentioned the AGM and the fact that everyone in the congregation has a voice – something that perhaps many of us take for granted.
Whilst its Presbyterian tag can be refreshing for some in Maynooth, for others it is a barrier, unfortunately having sectarian or anti-Catholic associations. Therefore, like many congregations in the south, this poses difficulties in ministry. However, God is still working powerfully despite this. Minister, Keith McCrory, says, “People aren’t interested in becoming Presbyterian, but they are interested in Jesus.”
Maynooth is an exciting congregation to visit – its people are warm, Spirit-filled and eager to grow deeper in their faith. As they reach out in love to the community around them, there is a strong focus on discipleship.
Discipleship is something we will hear a lot more of from our incoming Moderator, Rev. Noble McNeely, who has chosen as his theme for the year, ‘Everyday discipleship’. In this edition, we find out more about our Moderator-designate through his interview with BBC reporter Mark Simpson, including his hopes and plans for the year ahead.
Being a disciple requires dedication and sacrifice. There is no short cut to growing in our faith; we simply need to commit to spending time with God – reading His Word and praying. Back in 1953 this was no different. In an extract from a Herald article on training Sunday school teachers the following advice is given: “There must be a continual seeking after a deeper knowledge of God and of God’s will for us.”
Wise words for any Christian, at any stage in history.
The Presbyterian Herald is the official magazine of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. It provides a forum for debate and discussion on a wide range of topics and aims to challenge and encourage Presbyterians, as well as inform them about what the wider Church is involved in. It has a readership in excess of 25,000 and is distributed throughout Ireland.
To find out more go to www.presbyterianireland.org/herald