‘Ministry Taster Day’ at Union Theological College, Belfast

‘Ministry Taster Day’ – Saturday 26th March, 2022

A career is often born through the love of a favourite subject at school, a natural talent or gifting that leads to any number of openings, practical or professional. For some it is to teach, to advise on financial or legal matters, make or fix things, serve others in one of the caring or mediacal professions.

For others, there is a deeper desire to serve that is born of faith. Something a special open day at Union Theological College in Belfast will explore when men and women, who are thinking and praying about becoming ordained ministers in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI), will attend the College’s ‘Ministry Taster Day’ on Saturday 26th March 2022.

Looking forward to the day, and encouraging anyone who would like to find out more about becoming a minister in PCI, Reverend Principal Gordon Campbell, who heads up the College said that 40 individuals had already signed up to the free event. “The Ministry Taster Day will be a valuable opportunity for women and men to discern and explore the call of God upon their lives and consider whether their discipleship may be leading them to ordained ministry in PCI. If you are interested in exploring the Lord’s will for your life, learning more about ministry training, or feel that the Lord may call you to serve Him in this way in the future, I would really encourage you to come along.”

Professor Campbell continued, “The vast majority of PCI’s ministerial students opt to study in Union. If you are thinking and praying about ministry, the Ministry Taster Day will enable you to reflect further on hearing and responding to God’s call to service, get a feel for our Church’s College and its community, meet students currently training for ministry and sample something of what ministerial studies involve. There will also be opportunities to talk to members of staff, we would be delighted to see you.”

Currently PCI has over 500 congregations, served by just over 300 ministers and Union Theological College is the denomination’s principal body for the training of its ministers prior to ordination. The ordained ministry of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland is open to men and women on an equal basis and two first year students will be taking part, sharing their experiences and talking to potential future ministers.

Francine Magill, is a former RE teacher from east Belfast, who lives in Newtownards and worships at Scrabo Presbyterian in the town. Part of the senior management team at Malone Integrated College in Belfast, the mother of three, all of whom are at university, said that for many years she believed that God had been directing her towards ministry. “From a young age He gave me a desire to know more about Him. I enjoyed discovering who God was in Sunday school, holiday bible clubs, GB, and school, and what He had done for me. As soon as I was old enough I began to share this with children and young people in church and at camps.”

Francine continued, “I became an RE teacher, which I was for 26 years, because I wanted to help young people explore the ‘big questions’ in life, but it was while I was at Focusfest, a ministry event for women, that I had a strong conviction that God wanted to speak to me about how He wanted me to become a minister.

“Having listened and prayed, I knew deep down in my spirit that this was always God’s plan for me. Throughout my first year at Union, God has reassured me that I will not be making this journey alone, encouraging me through 1 Timothy 1:7, which reads ‘For I did not give you a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline’,” she said.

'Ministry Taster Day' at Union Theological College, Belfast
Francine Magill and Sam Scott who are both studying for the ministry at Union Theological College and who will be available for a chat at the Ministry Taster Day

While Francine grew up in the Church of Ireland, first year student Sam Scott came from a Congregational Church background in Ballymena, moving to PCI when he became a men’s outreach worker in Eglinton Presbyterian Church in Belfast, “Growing up I have been very fortunate to have been given lots of support and opportunities to get involved with service, leadership, and Bible teaching, throughout my church life,” he said.

“I remember going into my final year at Queen’s and thinking ‘I’d like to work for the church in some capacity, but after something else’. That ‘something else’ didn’t materialise, and it was after reading a piece of scripture that God often speaks to me through, that I realised that I definitely wanted to go for ministry and He was calling me to it. After a two-year Cornhill Training Course of Bible study and preaching, a number of doors opened, one after another, with God leading me to Union.”

Now into their first six months of first year study, Sam said that 10 years after graduating from Queen’s, going back to full-time study was a bit of shock, initially feeling slightly out of his comfort zone. “It is full-time study and in some respects harder than my undergrad course, especially as Kerry-Lee and I have two small kids. But it is rewarding, and really interesting right from the theological study to the practical and pastoral aspects of ministry. The craic’s good too, with the staff going out of their way to help and support you.”

If you would like to attend the Ministry Taster Day on Saturday, 26th March, please register by emailing Reverend Professor David Leach, Professor of Ministry & Director of the Institute for Ministry: d.leach@union.ac.uk

You can find out more about Union Theological College on their website.