The service of worship marked a significant moment in the history of the Centre as together with 24/7 Prayer and PCI’s Dublin and Munster Presbytery, which runs the Lucan Centre, the new initiative seeks to create a vibrant resource for mission with a praying community at its heart.
As an initiative of what was then PCI’s Youth Board, from its inception in the mid-1980s under direction of Very Rev Dr Trevor Morrow, who was minister of Lucan Presbyterian from 1983 to 2014, the Lucan Centre has played a significant and award winning role in cross-border reconciliation on the island of Ireland. Much of this was focused on bringing young people together from different traditions and helping them to discover a living faith in Christ.
Set in around 10 acres, with its chalets, conference and dining facilities, along with its 14 ensuite bedrooms in the main building itself, over time, the Centre has become a tranquil place. Used by many different Christians as a venue for church family weekends, and for conferences, it is also a place where they can deepen their relationship with God and with each other.
As Dr Morrow explained, the link-up takes the Lucan Centre into a new phase with two families from 24/7 Prayer now living at the Centre. “We have always believed in the importance and power of prayer, as it is at the heart of Christian discipleship. Having a praying community on-site however, has always been our ambition. Getting to grips with the practicalities of this in a meaningful and concrete way has proved elusive, until we were led to the well-known and respected 24/7 Prayer ministry.
“There is a growing interest in the reformed evangelical tradition of the practice of retreat. What I mean here is seeking God and nurturing our relationship with Him in a quiet removed place so that we can be recharged to enjoy a fresh vision of what it to live in union with Christ.”
Dr Morrow continued, “We Presbyterians may be a bit wary of this term ‘retreat’ but writers like Eugene Peterson have ignited an interest in reformed catholic spirituality. Allister McGrath rightly says in his book, Roots that Refresh, if it is grounded and nourished in Scripture, orientated towards the everyday world, while recognising the priesthood and vocation of all believers, it can add depth and nuance to personal and corporate worship and mission.
“Over a period of months we prayerfully explored the potential for new relationships, and we’re deeply grateful to God for developing in us a new sense of direction, and for bringing us to the threshold of this fresh beginning with 24/7 Prayer,” the former Moderator said.
With 3 families already living in prayerful community on site, Rev Michael Anderson, Minister of Arklow Presbyterian and Chair of the Lucan Centre Board, said that moving forward the Centre will increasingly have prayer and praying at its heart. “As a Presbytery, and as a Board, we are very excited about our linking up with 24/7 Prayer in the hope that, in addition to providing a residential space, the Lucan Centre may become a place where there is a praying community facilitating rhythms of prayer. A place where weary followers of Christ can find their souls refreshed, and where anyone can be helped to connect with God and find deep spiritual healing.
“This aspect of our work is very much in its infancy, but we are delighted to have a 24/7 Prayer team living onsite and working alongside our current Centre staff to slowly but surely make this dream a reality,” Mr Anderson said.
Saturday’s special Service of Commissioning included two video messages of support and encouragement. The first was from the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Rt Rev Dr John Kirkpatrick and the second was by CEO of 24/7 Prayer, Adrian Eagleson. Guests also had the opportunity to visit the newly built prayer room.
Speaking at the Centre, Ross Hill, who helps to lead 24/7 Prayer on its community development side in Ireland said that it was the beginning of something new. “In her book, The Purpose of Retreat, Ruth Haley Barton writes that the purpose itself ‘...is to become more deeply grounded in God as the ultimate orientating reality of our lives and to return to the life God has given us with renewed strength, vitality and clarity about who we are called to be in God for the world.’ It is an invitation from Jesus to experience the unforced rhythms of grace.”
Mr Hill continued. “We also get this wonderful picture from Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Matthew 11 28-30 in The Message where Jesus says, ‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’
“It is also an evocative and powerful picture of rest and retreat and 24-7 is grateful to the Board of the Lucan Centre for the invitation to join with them at this transitional time and is excited about the potential to see the Centre become a place of retreat, prayer, education and enterprise. The fact that PCI has been willing to team up with a movement like 24/7 Prayer, which is outside their normal tradition is, I think, important for the wider church, Mr Hill said.”
The Moderator of the Presbytery of Dublin and Munster, Rev Daniel Reyes Martin, Minister of Corboy and Mullingar Presbyterian Churches, took part in the prayer of commissioning along with two members of 24/7 Prayer during the service. “As a scheme under the auspices of the Presbytery, over the years the Centre has become a great resource, a place where people can find, know and enjoy God together through reconciliation and retreat,” he said.
“It is my hope and prayer that this new chapter in its life will see the Centre flourish and be a blessing to those who come to be refreshed in Christ, and the communities that they ultimately serve.”
Photos: (1) Rev Daniel Reyes Martin, Moderator of the Presbytery of Dublin & Munster, Rev Michael Anderson Chair of the Lucan Centre, Ross Hill, 24/7 Prayer and Stuart Ferguson, Lucan Centre Secretary/Treasurer and Clerk of Presbytery (2) the Lucan Centre in County Dublin, (3) Rev Daniel Reyes Martin speaking during the commissioning of the Lucan Centre team and 24/7 families.
If you would be interested in booking the Centre for a residential stay, or retreat, for booking a time to pray in its newly built prayer room, or just to have someone that will listen to you and pray with you confidentially, you can contact the centre here. You can also find more information on 24/7 Prayer here.