Presbyterian Children's Society celebrates 150 years

10.5.2016 | Moderator

Assembly Buildings in Belfast was the venue today for a special service of thanksgiving and celebration for the work and ministry of the Presbyterian Children’s Society, which has been commemorating its 150th anniversary this year.

Formerly known as the Presbyterian Orphan and Children’s Society, since 1866, the Society has been supporting the Church’s pastoral care for families with financial grants, provided through the generosity of individual Presbyterians and congregations.

The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Koulla Yiasouma, joined Presbyterian Moderator, Rt. Rev. Dr. Ian McNie for the service, and many supporters from across Ireland who had come together to give thanks for the work and witness of the Society over the past century and a half. During this time, 43,000 children from 17,500 families have been given the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Taking part in the service, Dr. McNie reflected on the special place that Jesus had in His heart for children, the way in which the early church supported orphans and widows and how we continue to follow in their footsteps.

“The theme entrusted to me as Moderator this year has been a ‘Caring Fellowship’. It is a theme that has its roots both in the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and the practice of the early church. For the past 150 years the Presbyterian Children’s Society, through the generosity of individuals and congregations across Ireland has been doing just that, caring, by supporting families up and down the land.”

The service took place almost 150 years to the day when a group of Presbyterian ministers and elders formed the Society with broadly the same aim as it has today - to ‘strengthen and support the family by enhancing financial independence and providing, where possible, resources to enable children to fulfil their full potential’.

Providing regular financial payments to support Presbyterian children up to the age of 23 – who with their families are living in hardship – last year the Society directly helped 740 children in 400 families. During this time it paid out almost £550,000in annual and occasional exceptional payments.

Since 1866, the Society has been funded through the generosity of individuals, donations from congregations and investment income, which the Society’s President Rev. Purvis Campbell was keen to acknowledge.

“During 150 years circumstances have changed and demands are different but at least two things have remained the same; there are still many families facing poverty and hardship and the generosity and support of Presbyterians is amazing,” he said.

“Our sincere thanks must go to those who financially and prayerfully support the Society, those who organise congregational collections – a number who have served in this role for over 50 years – and without whom the Society could not fulfil its calling to express practically God’s love to children.”

The Presbyterian Children’s Society can be contacted on +44 (0)28  9032 3737 or by email.

Pictured (L-R): Presbyterian Moderator, Rt. Rev. Dr. Ian McNie, The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Koulla Yiasouma and the Sociey's President, Rev. Purvis Campbell.

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