Dear Friends,

We normally associate the month of November with some very significant occasions for remembering in our parish life. On 5th November at 7pm at our evening service we will be taking the opportunity to remember with thanksgiving those associated with our parish who have died in the past 12 months. Families will be invited to this special service and, while it is always a very poignant occasion, it’s good to have the opportunity to think about the Christian hope of a life beyond this life.

On the following Sunday, 12th November at 11am, we will have our annual Service of Remembrance when we remember those who gave their lives during times of war and in subsequent conflicts since. It’s an important occasion to remember those who paid that ultimate price for our freedom and to pray for peace in troubled parts of our world. That’s a big need as we hear the terrible news of ongoing loss of life and immense suffering in Ukraine, in Israel and Palestine at the present time.

As we remember at these special services, which will most likely take place in the church hall as the work continues on our church building and grounds, there are a number of other ways we remember at this time of year.

I am very mindful of a lot of appeals and collections for situations of need and charities and our church is involved in quite a number of these. I am constantly struck by the generosity of those who want to help in whatever way they can and I wanted to make a few suggestions in this month’s letter.

With the best will in the world, it’s not possible to do everything and to support everything. I, therefore, want to suggest praying about the things you have a particular heart or concern for and, if you are in a position to do so, make a contribution to that. We are continuing to navigate a cost of living crisis and I’m sure many households have noticed the steep rise in prices as they pay grocery bills and purchase things like school uniforms, fuel, gas and electricity. We have a long standing relationship with Christians Against Poverty and Heather, our CAP Champion, has included an article in this month’s magazine by James Myles who oversees the work of CAP in this area. The ways to contribute are outlined in James’ article. He is coming to speak at our morning service on Sunday 26th November.

Some people will have already been involved in our Harvest appeal for tinned goods through The Larder food bank in East Belfast and those contributions have made an enormous difference to people who find themselves in very challenging circumstances locally.

Others have filled shoe boxes through the Samaritan’s Purse, which will make their way across the world to children who might not otherwise receive any gifts over Christmas.

Some people, too, have been involved in the Bishops’ Appeal collection for those affected by the floods in Libya or some are longtime supporters of the work of Fields of Life in East Africa.

There are others, who may not have much disposable income due to personal circumstances, but who volunteer incredibly generously with their time. Their prayers and these contributions are every bit as important and meaningful as financial ones.

One of the areas of parish life that we place great significance upon is the care of parishioners who are going through tough times for all sorts of reasons or who might be housebound or living at this time in nursing homes or sheltered accommodation. At various points, we have had training for those interested in giving time to pastoral visiting and we hope to run some training in this area in December on 3 consecutive Sunday afternoons. We want to familiarise volunteers with the church’s policy on Safeguarding Trust, to do a little training on listening well and praying with and offering spiritual support to those we visit. Many volunteers have great gifts in this area. If it’s something you might be interested in, please speak with Andy or myself as we do all we can to ensure no one feels forgotten or isolated in the things they are dealing with and facing.

As November prompts us to remember people from our parish family who have died and some of the painful times in our shared history, it’s also a time when we remember those in need both locally and globally in different ways.

We remember, as we enter the sacred season of Advent, a time of waiting with expectancy and hope for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. More details on our special Advent services can be found in the magazine.

With very best wishes.

Jonathan Pierce (Rector)

Telephone 02890 793822