Margaret has been serving as a Deaconess in Elmwood Presbyterian Church in Lisburn since November 2015. She helps at a weekly very busy Toddlers group and a weekly Young at Heart Group. She assists the minister in pastoral care duties and is involved in Home Group Bible Studies. She also helps to lead the community outreach and therefore is involved with different events related to the community.
Margaret grew up in Newcastle and she worked in Downpatrick’s Downe Hospital for 25 years, the last four part-time combined with studying for a BTh in Theology and Deaconess training at Union Theological College. Her placement during that year was in Woodvale Presbyterian Church and she went on to serve her probationary year in Ballylinney Presbyterian Church. Before serving in Elmwood she spent nine very happy years as Deaconess in Gardenmore Presbyterian Church in Larne.
When I consider the PW theme for this year, This is the day, and reflect over the past year, many different days with lots of different emotions and experiences come to the fore. The following highlights just some of these thoughts.
Days filled with encouragement: Since starting work in Elmwood just over two years’ ago, one of my greatest encouragements has been the team of volunteers I have the pleasure of working regularly with at the Toddlers Group, Young at Heart. Amazingly, in this past year when we have needed more help if someone has had to leave, someone else has been ready to take their place. During my first year in Elmwood I discovered I was to head up the annual fun day, which is a great way of reaching out to the community. I was very blasé about organising it as I was unaware of what it really entailed. This year was very different, as I was all too aware of everything that had to be done! I was so encouraged, however, as a small group of women were invaluable in helping to organise and run the event, which made a tremendous difference to me and the day itself.
Days that are too busy: In October I was so pleased to reduce my hours of work and have a Friday and Saturday off. Personally, this had made my life a lot easier but, just before I decreased my hours, I got a request to visit and help a family who were refugees from Syria. My initial thoughts were that I didn’t have time to do the work I was already doing, never mind increasing it. Thankfully, I did not act on those thoughts and I have had the joy of getting alongside this family. This has been a real blessing to me in that they are so grateful for any help we can give them, no matter how small that may be. I have also been blessed by seeing how God has provided for their needs through others in Elmwood. It has also given me insight to the great loss suffered by refugees.
Days of God’s provision: When I was working out in my head how my reduced hours would work, I thought it would only be possible if we got an assistant minister. Amazingly, that happened in September 2016 when Gunter Andrich and his family were called by God to leave South Africa and serve Him in Ireland. Fortunately for us, he has come to Elmwood as our assistant and has been a real blessing. It has been wonderful to be encouraged by his example, and that of his family, of stepping out in faith to serve God.
This is just a little reflection of God’s goodness and faithfulness to me over the past year. Thank you for your continuing support and prayers that make such a difference in my daily work in Elmwood.