Plans for a number of new ministries were unveiled for Ballymena Parish during Vision Sunday. Vision Sunday took place at St Patrick’s Church, Castle Street in Ballymena on Sunday 15th October 2017.
These new initiatives have emerged after much prayer, reflection and careful outside consultations by the Parish rector, Rev Mark McConnell and his curate, Rev Dennis Christie.
They are launching the initiatives in response to the ‘Great Commission’ as outlined in Matthew’s Gospel. In chapter 28, vs 16-20, Jesus tells His followers to ‘go out into all the world and make disciples.’ Mark is also aware that he can no longer rely on ‘family loyalty’ to provide the next generation of parishioners. He also believes that as a Church that is highly visible in Ballymena, St Patrick’s has a responsibility to be a vibrant Christ-centred presence at the centre of the town.
With these thoughts in mind, here are the new ministries unveiled for Ballymena Parish on Vision Sunday.
- A ‘New Life’ Service at St Patrick’s Church in Castle Street. This will be held every week at 10:00am from Sunday, 5th November 2017. This is intended to be more accessible than some of the more traditional Church of Ireland services. It will feature more contemporary worship music, make use of technology and be mindful of children, teenagers and adults. As part of the changes, the Sunday School at St Patrick’s will move to this service.
Mark is keen to stress that the New Life service is being developed in addition to and not instead of the traditional meetings within the Parish. Early morning Communion and Prayers will be held at 8.15am. This is followed by New Life at 10:00am, then more regular services at 11.30am and 6.30pm.
- A Ballymena Town Centre Chaplaincy Programme: This is aimed primarily at the business community. It will entail a programme of regular, yet courteous, unobtrusive visits to local shops, offices and other workplaces simply to encourage them as they serve the community. The heart behind this project is to be a prayerful and supportive presence within the local commercial sector. To share their burdens, joys and let them know that the Church cares about them. Initially, Mark and Dennis will undertake the leg-work themselves but would be very open to other people with a heart for this outreach to become involved whether they are members of the Parish or involved in other Churches.
- An Intensive Visitation Campaign: Initially, this will provide an opportunity for the Ministry Team to reconnect with people who are already ‘on the books’ of the Parish, but who have drifted away for various reasons. On a wider level, the campaign hopes to reach every home within the greater Ballymena area to offer Prayer Ministry with no strings attached. This may be prayer for specific people, situations, worries or anxieties and even for healing because God is a gracious and merciful God. Again, Mark and Dennis will pioneer this ministry but are very willing to see other members of the Parish or like-minded Churches to become involved. They are also careful to say that they are not going out to take people from other fellowships nor will they visit any home where they are not wanted.
- On a different note, it is hoped that the Anglican Church at Ballyclug will be used more regularly as a venue. A place where the best of up-and-coming Christian songwriters and performers would be given a platform to deliver their material and be a blessing to those who attend.
- Meanwhile, St Columba’s building, on the Doury / Grove Road will be used for some elements of the ‘New Life’ services. It is already a thriving centre for the various sections of the Scouting and Girl Guide movements. The intention is to launch a series of other youth events which are fun, engaging and very deliberately missional in content, making St Columba’s a place of spiritual challenge and spiritual growth for the young people, parents or grandparents who use the building.
Mark and Dennis would love to hear from anyone who is keen to impact positively on these new ministries. Their contact details can be found on the church website here. You can also reach them via their Facebook page here.