Mrs Phyllis Linton has just retired after 33 years as Deaconess at West Presbyterian Church in Ballymena.
Her lengthy service, which is something of a record in church circles, began in September 1988.
The move into ‘full time’ Christian service was made after an eight-year career working as a Civil Servant at Stormont.
It will come as no surprise to learn that the friendly Newry native is able to recall ‘so many’ standout moments from her years with the Ballymoney Road fellowship.
She began by saying: “I think the main ones have been leading people to the Lord and there have been lots of those over the years. The joy of seeing people come to know the Lord as their Saviour has been the biggest highlight.
The second thing has been watching people grow in their faith and use their gifts for the Lord as well as seeing how amazing they become under God’s transformation”, she added.
Phyllis is keen to acknowledge the role that her husband, David has played in her life and work.
“He was already a member of the congregation although it took me a while to find him! I must say the best thing that ever happened in my life was marrying David. He has become a real partner not only as my husband but in the ministry as well and I really couldn’t have done this job without his support over the years.”
Phyllis said she will miss the team at West Church Ballymena
As retirement beckons, Phyllis admits that she will miss the ‘fantastic’ staff team at West Church, all of whom have gifts which compliment each other’s talents brilliantly.
Phyllis admits: “I will miss the day to day things of ministry, particularly visiting people at home and in hospital. Those relationships are very special and precious. People make life what it is so often through the relationships you build with them. It is a privilege to be part of people’s lives and to have them trust you enough to share their inner-most thoughts and confidences.”
She also said: “I would love to thank all of the congregation who have made me part of the family at West. They have given me such joy and a peace in my work every day as I spend time with them.”
The retiring Deaconess had particularly warm words for Rev Daniel Kane, who has led the Ministry Team at West Church for 19 years:
“Daniel has been the best boss any Deaconess could ever have. He is a great man of vision but more than anything he enables staff to grow in their faith and to use the God-given gifts with which they have been supplied. He sets you free to do ministry.”
Phyllis and David are about to go on a walking holiday to the Alps. Other than that, she plans to enjoy a bit of reading, spending time with her family and she is looking forward to seeing what the Lord asks her to do in the days ahead.
Phyllis added: “That excites me because I feel that this is just a new chapter in my life, and I know that God and I will spend a lot more time working together in the future.”
Warm tributes were paid to Phyllis Linton at an emotional evening at West Church
During a warm and emotional final evening, warm tributes were paid to Phyllis for her faithful and fruitful ministry over these years by members of the congregation as well as the Rev Daniel Kane who spoke highly of Phyllis as a close friend and colleague who had exercised a Spirit-led ministry as she is someone who listens to God and obeys what He says, even if it meant breaking with convention on more than one occasion. A substantial cheque was presented to Phyllis as a leaving gift from the congregation and everyone enjoyed a light lunch in the Church Hall afterwards to mark the occasion. Best wishes and prayers were extended to Phyllis along with her husband David for a long and full retirement.
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