This month’s cover story reflects a subject that is very much on the radar at the moment, dementia. In her article ‘Dementia & faith’, Suzanne Hamilton looks at the difficulties that a fading mind causes for those living with the condition, as well as their carers. She also explores the challenge that this presents to the Church, of how to support those living with dementia and their families.
Continuing this theme, in ‘My story…Deep memories’, Niall Lockhart reveals the heartache of watching a loved one suffer from dementia. He describes the journey with his dad: “Amidst his confusion there are moments when the fog clears and his deep memories of what it means to be in Christ tell him that this stretch of the journey is not the end.”
‘A safe space in Ards’ is this month’s congregational story. Karen Glass, a member of Regent Street Presbyterian, recounts how the congregation is reaching out to young people in Newtownards. Since September 2015 the church has been running Safe Space, a drop-in centre for any year eight students (or first formers if you’re of a certain age!) attending school in the town or returning home to Newtownards from schools further away.
The congregation’s mission is ‘Living and sharing God’s Good News’, so with the support of the kirk session, Safe Space was agreed as part of this community outreach plan.
Amy Chambers, Youth Support Worker, describes the impact of Safe Space, “…These young people may have little or no connection or relationship with the church, but through Safe Space we have seen growth in our relationship with them, with their families and the wider community… We have been able to show a different side of the church.”
Throughout 2017 the fifth and final ‘Fit for Purpose’ theme, ‘a community of global concern’ has unfolded and been welcomed by the Church. In ‘Envisioned. Equipped. Engaged.’ Mark Welsh asks where that journey of reflection has taken us in the past year – in particular, what has our own personal and our congregation’s missional journeys been like?
Have you heard of the ‘Billy Graham rule’? In ‘Tea for two’ Ruth Sanderson explores what this rule is and how she feels about what it suggests and the possible implications – concluding that if we all follow Christ’s example then there is no need for ‘the rule’.
Mission Connect for May offers mission news from Sadie McCullough, deaconess in Whiteabbey; Laura Mulligan serving in Spain; and Naomi Keefe serving in Brazil. We also hear from Ken Doherty, chaplain at the Mater Hospital; Linzie Cobain, Nightlight team leader based along the Golden Mile in Belfast; and Charlotte du Toit who is a member of Fermoy Presbyterian Church. A daily prayer diary, covering various aspects of the work of the Church, is also provided as a guide for our prayers for the month.
In this month’s Talking Point entitled ‘Stateside views’, Norman Hamilton reflects on a recent trip he made to Washington DC and shares some American opinions on politics in Ireland, north and south.
‘Disciples and their hobbies’ is the title of an article by Andrew Conway, in which he discusses how our faith should impact our recreational lives. He reminds us that as God rested on the seventh day, Scripture clearly shows us that we need rest as part of our regular pattern, and for many of us part of this rest will be a leisure pursuit. Furthermore, Andrew highlights the indirect mission potential in our hobbies.
“Woodwork has brought me in touch with some people I might not otherwise know and given me some opportunity to be the aroma of Christ around them,” he said.
Last month the Herald recounted the story of Katharina von Bora, whose marriage to Martin Luther made her a significant figure in the Reformation. This month in ‘Relevant?’, Jonathan Boyd looks at how the Reformation has established and shaped church as we know it today.
In August this year, PCI’s Special Assembly, ‘Everyday disciples’, will take place at Ulster University in Coleraine. Lisa Skinner had the opportunity to chat to Randy Pope, who will be one of the keynote speakers at the event, and to ask him about discipleship – what it means and why it’s important.
PCI missionaries in Nepal, Peter and Valerie Lockwood and Stephen and Laura Coulter, reflect on how the devastating earthquake that hit the country two years ago has affected their work and the country itself in ‘Nepal two years on…’.
The Herald also brings our regular and popular columns: ‘As I see it…’ with Peter Lynas, and ‘Life Lessons’ with Rev. Eric Borland, minister emeritus of Burnside Presbyterian. We also have Betsy Cameron’s reflection in ‘Many voices’ and ‘Let your light shine’ by Arthur Clarke.
The letters, news and ‘Life in PCI’ pages are also there to be enjoyed, and for some reading and viewing suggestions, why not turn to the reviews pages? And for those attending the General Assembly this year, you can find information on the programme for the week on page 12 and on the PCI website: www.presbyterianireland.org/generalassembly2017
Don’t miss out on May’s Herald; you can download this edition here or to see how you can subscribe visit this page.
Single copies may be purchased at the reception desk in Assembly Buildings, Fisherwick Place, Belfast.