As lockdown restrictions gradually ease, congregations need to consider how they will begin to resume activities and what practical steps need to be taken to allow them to do so responsibly within the regulations determined by government public health bodies.
These documents are designed to assist kirk sessions as they think through and prepare to lead congregations in the journey from lockdown.
Two accompanying resources are drawn from the content contained here and are also available for download:
• a Resumption of activities checklist, intended to aid practical preparations for reopening
• a Stay safe at church guide setting out the responsibilities of every member on return.
These documents attempt to cover the basic principles to be applied as known at present. Remember, further guidelines on specific matters will be issued in due course.
Tides is a simple yet powerful resource to help develop regular rhythms of Bible reading. As part of the vision to resource whole life disciples across our church, the aim of Tides is to help God’s people discover afresh what regular engagement with God and His word can mean for their lives.
Tides aims to fuel the devotional lives of ordinary disciples through a rhythm of daily devotions that is accessible to all. Each weekday morning, Tides provides you with a section of God’s word to read, a short reflection sharing what this could mean for your life, and a simple way for you to respond. This is a home-grown resource, created and written by contributors from right across the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and currently being accessed by almost 4,000 subscribers.
Thankyou to everyone who has recently been in touch with Abbey Congregation. We hope that you are able also to access our on line resource services each Sunday. There are ways to contact one another during the week and please feel free to message us if you wish to speak with someone.
Covid-19 Abbey Arrangements
As a direct result of the Government’s announcement in respect of the Covid-19 Virus protocols; and to avoid any confusion with regard to Abbey’s arrangements, Session offers the following:
Regarding Sunday Services –
- There will be NO morning service on Sunday 15th, 22nd, and 29th March
- We are going to make use of our web site primarily with support on Facebook and WhatsApp to supply you with some aspects of the Sunday services and other ‘helps’ which you may use at home.
- Sunday Services from April will be advised
Regarding Lent Series –
- There will be NO Lent Series until further notice
- We encourage those of you who have the Proximity Book to continue each section on your own (as per the course) and to complete what you can of the other sections
- If you would like to participate in the course and do not yet have a Proximity Book, please contact Rev. Alan Boal who will supply copies
Regarding Midweek Reading Romans –
- There will be NO Midweek until further notice
- We encourage those of you who have the Reading Romans Book to continue with successive sections on your own (Alan we supply handouts to accompany each week via e-mail, so please ensure he has your e-mail address if you wish to receive these)
- If you would like to participate in the course and do not yet have a Reading Romans book, please contact Rev. Alan Boal who will supply copies
Regarding Oasis Day –
- Due to the closure of the Margaret Aylward Centre until after Easter, the March Oasis Day has been cancelled
New Committee Meeting –
- The Committee Meeting set for Tuesday 24th March is cancelled until further notice
Regarding Pastoral Emergencies/Care –
- If you have a pastoral emergency; require some pastoral care; or require the services of the Minister, please either phone (01-8378600) or e-mail Revalanjboal@gmail.com (note the new e-mail address) beforehand. Every effort will be made to attend to your needs.
Keeping in Contact –
- Under the current restrictions some of our members could feel very isolated, lonely and fearful. Please maintain contact with each other via phone, e-mail, and social media.
- If you haven’t already done so, please sign up to our WhatsApp Group contact Ruth or Alan
Helping Others –
- The shops, pharmacies and other outlets will remain open. So please check with church members, neighbours, friends and family to see if you can help them in any practical way. If you or someone you know needs particular and or practical help please contact us.
Maintaining Church Finances –
- You will appreciate that Abbey still needs finances coming in to meet our on-going obligations. To miss three weeks of Weekly Freewill Offering and Cash Offerings is a serious blow to our cash-flow. With that in mind we would ask as many of you as possible to consider an alternative way of making payments. Here are some suggestions:
|By Cheque:||By Direct Debit:|
|By Electronic Transfer:|
- Please contact us for details on how to do this
Thank you all for your support during this time. Let’s commit ourselves to pray for one another and especially to hold up in prayer the following:
- Our Government and political leaders
- Our Health Workers
- Our Emergency Services
- Those who are most vulnerable: the elderly, those with underlying health conditions
- Those whose family life is now under greater stress (especially homeless families)
- Those whose businesses are now under considerable strain
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4: 4-9)
On Saturday February 29th we took the opportunity of an extra day in the year to hold our AGM, it was a useful morning to look back on the year that has past and consider the opportunities and challenges ahead whilst enjoying coffee and scones together. copies of the AGM reports and Finacial reports are available from the office or church.
JOHN CHAPTER 15
We give thanks to Almighty God for bringing us through another year. New faces show up fairly often; be it folk who want to become members or visitors who come on a one-off. They are most welcome, and we hope that they are enriched with the message of God’s love for us.
Our Minister, Rev. Alan Boal, and his wife Ruth have been with us now for 21 years. In that time, we have had very big changes in the congregation. We remain grateful to them for their continued energy and service in Jesus’ Name.
A SPECIAL BIRTHDAY
Helen Dunbar, who is a resident of Mount Taber Nursing Home in Sandymount and member of Abbey, celebrated her 104 th birthday in November. An afternoon tea party was arranged for the residents of Mount Tabor.
Our much-loved and highly respected brother, Robert Poynton, passed away to Higher Glory in March 2019. Robert was a member of Abbey for over 70 years; having been baptized here shortly after his birth. An Elder of the church for many years, Robert went on to become a Clerk of Session who undertook his many and varied responsibilities with precision and passion. The time and work Robert put into Abbey says a lot of what Abbey meant to him. Robert was very obliging; always willing to help with anything that had to be done, no matter how high he had to climb or how low he had to crawl. One of his qualities was his time he had to listen to and help in any way he could. Our deepest sympathy goes to his loving wife Sandra, his son Kyle, daughter Joanna and granddaughters. Robert may have left a big hole in the congregation, but we know that there is a far bigger hole in their hearts. Thank you, Robert, for your life, example and influence!
Mrs Ruth McDowell, a former member of Abbey, passed away while a resident of Mount Taber Nursing Home in Sandymount on the 16th September 2019. Ruth was an active member of the PWA and the Abbey Bowling Club (a sport in which she excelled). She had a sharp mind and wry sense of humour. Our prayers go out to her husband Robin, and their two sons.
Baby Alliana Msiska, baby Daughter of Julius Msiska and Thokozani Mhango (Mrs Msiska), was born and died on the 22nd July 2019. A funeral service was held in the Rotunda Hospital and attended by members of the Malawian community and some members of Abbey. Our prayers are with Julius and Thokozani.
Mrs Lucy Bell has been an Elder in Abbey for well over 35 years and felt the time had come for her to step back from being an active Elder. Her request to be made Elder Emeritus was presented to the Presbytery of Dublin & Munster and duly sanctioned. Session would like to take this opportunity to thank Lucy for her music ministry over the years; her crystal-clear reading voice at the lectern; her consistent visitation of her district; and her wise head and sound advice. We wish her well in the coming years and know that she will maintain a deep interest in every aspect of Abbey’s life and witness.
CLOSURE OF ABBEY DAY NURSERY
It was with deep sadness that we had to close the Abbey Day Nursery after twenty-seven years of service to the community. Generations of families regarded the nursery as their special place; and many students studying Early Childcare at college found a happy placement and able mentor in Deirdre. Unfortunately, the increasing demands for statutory compliance just became too much and we were left with little choice but to announce closure at the end of August. We want to thank our Manager Deirdre Moore, for her unstinting service and Christian character throughout those twenty-seven years; and to Jennifer Fulton, who provided such invaluable support from the outset of the project.
A farewell dinner for staff past and present was held in the Old Music Shop on 30th November. On that occasion we hosted 31 people; all of whom had made an invaluable contribution to our project. We wish Deirdre, Pirjo and Kaumila our best wishes as they embark upon a new stage in their careers.
For more than seventeen years we have been sharing our premises with the Bethel Romanian Pentecostal Church. This year we added a Malawian Pentecostal Church and an Eritrean Orthodox Church to the family. It is encouraging to realise that so much worship and service is emanating from our church in Parnell Square.
The names of children who were brought to Abbey Presbyterian Church and were baptised during 2019 were: Christabel Mabeti, Oscar Bradshaw and his brother James.
We had two new Communicants who, after completing a Communicants course with the Rev. Alan Boal, were confirmed at our service of Holy Communion on the last Sunday in June 2019: Angela Mtambo and Preston Sidi.
Thomas was our organist for the last 18 years, on Sunday the 25th August he played for the last time in Abbey. Thomas drove from his home in Co. Cavan each Sunday, so he will be much closer to his new job which he took up in early September. Rev. Alan Boal gave a nice talk about Thomas; prayed with him; and presented him with a gift after the service. Instead of tea and coffee after the service, we all had ice-cream and ice-lollies. Thomas is moving on to pastures new and has been appointed as musical director in Cavan Cathedral. We wish Thomas well in his new venture and God’s Blessing in the coming years.
We elected four new Holding Trustees in May; the vote being conducted by our Clerk of Session, Neil Fitzell. Jennifer Fulton, Mark Gorman, William Smith and Frank Burke all reached the quota and were duly elected. Our Church Administrator, Mark Acheson and Rev. Alan Boal are now working with the solicitor to ratify the appointment in accordance with State Law and we hope to have them active early in 2020.
COMMUNION USING THE COMMON CUP
During the service of Holy Communion in June we used the Common Cup with non-alcoholic wine instead of using the small individual glasses. Rev. Boal wanted to highlight God’s goodness and generosity to us. We repeated this in our services of Communion in October and December.
We held a Bible Study each Wednesday evening throughout the year under the title: ‘Reading Romans’. With the guidance of Tom Wright’s ever helpful book, ‘Romans for Everyone’ we managed to scale the challenging mountain that is Paul’s letter. Having completed the first eight chapters, we will continue from chapter nine in January. The plan is to complete the whole of Romans by the summer. Once again, we warmly commend this to you and assure you of a really warm welcome (and some crazy digressions).
SHARED LUNCHES on the first Sunday of the month, after morning worship, we have a ‘bring & share’ lunch with members of the congregation and visitors. These have become such a fixture in our year that they almost happen by themselves; or so it seems. In fact, many people do a lot of work behind the scenes preparing food, setting up and clearing tables, and cleaning the hall afterwards. We are grateful to those who put effort into this time of fellowship, but we would really encourage others to turn up at 10:00am to do the donkey work of lugging tables and chairs to the required areas. On several occasions Ruth has been left to do this on her own. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll have plenty of food to enjoy! We also give special mention to those who contributed to our very successful ‘Africa Day’ celebration. The colourful clothes were matched by the wonderful selection of traditional dishes. A repeat venture is surely on the cards.
We conducted a series of evening devotions during Holy Week, which included for the first time an Agape Meal and Communion on Maundy Thursday. This was a feast for body and soul; and tradition we hope to continue in the years to come. On the evening of Good Friday, we held our evening service in the sanctuary and celebrated the Risen Christ on Easter Morning, hosting the Inner-City Churches Breakfast and celebrating Communion in our morning service.
Oasis Days are held once a month on a Saturday in the Margaret Aylward Centre in Glasnevin. We had a total ten Oasis Days this year and due to their success, we have planned to repeat the exercise in 2020. We have been so warmly received and encouraged by the staff at the Centre and would especially wish to thank Noirin for her enthusiastic and gracious hosting. The programme followed our Parables Series in church and there was opportunity for deeper contemplation and personal prayer during the day. Each day began and ended with a short liturgy.
We are very grateful to Ruth who produced such wonderful lunches and the ever-popular sandwiches went down a treat. We’d encourage you all to attend at least one Oasis Day in 2020.
Many of you by this stage will know our Artist-in-Residence, Bethany Garvey-Williams. Bethany has continued to develop her craft in between part-time work (to pay those inevitable bills), and during the year she spearheaded a pre-Oasis Day and Oasis Day approach to the parables. These were very much hands-on affairs that encouraged us to discover our inner-artists through collage, clay and glass-painting. Much of the output formed an informal exhibition at our Pentecost Service. However, the attention-catcher went to the red bus stop Bethany had created to depict the Pentecost idea of ‘Waiting.’ The children especially took to this and spent all of the service in graffiti mode. Banksy beware!
Two Belfast Bible College interns came to us in May: Ciara Watson and Hunter McCullagh from Newtownards, Co. Down. Rev. Alan Boal set out a programme for the months that Kira and Hunter were with us. This focused on the interface between Christianity and the Arts and required both students to undertake field visits as well as participation in our congregation programme. We are pleased to report that connections have been maintained and Kira has made several visits to Abbey since.
ANNUAL LEAVE – REV. Alan Boal
During Rev. Boal’s annual leave in July Church Services were led by:
7th July-REV. John Farris.
14th July-Very Rev. Dr. Trevor Morrow
21st July-Jane Burn (Christian Aid) – service led by Neil Fitzell
28th July Layth Thomas.
Rev. Boal returned to us from his annual leave on the 4th August.
Again, Heritage Week was something that our church took part in. The doors were opened from Monday 19 th August to Saturday 24 th. The Heritage Week was organised by Ruth Boal, with literature, posters, photographs and history of the congregation on public display. Ruth organised several folks to come in each day to welcome visitors. Tea and coffee with cake and biscuits were available as well. All together we welcomed 780 people through the doors. We hope and pray that people went away touched and blessed by their visit.
HARVEST THANKSGIVING SERVICE
We had our Harvest Service on the 13 th October and the congregation brought tinned foods and non- perishable food items and toiletries. The next day we delivered these to the Alice Leahy Trust which is in Bride Road in the Liberties. This Trust has been in operation over 40 years and it has been helping the poor and needy in Dublin in all that time. A great organisation who do great work. A letter was sent from them to Alan Boal shortly after, thanking members of Abbey for their kindness and generosity.
ADVENT & CHRISTMAS
For four weeks in Advent we studied ‘Humbug and Happiness’; an original course based on the classic Christmas movie, A Christmas Carol. We watched excerpts of the 1960’s film before discussing several themes: (1) The Chain of Life; (2) In the Past; (3) Living Now; and Future…. Present.
There are many similar approaches to a vast range of films, and we hope to repeat the exercise two or three times in 2020. On the First Sunday in Advent we had a celebration of Holy Communion. On Christmas Morning we held a service of thanksgiving and praise at the earlier time of 10:00am.
MUSIC & DANCE The High Kirk Praise Band from High Kirk in Ballymena took part in our service on the 3rd February and the service was followed by a shared lunch. Randall Flinn an American dancer, choreographer and lecturer in Christianity and the Arts, gave a lecture in Abbey on his dance, choreography and his Christian belief. Randall will be returning to Abbey, bringing his dance troupe with him. Rev. Alan Boal will be in contact with Randall to organise ways in which we can collaborate further. The Peoples College Choir based in Parnell Square; along with a ladies barbershop choir called The Notabelles from Dublin and a choir called the Cor Meibion Dyffryn Peris Male Voice Choir from Llanberis in Wales gave a concert in Abbey on the 30th October. It was well attended and very enjoyable.
Our Communication Sub-committee set up our Abbey Friends on WhatsApp. It’s very popular and a great way of keeping in contact; and of course, getting reminders of different things that have happened and are about to happen in Abbey. The list of folk who are part of this worthwhile group is getting larger each week. This was a great idea which has gone from strength to strength.
Session gives a big “Thank You” to our church administrator, Mark Acheson. Mark is a great asset who does a great deal of work behind the scenes. The work Mark does is very much appreciated by our Session and we warmly commend him to your prayers; especially has he recuperates from his surgery and returns to work in the New Year.
A BIG THANK YOU – A big “Thank You” to all in Abbey who helped during the year: doing tasks big and small. It is very much appreciated.
Parabola’ – Paint and multi-media art exhibition
Bethany Garvey-Williams our artist in residence hosted her first solo exhibition from the opening night on Thursday January 31st to Sunday February 2nd . A response to our series on the Parables, brought some interesting conversations and the nursery room was transformed to a tranquil space with the visual ideas in Bethany’s expressions and art work. We hope to repeat similar events. The weekend has bought success both to Bethany and positivity to the first days of 2020
Thankyou to Bethany for all her work to those who helped both family, friends and members of Abbey congregation.
(Photos of the Parabola Exhibition credit: Sam Boal)
About this Event https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/parabola-art-exhibition-tickets-91642979619?aff=ebdssbeac
Bethany Garvey-Williams presents ‘Parabola’ – an exhibition of work completed as artist in residence at Abbey Church, Parnell Square. Inspired by the narrative tradition of parables, she juxtaposes the familiar with the complex, comparing and contrasting ideas in visual form, using paint and multi-media.
Launch Night is Thursday January 30th open from 6pm-8pm
and for the weekend the exhibition will be open
January 31st 12pm-6pm
February 1st 12pm-6pm
February 2nd 1pm-4pm
Exhibition is free
Another beautiful start to January as we had our first Oasis day of the New Year. Taking some time to reflect on the Psalms. Oasis days are our monthly retreat days usually taking place at the Margaret Aylward centre in Glasnevin and everyone is welcome. Please contact us if you would like to join us.
New Year Communion Service January 5th at 11am .Please join us and stay for Bring and Share lunch afterwards
Christmas DayService 10 am on Christmas Day
Advent Oasis Day
9.30pm-2pm in the beautiful surroundings at the Margaret Aylward Centre Glasnevin.
This is a lovely opportunity to take some time out and space especially when our lives are so busy at this time of year.
A light lunch is provided
Advent and Christmas :
Humbug and Happiness is an original Advent course based on the classic Christmas movie A Christmas Carol in four weekly study sessions, structured around key scenes from the film, it explores the following themes:
- The Chains of Life – living through difficult times and personal circumstances.
- In the Past-things from the past that hold us back today.
- Living Now- being aware of God’s call for us in the present.
- Future … Perfect? – understanding God’s plan for our whole life: yesterday, today and tomorrow.
We will start the evening with Tea & Coffee at 7pm
Our Annual Harvest Service took place on October 13th. Members bought gifts to be donated to the Alice Leahy Trust helping homelessness. Plants were also distributed to members and friends who are unable to be with us as often as they used to be. It is always special to be thankful of all we have and in some small way to pass on that thankfulness in tangible ways. A big thankyou to all those involved in the extra tasks needed for this day particuarly to Sandra Poynton and all her faithfulnes in this.
At the end of August we said good bye and farewell to our Organist Thomas Hanley as he takes up his position as musical director at Cavan Cathedral.
During the summer we welcomed tow interns from Belfast Bible College. it was good to have them around and we hope they gained more insight to inner city church life, cross cultural ministry and the arts.
Our church family meets every first Sunday in the month for a bring and Share lunch, this is a very popular event and as well as enjoying food from around the world, we enjoy getting to know one another over table fellowship. A new idea for September-we will be celebrating one another and anyone with a birthday that month will come to the front of the church as we recognize them and pray for them . Afterwards we will have tea coffee and cake.
Reading Romans. You can join us on Wednesday evenings as we read Romans and seek to understand with lively and friendly discussion. Led by our minister Alan Boal with tea and coffee to begin. This is a great way to be with fellow believers and to share together in the middle of the week 7pm 5 Gardiner Row.
With great sadness and regret we had to close our well established nursery. Under the leadership of Deirdre Moore over 27 years our nursery had been a beacon of good practice, a warm and loving setting for children, providing early education with formative social skills and an acclaimed learning field for students from childcare courses and colleges, including DCU and DIT. It was highly regarded in the community around Abbey and served families as a welcome to them also providing childcare for those new into our country. Restrictive regulations after inspection, that went beyond what our building could provide made it impossible for us to achieve the ability to remain open. Abbey is indebted to Deirdre for her love, her dedication and her maintenance of the high quality of the Abbey Day Nursery and we are mindful of the impact that this decision made both to her, to staff and to all the families who relied upon it. We are disappointed that a service that was running well fell victim to regulations that do not take into consideration the variety of childcare settings and seek to allow more flexibility to cover them within the guidelines. We love the community from where our church resides and we hope that we will always be faithful to serving and transforming lives as we seek to live out our faith in this part of the city.
It was with great saddness that we announced the passing of our dear friend and elder at Abbey. Robert G.E. Poynton on the 22nd March 2019, peacefully surrounded by his family and in the wonderful care of the staff of St Vincent’s Private Hospital. He was a dearly loved husband and best friend of Sandra and a fond brother in Christ amongst us. His work and committment to Abbey was immense and the contribution he made to both the church and the community are sorely missed and gratefiully remembered by our church family. A Service of Thanksgiving was held in Abbey Presbyterian Church on 25th March 2019.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]