Presbyterian Women Annual Meeting
Around 1,600 women from across Ireland gathered together recently for the Presbyterian Women Annual Meeting and Evening Celebration. PW is a part of PCI’s women’s ministry.This annual event was held in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s (PCI) Assembly Buildings in Belfast.
Launching ‘Beautiful’, the annual theme for 2018/2019, which is taken from Psalm 27:4, this year’s Home and Overseas projects were also unveiled. The Overseas Special Project will raise funds to support the work of the International Justice Mission (IJM), a global organisation that protects the poor from violence in the developing world.
PW will be supporting IJM as they strive to address the issue of cybersex trafficking. This is a new and devastating form of slavery and a rapidly growing problem as internet access increases everywhere. The Home Special Project will raise funds to support the work of the Council for Social Witness’s newest residential care home, Trinity House, located in Garvagh. Last year, over £500,000 (€591,000) was raised by PW members for mission both at home in Ireland and overseas, including the training of three new student deaconesses.
Each of the 465 PW Groups seek to encourage women to become Christians, to live for Jesus and to actively reach out to others at home and overseas. Incoming PW President Lynda Stothers, a member of Mountpottinger Presbyterian Church in Belfast, explained how she was looking forward to representing PW among women in the wider Church and encouraging groups to play their part in equipping and enabling women to become and grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.
“Over a period of 37 years of involvement with PW I have enjoyed watching women grow in their faith and in service for God. The love and support of PW fellowship at every level encourages women to see that they have a vital part to play in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, in the workplace, the home, the community and the world.”
“At the core of our organisation is the fact that there is the most beautiful message we can share – that God loves all of us so much that Jesus came to suffer and die and be raised from death in order that our relationship with Him is restored. That brings about a beauty, which is about more than how we look or what we achieve, rather it is about His beauty reflected in how we live our lives. Over the next year, I hope to be inspired by our PW groups, and to bring them inspiration and support from the PW Panel,” Lynda said.
Attending the event, the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Rt. Rev. Dr. Noble McNeely said, “My theme for 2017-18 has been ‘Everyday Disciples’ and as Florence and I have visited many congregations and shared in PW services across Ireland, we have seen how the women of PW have been demonstrating what it means to be an ‘Everyday Disciple’ in their service of the Church and in numerous ways in the wider community.”
“The projects supported by PW are incredibly important. Support this year for International Justice Mission and the combating of the disturbing crime of cybersex trafficking displays PW’s concern for the problem of sexual abuse of children. Providing funding to tackle this worldwide problem demonstrates the grace and compassion of disciples of a merciful Saviour.”
“I am also delighted to see that the Home Special Project this year will raise funds for Trinity House in Garvagh. I had the wonderful duty of opening the new home last year. It is an outstanding place, modern and well equipped to meet all the needs of the residents. I am intrigued by the idea of providing a vintage cafe in the garden and look forward to visiting it.”
The guest speaker at this year’s Presbyterian Women Annual Meeting and Evening Celebration was Kate Patterson.
Guest speaker Kate Patterson, an author and part time school chaplain based in West London, spoke at both meetings on the newly launched theme of ‘Beautiful’, which is based on Psalm 27:4 – ’…that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple’.
Outlining the content of her talks, Kate said, “The theme of both sessions is ‘Beautiful’. In a world where beauty is an industry and an obsession, we are called to gaze on the beauty of the Lord. In Psalm 27, David said that it was top of his prayer list. Why is it so important? Because when we gaze on the Lord, we find that His face is shining on us. He wants us near. We were made to know Him. What could matter more?”
“In the evening celebration, we will consider our calling to ‘shine, for the glory of the Lord is upon us!’ The trouble is that we often don’t feel very shiny and disqualify ourselves from our calling. But the great encouragement is that God places treasure in clay jars like us. What’s the treasure? The light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ! As we live in the light of Gods glory, gazing on Him, we reflect it and shine with His beauty in a dark world.”
Outgoing PW President, Elma Leeburn, spoke briefly about her trip to the Middle East in January where she met Dr. Alia Abboud of the Lebanese Society for Educational Social Development. During the meeting she interviewed Dr. Abboud about the Society’s work in the Middle East and North Africa, which focuses on training and resourcing a growing network of churches and individuals throughout the region.
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