The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) brought messages of hope and encouragement during his virtual tour of Ballymena Presbytery this week.
Rt Rev Dr David Bruce began his week by meeting colleagues from the area to encourage them after what has been a difficult 12 months.
He said: “Those meetings were an opportunity for me to engage personally with each of our ministers and hear their stories from the last year so that we can encourage each other and so that I can say something specific to them and pray with them.”
“I have been encouraging all our ministers to do the basics right, to keep their relationship with God first, by reading their Bible and saying their prayers to put it very simply. Those things are the bedrock of how we stay close to God.
“Having done that I also encouraged them to look at the positives that a disruptive event like the pandemic brings about. God says in His Word that as He is working his purposes out, nothing we can do can hinder that. In Acts 4: 28, we discover that those who conspired against God’s Holy servant Jesus were able only to do what His power and will had decided should happen beforehand. Even when bad circumstances, such as Good Friday happened, God is no less working his purposes out”, added Dr Bruce.
In a message which was pre-recorded for this tour, the Moderator spoke to congregations across Ballymena Presbytery during a ‘virtual’ midweek rally.
Chaired by the Moderator of Presbytery, Rev Noel Mulholland, this also featured individuals and praise groups from across Ballymena. In his address, Dr Bruce spoke about the importance of fellowship.
He said: “With fellowship being absent we may come to think of it quietly as somewhat unnecessary if we have come to manage without going along to Church. However, I want people to see the importance of face-to-face fellowship when restrictions lift and we are allowed back to Church. Fellowship is the essence of our relationship with God and it is the essence of our effectiveness in mission. Paul’s teaching on fellowship in 1 Corinthians begins and ends with our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Anything that we do bonded together as the people of God all flows from and emerges from that fundamental fellowship with Jesus Christ in the first place.”
Due to current circumstances, Dr Bruce has been unable to carry out the usual range of face-to-face engagements that a touring Moderator would normally do. He will however, travel to Wellington Presbyterian Church, Ballymena to conduct an online service on Sunday 7th March 2021.
Explaining why this opportunity meant so much to him, he said: “My history with Wellington goes back a bit because in September of 1985 I became the Assistant Minister in Wellington Street as it was then, under the ministry of Rev David Alderdice. My wife, Zoe and I were just back from honeymoon and we were straight off the plane and into life and work in Wellington Street. We were there for two years, from 1985-87, so at least some of the people from that time are still there although the congregation moved out of the Town Centre to Galgorm some years ago so it will be a real joy for me to be back among the people of Wellington again this coming Sunday.”
You can watch the service from Wellington Presbyterian Church on Sunday, 7th March on their website here.