Dear Friends,

I had an invitation to speak at another church recently. It was a return visit after Dr. Stephen Rodgers, the pastor of King’s Way Church in Dunmurry came to visit our church and speak throughout Holy Week.

The worship style would be quite different in King’s Way but I found it to be a beautiful experience. Everyone was really friendly and welcoming and I got into conversation with someone who had been one of the founding Elders of the church when it was established almost 50 years ago. He told me they had prayed for a number of things for their new church. They prayed that it would be multigenerational and have people from 0-90 who would see this as being their church family. They prayed that it would have members from many nations and all would feel welcome. They prayed too that it would be a place that reached into the local community with the love of Jesus.

I really loved these aspirations when I heard about them and when I arrived I was invited to pray before the service with Stephen their pastor. We went to a room upstairs and next door there was a kids’ programme running for young children as they gathered to learn more about God together, rather similar to our Sunday School programme. There were people from many nations present. People shared in the service from Germany and from Nigeria and young people from an Indian background I think operated the technology. There were young people leading the worship and older people got up to share during an open time of sharing and there was a real sense of all the generations being together and being part of one family of faith.

I recently read an editorial in the Church of Ireland Gazette. It told the story of a beautiful church in Glencolumbcille in Donegal. The church serves a small congregation but attendance is swelled during the summer months from holidaymakers and those who maybe own holiday homes in the area. The church suffered financially during the pandemic and is now in a perilous financial position. They were appealing to people making important decisions about the viability and survival of churches to recognise the value of this church to its local community.

In some of the remote and beautiful parts of our country, churches depend greatly on the support of the local community and the presence of holidaymakers and tourists to make ends meet. That’s why I always encourage people at this time of year, if they are fortunate enough to be getting away on holiday, to support the local church. Your presence can bring great encouragement and important financial resources into small local churches. It also offers the opportunity sometimes to worship in a style that is different to what you are accustomed to and this can be a very enriching and positive experience. We ourselves are always delighted to welcome visitors among us and their presence and participation really enhances our worship.

During the summer months we hope to continue our Wednesday Holy Communion with prayers for those who are sick at 10.30am and our time of prayer and Biblical reflection over Zoom each Thursday night at 7pm.

On behalf of Evgan, Katya, Inna, Alina and Arina could I say thank you to everyone for their generosity and kindness. Our Ukrainian friends have found their furnished house has been a real source of delight and sanctuary after the awfulness of recent months and they are slowly adjusting to life in Belfast. There are lots of things that are very different and they are hoping to immerse themselves in language learning over the coming months. To that end we are exploring the possibility with volunteers and other churches of offering some English lessons in the church hall over the summer months.

Could I wish everyone a really good Summer. I hope you get time for rest and refreshment whether at home or further afield and wherever you go, remember the local church would love you to come and share their worship.

With very best wishes.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Pierce (Rector)

Telephone 02890 793822