In 2012, Hazel began work as a Deaconess at First Broughshane Presbyterian Church in County Antrim.
On leaving school, she trained as a nurse. She is married to Alan and they have two children. Hazel and Alan travelled to Malawi where Hazel worked at Ekwendeni Hospital and later served with SIM in Niger from 2002 to 2004.
On returning home she completed the Women’s Study Fellowship course at Belfast Bible College and was given many opportunities to serve in her home congregation of Buckna Presbyterian. Hazel applied for Deaconess training and served her probationary period in Kells and Eskylane Presbyterian Churches.
As I look back over 2016 I am so thankful to God for His strength and enabling. To be truthful, as I looked toward this time of vacancy for our congregation, it was with apprehension; how were we going to cope without a minister? As is often the case, it’s on looking back that we see God’s hand and help as well as His strength and guidance in all things.
2016 has been another busy year with my usual role in pastoral visiting – in nursing and residential homes as well as hospital and to people in their own homes. I continue to teach GB scripture, and am involved in small groups and Wednesday Friends. I also seek to encourage and inspire as well as inform prayer through the monthly Prayer Diary. My husband and I continue to lead the youth on alternative Sunday evenings and are encouraged by the small number of faithful young people who come and are being built up in their faith. I’ve been involved again this year with the SU Amazing Jesus and It’s Your Move programmes in Broughshane Primary School. Whilst it’s always a challenge, it’s a privilege getting to know the pupils, as well as the staff, and to bring God’s Word to them.
This year our congregation has been supporting the work of the Ballymena Foodbank. It has been great to see so many people give so generously to this work, contributing to those who lack the basic necessities of life in our area. As always, I try to encourage a ‘looking outwards’ as well as ‘upwards’ and it lifts my heart to see many get involved in this. A real blessing to me personally has been my involvement in a small prayer triplet; this enables me to share and pray and has been a real source of God’s help and support over this past year of vacancy. I would love to see prayer triplets formed throughout the whole congregation.
I also commenced a Diploma in Counselling course which I hope to complete in 2017. It has helped me a lot and has been a real benefit as I seek to help people during pastoral visitation.
At the time of writing this report (February 2017) we are looking forward in God’s will to calling a new minister to First Broughshane. It’s an exciting time as a new chapter opens for the congregation in 2017.
I began this report with looking back over 2016 but I truly believe we should only give a small glance backwards in order to remember God’s goodness and faithfulness. Our main focus should be concentrating on moving forwards towards the “new thing” God has planned for us and for His Church.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! (Isaiah 43:18-19a)