My Dear Friends
It is delightful to return to British Summer Time with the lengthening hours of daylight with the refreshing colours of Spring flowers and new growth on the trees. It is the visible signs of renewed life, which makes such a difference to our attitude and that of so many people we meet. However, there are still the grumblers and complainers, even among those who profess faith. Often I would like to tell them that grumbling and complaining releases a demon of destruction and that their complaining is doing the work of the enemy. How much nicer it would be if everyone chose to be positive, and spoke only constructive and encouraging words.
Although the session from January to Easter has been shorter than usual, much has been achieved. During Lent we held two Quiet Days at Echo Sound, which were well attended, and proved beneficial for those who were present, not least to those who led and served. So often it takes something like a day’s retreat, or break in our routine, to make us think about, or even hear, the answer to some problem or concern that has been niggling us, leading to resolution or new course of action and completion.
Following a Prayer Ministry Course in the autumn, I was asked to preach at the Presbyterian Women’s (PW) Service at Strean Presbyterian Church in Newtownards on Mothering Sunday. The following week Rosie and I partnered in a seminar on ‘Anointing and Cleansing’ at 162. Clabby Parish, Clogher Diocese welcomed me on Sunday afternoon 13th March for a seminar entitled, ‘He Touched Me’, which dealt with many aspects of the Christian healing ministry. This was followed by a beautiful tea and an evening healing service in St Margaret’s Church led by Canon Maurice Armstrong.
On Wednesday 16 March I returned to Saint Philip and James Parish Church in Holywood, (where we had worshipped as a family for 25 years), for their mid-week service of Holy Communion with prayers for the sick. At the coffee after the service the rector Rev Gareth Harron presented me with a cheque for £1600 for the Church’s Ministry of Healing, representing the donations from the group. That afternoon I was at the launch of Nexus’ ‘Kiss’ Project, (Kidz Internet Safety Source or Kiss). This was a Lottery funded project created by Nexus, as a training resource for teachers, parents, carers, and anyone who works with young people, to enable them to advise young people how to stay safe online. Those present were astonished at the ease with which predators could gain information through the internet and social media, using it to groom, bully, blackmail and coerce young people. More information on ‘Kiss’ may be obtained on their website: www.nexusni.org
In house the ministry continues to flourish, both through prayer ministry and counselling, with referrals coming through rectors, ministers, GPs or previous clients. This is aided by good public transport and our discreet location. We are delighted to have received two grants of £5000 from TBF and KL Thompson Trust and The Priorities Fund to assist the funding of the ministry and enable us to work in less populous areas of the Church of Ireland. We are very grateful for both of these.
We look forward to receiving a group from Ballymena at 162 in May. Other groups coming for Quiet Days at Echo Sound include: Portaferry Parish, Ards Area Deanery, Knockbreda Methodists, Lisburn CFC, Ards Clergy Fellowship, Precepts Ministries and the Lydia Prayer Group. If you would like to have a morning, afternoon or even a day for a group of 6 – 20 people at 162 or Echo Sound, then please phone to discuss availability and topic. I have been amazed at how quickly the months of April and May have been booked. The garden at 162 is really beautiful at the moment and Echo Sound is beautiful in any season. Both are conducive to quiet thought and reflection.
Out and about I will be preaching at a healing service in Shankill, Lurgan and at Cloghenry, Beragh; and speaking at a seminar for Lurgan Area Deanery on developing local healing ministries.
On Saturday 18 June, from 9.15 am to 4.30 pm, Precepts Ministries Ireland are holding a workshop at 162 on ‘How the Bible Fits Together’. Numbers are limited for this and booking is essential. I highly recommend their method of bible study, which is beneficial for all abilities and backgrounds. We are delighted that they are partnering with us. Our partnership is symbiotic. When someone comes to us for prayer and has little experience of studying the bible, but are unsure about connecting into a local church, we recommend that they contact Precepts Ministries who can direct them into an appropriate group.
Over the next months there are a number of fundraising events taking place. Please support us in these and bring your friends along. These include a Coffee Morning and Plant and Gift Sale at 162 on Saturday 21st May from 10.00 am; a Car Treasure Hunt from 162 on Friday 27th May, starting at 7.00 pm; Downshire Brass will be playing at Echo Sound on the shore of Strangford Lough on Saturday 25th June from 6.30 pm. Glyndebourne could not compare in any way to this! Bring your own picnic and chairs, and all your friends too. Saturday 3rd September is a return visit to the Lakeside Inn, Ballydugan for a Table Quiz. If you haven’t experienced this yet, it is both intellectually challenging and great fun.
Over the last few months the craft group, ‘Stitch, Glue, Sip and Chew’ have been working hard on a Monday morning at 162. The knitting needles have been clicking and the crochet hooks slipping to and fro. Prayer shawls have been prayed over and completed, cotton dishcloths have been knitted to perfection, rolled up and ribboned, and ‘Cross in My Pocket’ have been stitched. Conversations have been varied, but inevitable have come gently round to the truths of the gospel in everyday life. It is a small group who would welcome new members. You might even learn a new craft. One of the things that has surprised me has been the popularity of the ‘Cross in My Pocket’. We can hardly keep up to the demand. Perhaps it is that people wish to identify with the ‘Cross in My Pocket’ verse, affirming that Christ is Lord of their life, and in a quiet way rejecting the evil we see in society?
CMH-TM tells the great story of God’s love to people and as supporters it is your story too. I could not begin to thank all the people who are part of this journey, the counsellors; the prayer partners on the Emergency Prayer Line and those in house and at St Anne’s and Down Cathedrals; those who lead our praise and worship; and those who use their administrative gifts and gardening talents. The two little words, ‘Thank You’, sound very small to reflect our gratitude, but we pray that God will bless you in every way.
To date we have repaid £87,500 of the loan to refurbish 162. We still have £60,000 to be repaid. Would you be willing to hold a fund raising event for CMH – a coffee morning; a quiz; an auction or any other event to promote the ministry?
Please contact us if you have ideas for this.
I do love these early weeks of British Summer Time, when I am up in the morning to see the sun come up behind the islands on Strangford Lough. Recently as I was watching the rising sun while reading my memory connected a long forgotten moment from my schooling as I started to sing one of our lunchtime graces: ‘Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam. In a moment of surprising clarity I realised that all those years ago in school, the grace which we sang at lunch in Latin was a direct translation of Psalm 115 verse 1 and I thanked God that the founders of the school were Christian and that my upbringing had Christ at the centre. The very words of Psalm 115 v 1 I ‘Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to thy name give the glory’, are for The Church’s Ministry of Healing – The Mount. We can do nothing without Him.
Your sister in Christ