This month’s cover story reflects the Church’s theme for this year: Making Everyday Disciples. At the end of August, the fifth Special Assembly took place at Ulster University Coleraine with this same theme of discipleship and in his article, Alan Meban chatted to delegates who attended the Assembly.
In ‘My story…Wings with God’, Carolyn Armstrong, who is a member of Granshaw Presbyterian Church, reveals how her experience of having MS led her to write a book about suffering.
‘Scrambled Eg’ is this month’s congregational story. Sam Scott, the men’s and community worker at Eglinton Presbyterian Church, describes the congregation’s efforts with outreach and engagement through its Messy Church programme.
“We have found Messy Church rewarding… especially when people we don’t recognise come to our church. But even amongst ourselves and our ‘regulars’, people have been really enjoying our Scrambled Eg Messy Church nights”, said Sam.
The need for foodbanks in many of our towns and cities is very much a reality in society today. And while October can be the month for celebrating harvest in many of our congregations, in ‘A future with foodbanks?’ Ruth Sanderson travels to Downpatrick to visit a foodbank there and to discover the truth about food poverty.
The foodbank is found in the old choir room of Downpatrick Presbyterian Church, and was the idea of the local Methodist Church. The two churches work together with the Roman Catholic church and St. Vincent de Paul, responding to the Bible’s call to feed the hungry. And in the past year they have done exactly that, with almost 5,000 people in the area coming to them due to food poverty.
Rev. Owen Patterson, minister of Downpatrick Presbyterian highlights the need. “Food poverty is just below the surface. It’s invisible if you don’t want to see it, but it’s everywhere… Even I was surprised at how many accessed the foodbank here. It’s a part of life that many of us don’t want to engage with – it’s uncomfortable.”
It is estimated that around the world millions of Christians are being persecuted, simply because of their faith. As part of Bangor Worldwide Missionary Convention, Suzanne Hamilton had the opportunity to come to a greater understanding and gain a fresh perspective on this tragic situation. In ‘Church on the move’, she describes the experience of getting on a bus, along with fellow travellers, to gain insight into the life of a ‘secret believer’.
Do you feel capable of discussing your faith with the well-prepared missionaries of other faiths? Would you even go so far as to avoid this opportunity? In ‘When a Muslim calls’, Stephen Graham considers the challenge of knowing the basics of our faith, so that we can practice effective evangelism with others of all faiths and none.
He reminds us, “When we refuse to engage those of other faiths, we simply reinforce their stereotyped image that Christians don’t really grasp what they believe and why.”
Mission Connect for October offers mission news from Graeme Orr, chaplain at Ulster University Magee campus; Steve Anderson, global mission worker in Spain; and Stephen and Angelina Cowan serving in Kenya. We also hear from Sandra Nixon, care assistant at Lawnfield House in Newcastle; Rev. David Conkey, minister in Enniscorthy and Wexford; and Rev. Danny Rankin, minister of Strand Presbyterian. A daily prayer diary, covering various aspects of the work of the Church, is also provided as a prayer guide for the month.
In this month’s Talking Point entitled ‘Floods’, Norman Hamilton challenges our commitment to generous hospitality. He reminds us of the clear guidance in the Scriptures, that hospitality in our homes is to be regarded as absolutely normal.
‘The same difference’ is the title of Peter McDowell’s article, in which he reflects on a recent trip to Myanmar to visit one of PCI’s partner churches – the Presbyterian Church in Myanmar (PCM). While there he discovered that PCI and PCM are facing many similar issues, so sharing experiences and perspectives that are alike.
“Being with the Church in Myanmar… made me more appreciative of the importance of partnership in mission… Sharing in partnership brings encouragement and provides support”, said Peter.
The Herald also brings our regular and popular columns: ‘As I see it…’ with Eleanor Petrie, who is on PCI’s Republic of Ireland Panel of the Council for Public Affairs, and ‘Life Lessons’ with Rev. Joe Mooney, retired minister and author. We also have Betsy Cameron’s reflection in ‘Worship’ and ‘Living now and then’ by Arthur Clarke.
The letters, news and ‘Life in PCI’ pages are also there to be enjoyed, and for some reading and listening suggestions, why not turn to the reviews pages?
Don’t miss out on October’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.