Later this month our readers in Northern Ireland will take to the polling stations to cast votes on whether to stay in or leave the EU. Some will be very sure of how to vote, others will be more uncertain, floundering amidst the complex and confusing arguments portrayed in the media.
Although our Church will not advise people either way, the Herald has sought to help those readers better understand the decision that is before them. To that end, PCI’s Public Affairs Officer, Gavin Norris, sets out the main issues to be considered. Dr. Norman Hamilton, convener of the Council for Church and Society, has also offered a reflection, framing the decision in a biblical perspective.
One thing is for sure – not all will come to the same conclusion, reflecting the diversity that is among Presbyterians, and believers in general. We do not all think alike, but we can still be united in our faith and fellowship.
This month the Herald looks at another issue where opinions differ – that of the ordination of women. In 1973 the General Assembly agreed that women should be eligible for ordination and this year marks the 40th anniversary since Ruth Patterson became PCI’s first female minister. 2016 also marks 90 years since women were accepted into the eldership of our Church.
This edition contains two personal reflections from Dr. Ruth Patterson and Prof. Stephen Williams, which address where our denomination currently stands on this issue. In a year of significant anniversaries, it is appropriate and timely to take stock and discuss. In his article, Prof. Williams asks, “Have we truly honoured the Lord of the Church in the way we have tackled the whole question before us?”
Like all things we disagree on, it is imperative that respect and love is at the core of all our discussions. The General Assembly, which will happen this month, is the perfect forum to practice this. As Dr. Ian McNie hands over the moderatorial baton to Dr. Frank Sellar, both men share their reflections on this role in this edition, with Dr. McNie keen to highlight his appreciation of witnessing the work of our Church at large.
There is much in our denomination that should be celebrated, affirmed and encouraged. Regardless of our differing opinions on a variety of topics, we should always seek unity, with an attitude of humility, grace and understanding. As Andrew Conway reminds us in his final article in the series on the Westminster Confession of Faith, “Fellowship is worth fighting for.”
Sarah Harding, Editor
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.
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