PW support various projects at home and overseas, these are funded through the PW Mission Fund and are chosen annually by PW Panel.
Special project 2017-18:
Deaconess Training Fund
The Special Project for the year 2017-18 will be the Deaconess Training Fund. It is hoped that a new group of students will commence deaconess training in Union Theological College in September 2017. PW has been involved in training deaconesses since 1908. The first to be trained by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland were Elizabeth Barclay (commissioned in 1908 to serve in Duncairn), Susan Watt (commissioned in 1910 to serve in First Newry) and Mary Stevenson (commissioned in 1910 as Town Missionary for five Presbyterian churches in Ballymena).
Amazingly, the great-great-niece of Elizabeth Barclay is Sharon Heron, who is currently serving as a deaconess at the International Meeting Point in Belfast. In the book 'A Century of Service' we are reminded that "one hundred years ago a group of men and women believed that trained women working full-time in urban congregations could improve the churches' ability to reach out to the unchurched... deaconesses... sought to take the Church into the community and make it relevant to peoples everyday lives."
Over the years the role of deaconesses has developed in response to the need for evangelism and pastoral care in a changing society and they have offered practical Christian love and friendship to many in the community. They continue to have many different roles, such as hospital chaplaincy, hospice care and working alongside ministers as part of ministry teams within Presbyterian congregations.
The training of the new deaconesses is of crucial importance in the continued life and witness of the Church. This is only possible by the generous giving of Presbyterian Women, which continues to fund this training today. Please continue to partner with us as we seek to maintain this vital work.
Deaconess Training 2017-18 from Presbyterian Church in Ireland on Vimeo.