Who we are
In this month of remembrance, when we mark the sacrifice of so many who have fought in the past, as well as those who fight today, to maintain our freedom and peace, it is significant to also remember the sacrifice of those in church history, who instigated reform and changed the way we worship today.
In the course of this 500th anniversary year of the Reformation, the Herald has already included several articles to mark this important event. This month we take stock of who we are as Presbyterians, in light of our Reformation celebrations. Betsy Cameron takes a look at what our Presbyterian identity means to us and reflects a range of views. She encourages us not to be indifferent about the denomination we have chosen to be part of, but rather to appreciate and understand its unique distinctiveness.
Rev. Norman Cameron challenges us to engage fully with our wider Presbyterian family. He says, “…we are becoming more congregationalist in our behaviour – and that’s the ministers and elders never mind the people in the pews.” Norman highlights many positive aspects of our denomination for us to contemplate further on.
The burning bush, which is essentially our logo, has the accompanying motto: Ardens sed virens (burning but flourishing). As we ask the crucial question of whether we are flourishing as a denomination, Lisa Skinner highlights three congregations who are reaching out to their communities in fresh ways. As they think outside the box and move beyond their comfort zones, they are recognising the potential of being bold in their witness and stepping out in faith.
It is important to look inward from time to time, assessing who we are and where we are going. In line with the Reformation’s mantra of “reformed and always being reformed”, we can move forward in confidence when we look back for reference.
A few years ago, Roger Courtney wrote a book, Dissenting Voices, which profiled 300 Presbyterians over four centuries, who were activists for positive change in their societies. In this age of secularism which holds many challenges for our Church, Roger’s words from the book strike a chord: “We seem to have a fundamental forgetfulness when it comes to the past. We do not celebrate those who have done great things, or try to learn from or be inspired by their example. And I think we do need some inspiration.”
Perhaps if we as a denomination can recapture our sense of Presbyterian identity, we can collectively be inspired to work together more effectively for the glory of God on this island.
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