Apart from one another, but still a part of something special

Karen Craig & Heather Clements

5.5.2020 | Presbyterian Women, Women's Ministry, These three remain

This week normally sees one of the biggest annual events hosted by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. The Presbyterian Women’s Annual Meeting and Evening Celebration draw women of all ages from congregations right across Ireland. Along with praise, prayer and teaching, the Annual Meeting launches the themes and projects of PW for the next church year. It also sees one PW President hand over to another.

This year the event has fallen victim to the restrictions on gatherings made necessary by the coronavirus pandemic. However, as outgoing President Karen Craig reflects on her year in office and incoming President Heather Clements looks forward to what lies ahead, it’s clear that PW members may be apart from one another, but they are still a part of something special under God.

Outgoing President Karen Craig reflects

For me, to end my term as PW President by writing a blog and not sharing in the Annual Meeting is very strange and certainly an unforeseen circumstance. Yet we remind ourselves that our God is Sovereign - our times are in his hands. I found myself humming the hymn “My times are in your hands” in these last few weeks. May we all know that God has us in the palm of his hand.

Out and about

Despite its abrupt end, my year as PW President has nonetheless been an amazing experience. I have had the privilege of sharing with groups, encouraging them as well as being encouraged by them. I have appreciated the opportunities to take part in many PW services, speaking to whole congregations and sharing about PW and the partnerships we have together in supporting the wider work of our denomination. It has been good to look at the work of PW, PCI and our projects through the frame of this year’s theme ‘Restore’ and to remind ourselves that the Lord is our Shepherd, he restores our soul. In these challenging times more than ever, we need to know the Lord as our Shepherd, the restorer of our souls.

Beyond these shores

I had the opportunity to visit Nepal and the Flemings and Lockwoods serving with PCI in global mission. It was lovely to meet and share with them, to see their work and to research a future PW Overseas project. It gave a clearer picture of the sacrifices of our global mission workers as they share the love of Jesus in many different and challenging circumstances.

Thanks for your prayers and support

Thanks to the ladies of PW for supporting me this year with your thoughts and prayers. God answered your prayers as I have enjoyed safety in travel, sharing meals, meeting and chatting to so many people and much more besides. I have appreciated the support of the staff, Pauline, Suzanne, Rose and Naomi. They work tirelessly to serve PW and ministry among women within our congregations. To Pauline, a special word of thanks for all your help and direction as I have learnt so much. May you all continue to know God’s blessing as you serve him.

My prayer for the future

PW groups are now finished for this session and probably without the chance of a final meeting. May you all know God’s love and protection. As we have always supported one another through prayer and friendship, let us continue to do so by whatever means we can. I want to pass on my good wishes to Heather as she takes up the role of PW President for 2020/21. I pray that she will know God’s help and protection in all the various commitments. In these uncertain times may she also know that her times are in God’s hands. May we all know the assurance of knowing God holds the future. He will be with us in whatever circumstance we find ourselves and to him be all the praise and glory.

Incoming President Heather Clements looks forward

As the PW Panel prayed about the preparations for the 2020 Annual Meeting none of us could have imagined how our lives would change, as they have done, over the past few weeks. As Karen steps down from the role of PW President I want to thank her for all that she has done for PW for many years and especially over the past year when we have been blessed by her leadership. I pray that she will know God’s blessing as she continues to serve him.

Fixing our eyes on God

As I take on the role of PW President the whole world is in crisis and uncertainty reigns. I thank God for his Word that assures us that he is in control. In 2 Chronicles 20 we read that Jehoshaphat was told that a mighty army was coming and he was alarmed. He turned to God and he reminded the people of Judah who God is, “The ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand and no-one can withstand you”. This needs to be our response today. In verse 12 we read Jehoshaphat tells God, “We do not know what to do but our eyes are on you.” This is how we may feel about the coronavirus; we are alarmed and we don’t know what to do, but we can fix our eyes on God.

The Lord is with us

We read that God sent Jehoshaphat a message “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army for the battle is not yours but God’s… and the Lord will be with you”. We are assured that in the midst of this danger and uncertainty the Lord is with us.

Side by Side

I know that at this time of self-isolating and social distancing our ladies will be side by side in prayer for one another and keeping in contact with one another. I pray that God will use the time of suffering to draw us closer to him. As we go forward into a new season with the theme Side by Side, I pray that we will know God’s peace and blessing.

This blog is part of a wider series under the campaign, These Three Remain to help members and congregations during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Visit the These Three Remain hub here.

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