Stories of outreach, inspiration, joy and risk taking around the Connexion.
Seeping the Mystical at Trinity College Dublin
Student chaplaincy is a privilege. When someone asks me, “What do you love about being a chaplain?" I answer, "Every year, I see boys and girls enter college - and four or five years later, I see young men and young women leave.”
It is an honour to spend time translating the Sacred for a generation at the age of discovery. During these years, students decide who they want to be, and options abound. To seep the mystical into the lives of these students (the vast majority of whom have little active faith) and cultivate them in the ways of Christ - of Love - is nothing less than extraordinary.
Home Mission provides funds to keep pastoral care, special events, guest lectures, missional experiments, worship gatherings, pilgrimages and activism alive, and I am exceedingly grateful.
Queen’s Chaplaincy Charities’ Partnerships
In June a team of 16 people from the joint Methodist and Church of Ireland Chaplaincy at Queen's University Belfast went to Kampala, Uganda to work alongside two charities that are based in Northern Ireland:
- Abaana, based in Bangor which works with vulnerable children providing a home for young boys who otherwise would be living on the streets
- Waakisa which is a refuge centre for young pregnant women which offers them a place to live and support them throughout their pregnancy and in the first few months after birth.
The team worked with local representatives, undertaking practical work, children’s ministry, working with street children, and sharing the love of Jesus in both word and action. It is hoped that this trip was the beginning of a longer and deeper relationship between the Chaplaincy and the projects by raising awareness, providing funds and helping one another to grow in Christ.
The picture below shows the team with some boys in New Life Homes which is the residential centre run by Abaana.
Thanks for all your support, Barry
Church of Ireland and Methodist Chaplain, QUB
Wicklow: Changing from Survival-mode to Mission-mode
The Vestry in Wicklow Methodist Church has not been used for a number of years. Some time ago the Church Council decided that it should be refurbished and used for the benefit of both the church and the wider community. The refurbishment is almost complete and it is hoped that the room will become a 'Quiet Room' - a place where people can reflect and pray, or, if need be, chat.
An information leaflet with details of all the organisations that use our premises, and all of our church activities, including the 'Quiet Room', will be hand-delivered to homes in Wicklow in the next few weeks.
This activity will require people to move outside their 'comfort zone': changing from survival-mode to mission-mode. A few of the congregation have expressed an interest and willingness to be available in the 'Quiet Room' at certain times, on certain days, to chat or pray with anyone who drops in.
Showing Love to Others in Tallaght and Lucan
In Tallaght Methodist Church we are working together with seven other churches in the area. Each Wednesday morning from 9 – 11am the Methodist Church and Alpha provide a full Irish outreach breakfast to people in the community. At one of the breakfasts four people, who had never been to the Church before, gave their lives to the Lord.
We have also started “Discipleship Growing Groups” with the focus - if you don’t know the why, you lose your way. Why are we meeting? Why are we doing what we are doing? If you don’t know, you have lost your way. Why, helps us to Focus?
We are a group who are being discipled, and as a result are growing in our faith. We are offering Peace & Coffee to the people in the area.
We are also starting a type of “Men’s Shed”. We put a gazebo out in an open area nearby and offered prayer.
We help to feed 45 families who are going through tough times. Prayer is offered and Bibles given.
In Lucan Methodist Church we are opening the door of our Church and saying, “Open for Prayer”. Why are we doing what we are doing?
God first loved us and we love Him and we show God’s love to others, that’s why!
Tourists, Archbishops and Food Banks in Dundrum, Newcastle, and Downpatrick
In Newcastle there are Interchurch Lectio Devina groups which meet in the Methodist Church. A member of the Methodist Church is currently in training as a facilitator for these groups.
At the annual Air Show Day in Newcastle we raised over £500 to pay for replacement shelving in the Manse study.
The women of Dundrum and Newcastle Methodist Churches cooked an evening meal for Cornerstone Children's Summer Outreach which was run by the Presbyterian Church and a local youth group called RIOT.
Community groups are using Newcastle Church’s new kitchen regularly.
The Pantry Food Bank is an Interchurch organisation which operates from the Methodist Church in Newcastle.
On St. Patrick's Day we opened the Church all day and offered tea, coffee and quizzes to all who came in. Busy days as had!
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby launched the Anglican Methodist Commission on Unity document "Into all the World" from the driveway of our Methodist Church where a large crowd was assembled.
This Society is currently waiting on God and seeking his vision for outreach opportunities in the village. We are investigating closer relationships RIOT (revival in our town) and are exploring ways in which we can work together. RIOT is a local youth group which works with young people in the village and organises a community fun days. We hope to develop potential praise events for young people via this relationship.
We receive a lot of tourists, particularly on holiday weekends when we provide tea and coffee after our Service. This enables people to chat and to get to know one another which we hope will let them feel more part of our fellowship.
We are looking at possibilities of adding a toilet and small kitchen facility to our Church building as we currently have to use the Manse’s facilities which are now a recognised tourist board hostel!!!
During the month of July Dublin North ran two summer children’s bible clubs (Sutton & Skerries). Teenagers and young adults helped to run these two clubs. We also had a devotional time together. Abide time apart with much fun and games.
During July 19 teenagers and young adults from Dublin North headed off on a road trip. They visited various projects around Dublin and Northern Ireland. On this road trip they experienced God at work through ordinary lives. Many people, who faithfully stepped out of their comfort zones in response to God’s call shared testimony as to how God was at work in their lives. Some of the places visited were ‘Third Space’, ‘The Solas Project’, ‘Common Grounds Café’, ‘West Belfast 24/7 Boiler Room’, ‘The Container Ministry’ and many other fun locations.
During the year our Church with the help of others facilitate running Youth Alphas in the local secondary school. We have also had the opportunity to help with the organising and running a couple of retreats for students in the secondary school.
In the coming year we are hoping to see a Prayer Space created to help students experience God in a new and more creative way.
Belfast Central Mission
Sandy Row Methodist Church, Belfast
There is an amazing presence of God in our project in Sandy Row! Stuart Crawford serves as our Community Outreach Worker for 20 hours a week. The congregation prayerfully increased his hours this spring by increasing their giving. This enabled the Toddler group could be started and supported. The plan is to decrease the hours to 15a week later this year. We can do this as the volunteers and participants of the Toddler group gradually take on leadership roles themselves.
Over the last few years, the Community Outreach Project has continued to grow as we reach into the community and increase the type of work we undertake. This is seen via:
- the development and growth over the last five years of our children's after-school club
- the revival of our Sunday School
- an increase in the participants of our mid-week bible study
- the setting up of a weekly drop-in Reflect Cafe for befriending/prayer/bible study
- the regular men's breakfast and monthly ladies circle
- the establishment of a new toddler group in January this year.
We also work with lonely and/or vulnerable adults, some of whom regularly attend our Reflect Café.
We are constantly working with others in the community, including churches and schools.
St Patrick’s Methodist Church and Gateway Centre, Waterford
Over the last few months the Church has created two partnerships, one with the Carlow/Kilkenny Churches and the second with the Centenary Church in Dublin. We have visited both congregations with well over 100 people travelling on both occasions. Both trips were truly memorable and Kilkenny/Carlow have already reciprocated.
Recently the Chief Superintendent of Police in Waterford, Patrick Murphy, took part in our service and the Dean of Christchurch Cathedral, Maria Jansen, took our Harvest Service.
To put it simply there is a wonderful energy in the Church at present with Sunday attendances rarely dropping below 100.
The Gateway Centre
The Gateway Centre is equally active, for example, during the month of September the Centre hosted 25 different events including seminars, concerts, weekly Saturday markets, English language classes and exhibitions to name but a few. Given that the refurbished Church/Centre has only been open for sixteen months we have made considerable progress, however, there is still a long way to go. All in all the future looks bright.