Upwards of 1000 women are set to gather in Assembly Buildings in Belfast to welcome the group’s new president, Ann Wilson from Saintfield, to worship, hear from God’s Word, and find out how the organisation’s work has continued to make a difference to the lives of so many across Ireland and overseas this past year. Pauline Kennedy, PCI’s Women’s Ministry and PW Development Officer, is looking forward to it.
“I am really excited, as this year’s conference is a brilliant opportunity for women from our congregations to join with women from across Ireland as we come together to worship and celebrate all that God is doing in our lives and through His church,” Pauline said.
“The non-ticket event is free and open to women of all ages across our congregations, and as with many organisations, there is a certain rhythm to church life and our Annual Conference is one of those points in PCI’s calendar that so many women look forward to.”
As Pauline Kennedy explained Presbyterian Women is an organisation within the Presbyterian Church in Ireland that enables, encourages and equips women to become disciples of Christ.
It also highlights the need for love and unity, obedience to God, having a servant heart and a commitment to local and global mission. “We are very blessed as an organisation of some 450 groups across the island, as we are able to do more together than we could do alone. Together we are a real partnership that is able to support our Mission Fund to the tune of around £300,000 each year, and we are so grateful for the generosity of our groups up and down the land,” she said.
Alongside supporting the development of ministry to women in the Church each year, Presbyterian Women, support various special projects at home and overseas through the Mission Fund. In recent years, for example, the organisation has partnered with the Evangelical Christian Church in Timor, Indonesia, helping to restore the Suara Kasih radio station after 2021’s devastating Cyclone Seroja. It has also supported the International Justice Ministry IJM and its work with child victims of cybersex trafficking.
Locally, Presbyterian Women have helped CARE NI, specifically for retreats for couples who have suffered pregnancy loss and provided a more modern, well- equipped kitchen, at PCI’s International Meeting Point (IMP) in North Belfast. The IMP reaches out to asylum seekers and refugees who have come to make their new home in the city.
“Every year our partnership also supports the work of PCI’s deaconesses here at home, the training of new student deaconesses, and the work of South Belfast Friendship House, alongside our Global Mission Workers. At this year’s Annual Conference we will be unveiling our Special Home and Overseas Projects for 2023/2024 and hearing from guest speaker, Rev Ali Calvin, the current rector Christ Church in Kilkeel,” explained Pauline.
The theme for the year is always launched at the Annual Conference, and this year it is ‘Being Transformed’. “Coming from Romans 12:2, it is really the essence of our journey with Christ. In his Letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul reminds us that we should not conform to the pattern of the world but, instead, we should be transformed by the renewing of our minds. When we do this, we are promised that we will be able “to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). I am very much looking forward to Ali helping us understand more about being transformed when she speaks to us at the first session at 2pm and again at our evening celebration at 7.30pm,” Pauline said.
With the exception of PCI’s General Assembly, which will meet towards the end of June, the Annual Conference of Presbyterian Women is the largest annual meeting held by the Church. The non-ticket event is open to women of all ages and looking forward to the Conference, Rev Ali Calvin said, “My deepest prayer is that we will know God’s presence with us. When we unpack His Word with hearts open to His Spirit there is no limit to what He can do.”
Photos: (1) Pauline Kennedy, PCI’s Women’s Ministry and PW Development Officer (2) the logo for this year's conference (3) Rev Ali Calvin, the current rector Christ Church in Kilkeel who will be the Conference guest speaker.