Rt Rev Dr Charles McMullan, Presbyterian Moderator goes back to school!
Remembering his teachers with affection, Rt Rev Dr Charles McMullen told students and present-day staff gathered for Omagh Academy’s recent Prize Day, how the science department had despaired of him, while those in physical education had told him that he would be more favourably disposed at home playing tiddly-winks.
While reminiscing about his time at the school in the 1970s the former head boy confided that he had been asked by the principal to give the class of 2018, “some advice about life that stretches out before you, hopefully for the next 40 years and much further beyond.”
In his speech, Dr McMullen said that Prize Day was an opportunity to take some time to pause and reflect, to celebrate achievement and receive rewards. He also told the students that there would be times when they would not necessarily receive plaudits or accolades.
“These are the most satisfying in different, deeper ways. It has to do with those inner qualities we might describe in a slightly old-fashioned way…as Christian charity: a word of encouragement, a random act of kindness, showing forgiveness, going the extra mile, treating others as you would like to be treated,” he said.
Presbyterian Moderator goes back to school and offers some good advice to the present-day students.
The Moderator also said that he wanted to dispel three modern day myths that everyone encounters on life’s journey. “The first is that appearance and admiration will lead to acceptance.” Referencing TV reality show Love Island he said that so much of today’s society was about the pursuit of image. “There is a lovely line in the Old Testament when the prophet Samuel is looking for someone to replace King Saul. As he is taken in by tall, handsome specimens, he hears these words: ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”
The second myth that Dr McMullen wanted to dispel was that that performance and accomplishments would somehow lead to significance. “Here is the gentle reminder that there is more to life than our career paths, daily routine, the endless grind and stress of life. One of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given is to say that no one on his death bed wishes that he had spent more time in the office.”
Lastly, Dr McMullen reminded the teenagers that we can often believe that status and recognition lead to security. “It’s my title and the respect that you give me that really matters. On the contrary, what we do in life is never as important as who we are. Quality comes before quantity and our character counts before anything else – our integrity, our honesty, our trustworthiness, our faithfulness our compassion, our understanding and our caring,” he said.
The Moderator also spoke about his journey to Christian ministry and said that he believed that there is a basic need in everyone to know that “we are loved with an everlasting love. And only that love can ultimately satisfy. It is seen in its wonderful fullness in Jesus Christ, who came into this world and sacrificed himself for us. The Bible tells us that he was full of grace and truth. If there is a message that I could leave with you today, then in Christ Jesus it is grace and truth – his holy, unconditional, selfless love and the truth He brings,” he said.
Speaking of that truth had reminded him of his discovery one day in class of the meaning of the school’s Latin motto – Veritas Vincet, ’Truth will conquer’, something, he said, he had never forgotten.
Founded in 1903 Omagh Academy is attended by just under 700 pupils. Dr McMullen attended the school from 1971 to 1978. Visit Omagh Academy website here.