Each year the current Moderator embarks on an overseas tour, and in the last few years this has ranged from Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya to Malawi and Nepal. However, this year the Moderator and his wife Florence will travel to Zambia, where it is believed there hasn’t been a visit of a Moderator since 1966, when Dr. Alfred Martin was the incumbent.
They are also very much looking forward to meeting Diane Cusick, who is based in Lusaka, the capital city. Diane is serving with the CCAP Synod of Zambia, as their Early Childhood Development Coordinator and is engaged in setting up some early childhood centres to run alongside the church’s existing community schools.
The McNeelys have always followed with interest Diane’s service in Malawi.
“Diane was a young person in the Route Presbytery Youth Movement when we were in Ballymoney and we remember her valedictory service in Bushvale Presbyterian Church, when she was commissioned as a missionary to Malawi.
“We are now excited to discover more about Diane’s innovative work in Zambia,” Dr. McNeely said.
When the McNeelys arrive in the former British colony they will find a country still facing many challenges. Due to this, the CCAP Synod of Zambia seeks to address not only the holistic spiritual needs of its congregations, but also the social and financial needs facing Zambians. So, as well as evangelism and church growth through literature and community health evangelism, CCAP operates church development projects and work in society. The church development projects include lay training and Chasefu Theological College, as well as Chasefu Farm and Chunga Chicken Farm. Alongside this, the work in society varies between community schools, early childhood development and education, to health and HIV/Aids awareness, shallow wells, and a Christian Men’s and Women’s Guild. The Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) has had a close relationship with and supported the Synod since 1986.
During their visit the Moderator and his wife will have the opportunity to visit some of the community schools, in Matero, Chilenje and Mtendere, as well as the Health and Lay Training and Relief and Development Departments. Dr. McNeely will also preach at Lundazi congregation, where Rev. David McConaghy served as a PCI missionary from 1965 to 1971. Before travelling back to Lusaka and homeward, they will visit the Chaefu Theological College and Egichicken Health Centre.
Dr. McNeely recognises that this is a significant visit they are making to the Church in Zambia, and for a Moderator to visit the Synod is quite a special event for them. Reflecting on this he said, “We hope we can live up to their expectations and that we can convey appropriately the greetings and prayers of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland to the Synod of Zambia.
“We are humbled to have this opportunity to visit an African state and to experience the culture and vitality of the African Church.”
The chief purpose of the visit to Zambia is pastoral, in particular to Diane Cusick, who is currently the only PCI global mission worker serving there. Diane will be accompanying the couple on the visit, doubling up as the driver for their itinerary. This will allow them to see her Early Childhood Development programme and the school that she is working in, as well as some other community schools.
“We trust that we will be able to encourage Diane in her demanding work and that fellowship with her will be refreshing. We also trust that we will be able to help in developing the relationship PCI enjoys with the CCAP and the Synod of Zambia.
“We are expecting that this trip will enrich our lives and widen our perspective of the church. We anticipate it being a learning experience for us and are excited to be able to see a part of the African continent we would probably have never experienced, but for this Moderatorial year,” Dr. McNeely said.
The Moderator and his wife will leave for Zambia on 24th July, returning to Northern Ireland on 4th August. To find out more about PCI’s work in Zambia and Diane Cusick please visit the Mission webpage.