Some of Abbey’s congregation is made up of people who are making a home in Ireland but their home is also Cameroon. They have family members living there and are constantly in contact with them. For some of our Abbey family this means that daily they are hearing first hand reports of the danger , fear and atoricities being carried out in this country. As we prepare for Christmas in the comfort of Ireland it is easy to forget that these things are happening or for the world at large to simply never know about them. It is already late but the word has to be out there and international pressure needs to be placed. The people of Cameroon are a part of our abbey family and the church cannot just ignore them. Please pray :
Concern for Cameroon
12.12.2018 | Mission News, Global Mission
In Let’s Pray, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s (PCI) daily prayer points for members, the Church is focusing on the situation in Republic of Cameroon in west Africa today. Violent clashes, with increasing loss of life, is growing between Cameroon’s English-speaking Anglophone community and French-speaking Francophone community.
As Rev Uel Marrs, Secretary to PCI’s Council for Global Mission explained, “Through reports coming via family contacts of Cameroonians who attend Presbyterian churches in the Republic of Ireland, we understand that thousands of people have been displaced as the situation in parts of the country deteriorates, particularly in the Northwest Region and Southwest Region.
“The increasingly violent situation has its origins in the division of the region during various colonial administrations and post-independence settlements. The situation is amounting to a ‘silent civil war’, as some have described it, as that has the potential to be a second Rwanda. Today we wanted to highlight the situation in the country and ask people to pray,” he said.
“Prayer is an essential and powerful part of the Christian life and we are asking people to pray specifically for peace and calm in all areas of Cameroon and for tensions to decrease. For just and fair treatment of all people by the authorities and prayer for help and support for those affected by the violence.”
Speaking about the situation, Rev Alan Boal, minister of Abbey Presbyterian Church in Dublin, who has a number of people attending his Church with family members in the country said, “One member of my congregation recently described the escalating crisis taking place in his region like this, he said that it was ‘a second Rwanda’.
“We have about a dozen Cameroonians in Abbey, mostly English speaking, but some French speaking as well and I have met with a number of them to discuss the situation.
“From what I hear there are government curfews, reports of the gassing and burning of groups of villagers, the destruction of villages and summary executions. Two families report that their villages have been emptied and destroyed. In one place men and boys between the ages of 15 and 50 have left towns and villages in fear of their lives, while women and children prefer to camp out underneath trees rather than risk attack at night.
“These political situations are of course more complex, and our own history shows us that here in Ireland. Prayer for all of our Cameroonian brothers and sisters and the country is of course vital, but there must also be action. It can’t be right for the international community to be so silent.”
If you would like to receive Let’s Pray, PCI’s daily prayer points by email, you can subscribe here.
The 2018 World Development Appeal, Seeking Safety, invites you to learn about and to support Christian Aid’s partner, the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil (CONIC), in the work being done to address gender-based violence, and in particular the work of the Casa Noeli dos Santos safe house in the city of Ariquemes.
Gender-based violence (GBV) is particularly pervasive in Brazil. Recent research has shown that every 24 seconds a woman is beaten by a partner or ex-partner and in a 2017 nationwide survey almost a third of girls and women said that during the previous year they had suffered violence.
The city of Ariquemes in north-western Brazil has a population of a little over 100,000 people, and depends economically on mining, fishing, and logging, with open mining, in particular, seen as the root of much of the violence and inequality in the region which was flooded with workers from out of state. By mid-2010 Ariquemes was facing a serious problem with violence against women and a public meeting was held in which the mayor made a call to see if there was any interest in opening a safe house for women experiencing gender-based violence.
The main film (above) highlights the importance of the work of the Casa Noeli dos Santos safe house in Ariquemes, hearing from Fabiola, who herself has used the services provided there, and also from the driving force behind the work of the safe house, Rev Elineide Ferreira, who shares some of its story as one telling the everyday truth of what it is to provide sanctuary in a dangerous world.
This year’s World Development Appeal will support Christian Aid’s partner, the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil (CONIC), in the work being done to address gender-based violence, and in particular the work of the Casa Noeli dos Santos safe house in the city of Ariquemes.
Church leaders meet Tánaiste
25.10.2018 | Moderator, Public Affairs
Following their meeting with Northern Ireland’s political parties at the end of September and with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP earlier this month, the leaders of the main Churches in Ireland met the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney TD today (25 October) at Iveagh House, Dublin.
Following the meeting at the Department for Foreign Affairs, the Church leaders said, “As part of the ongoing dialogue in relation to restoring the devolved institutions to Northern Ireland, following the collapse of the Assembly in January 2017, we welcomed the opportunity today to meet with Mr Coveney as an important part of those discussions.
“In our previous meetings with the political parties and the Secretary of State over the last few weeks, we have impressed upon them our concerns that the absence of devolved government in Northern Ireland was affecting many areas of community life, the delivery of public services and cross border co-operation. We conveyed these concerns to the Tánaiste, while emphasising the importance of continuing to build relationships and trust among all concerned, even in these difficult times. We also welcomed the opportunity to hear the Irish government’s assessment of the current situation.
“While not underestimating the challenges involved in moving forward, we emphasised the importance of dialogue and finding the space that encourages engagement and participation. As we had done with the political parties and the Secretary of State previously, we reiterated our willingness and desire to assist in the process where we could.”
The Church leaders present were: The Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke (Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland), Rev William Davison (President of the Methodist Church in Ireland), Monsignor Joseph McGuinness, Diocesan Administrator for the Diocese of Clogher (representing The Most Rev Eamon Martin, Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland), Right Rev Dr Charles McMullen (Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland), Rev Brian Anderson, President of the Irish Council of Churches.
Photo: Pictured at Iveagh House in Dublin, during today’s meeting between the leaders of Ireland’s main churches and Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney TD, are (left to right) Fergal Mythen, Director General, Ireland, UK and Americas Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Minister Coveney, Rev William Davison, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, Rev Trevor Gribben, Clerk of the General Assembly and General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, The Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Right Rev Dr Charles McMullen, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Monsignor Joseph McGuinness, Diocesan Administrator for the Diocese of Clogher (representing The Most Rev Eamon Martin, Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland) and Dr Nicola Brady, General Secretary of the Irish Council of Churches.
Clearly the decisions made at our Churches General Assembly have been of significance to many people. Not withstanding that there is a whole wealth of discussion and Good News that comes from our denomination and we do well to keep in context the whole story and the many aspects of our churches life and witness.
You can watch again some of the days discussions here to get a flavour of the week
The media not surprisingly picked up on the more hotly debated subjects during the week and you can watch the discussion regarding decisions made on Friday of the General Assembly:
Faith in a changing world
Writing for the Belfast Telegraph, Very Rev. Dr. Stafford Carson the convener of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s Doctrine Committee explains the purpose of the report that was debated at the Church’s recent General Assembly.
Last week at our General Assembly, which is made up of ministers and elders from our congregations across Ireland, we discussed many topics that resulted in 100 resolutions being affirmed over the four days that we met.
As well as discussing a wide range of issues that included climate change, the political situation here, the situation facing Christians overseas and the challenges facing our education system, we also discussed the Doctrine Committee’s report on what we understand to be a ‘credible profession of faith’ – something that applies to all, regardless of background or orientation – and who want to be communicant members of our Church or have their children baptised.
The report was not about preventing anyone from attending worship, coming into church, receiving communion, or having access to pastoral care. Neither was it about being attracted to someone of the same sex. In the context of the Church’s position on biblical marriage, the report was providing guidance to our ministers and Kirk Sessions with particular reference to couples in same sex relationships.
A credible profession of faith is something that goes to the heart of Christian discipleship. The General Assembly reaffirmed what the Presbyterian Church has always taught, namely that everyone who professes Jesus Christ as Lord are committing themselves to being faithful and obedient followers of Jesus Christ and his teaching. This means that what we profess with our lips, we affirm by the way we live our lives. Ultimately the life of the Christian is lived under the Lordship of Christ.
It is important to remember that marriage and sexual behaviour are not the only areas where Christians may fall short of God’s will for their lives, and our report of was very careful to point this out.
We recognise that following Jesus Christ as Lord often challenges us at the deepest level of our beings. That is why many of the personal issues of Christian discipleship are best discussed confidentially with wise and godly pastors and friends rather than being made a matter for public debate and comment through social media.
The Church offers support and love in the name of Christ to everyone, irrespective of a person’s views, opinions or lifestyle, lovingly pointing people to God’s truth and calling all to live their lives in conformity with His Word.
The Church has a particular responsibility to support all who desire to honour Christ, especially those who in that quest experience significant struggles, whatever they may be. None of us can progress in the Christian life without the support, counsel and encouragement of other Christians and without seeking the ever-sufficient grace of Christ, which He freely gives us.
Looking on and reading much of what has been said and written, it may seem that the Church is out of step with society. That’s not surprising, since the days of the early church, the confession of Jesus Christ as Lord has often placed Christians at odds with their surrounding culture.
That is why the New Testament writers encourage us not to be conformed to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2). We are called to honour and love Christ, even if this means we do come into conflict with society’s prevailing views on this and other issues.
The Bible makes clear what God’s will is for us as sexual beings, and it speaks unambiguously about the nature and purpose of marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman. As followers of Christ, we cannot ignore this clear teaching. Jesus’ own teaching, and his attitude toward the Scriptures, means that they are our final authority in all matters of faith and practice.
In view of what Jesus Christ has done for us by his death and resurrection, and out of love for Him, we should set aside our own choices and preferences willingly, to live in a way that pleases Him who loves us beyond measure.
For Christians, the teaching of Christ in Holy Scripture determines what is appropriate and that is what is reflected in the report of the Doctrine Committee. As everyday disciples of Jesus, we affirm that our commitment to Christ means that we honour Him in everything, in all our relationships and all that we do. That commitment is not designed to exclude or offend anyone. It is not an easy road to travel, but it is an essential part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
Writing in the News Letter today, Presbyterian Moderator, Rt. Rev. Dr. Charles McMullen, reflects on the events of the past week, which he says ‘has witnessed much hurt’. Addressing some of the misunderstandings, Dr. McMullen also talks of needing to ‘somehow combine unconditional love with the absolute truth of God’s Word.’
I think that it was Harold Wilson, the late Prime Minister, who said that ‘a week was a long time in politics’. It can also be said of life in a church.
At last week’s General Assembly there were wide ranging discussions on various pressing issues of our time. Most of the media coverage, however, concentrated on our decision not to send our moderators to future Church of Scotland General Assemblies, given the Kirk’s position on same sex marriage. The Presbyterian Church in Ireland holds to the biblical and global Christian perspective that marriage is between one man and one woman. The Church of Scotland’s trajectory in recent years has been somewhat different.
Our Doctrine Committee also brought guidance in relation to our understanding of a ‘credible profession of faith’ – something that applies to all, regardless of background or orientation – and who want to become communicant members of our Church, or have their children baptised. Simply put, it means that we declare with our lips that Jesus Christ is our Lord and our lifestyle is consistent with His example and teaching.
There have been some misunderstandings as to what was agreed, but nobody is being prevented from coming into Sunday services, or from taking Communion as the Lord’s Table is open to all. In our reformed tradition, baptism has nothing to do with denying children anything, but with the promises parents must be able to take on their behalf – However, this week has witnessed much hurt.
As I said in my opening night address to the Assembly, when we deal with so many complex issues in today’s world, we need somehow to combine unconditional love with the absolute truth of God’s Word. If we err on the side of truth, we become harsh and judgmental and can easily forget that we are dealing with individuals, families and friends.
At the other end of the spectrum, we can run the risk of diluting the high standards of Christian teaching and behaviour to the extent that it becomes meaningless. Jesus had the amazing ability to show grace, but also the ability to bring strong challenging messages. To the woman caught in adultery, for example, he showed compassion and saved her life, but also instructed her to sin no more.
As I reflect on last week’s Assembly, there are two personal comments that I would like to make. When it comes to our human sexuality and the challenges that we face in so many other areas as well, we all stand in greenhouses and none of us should dare to throw the first stone.
Secondly, now that this decision has been taken, more than ever we need to show the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. No outsider will believe in Jesus until an insider treats him or her as a brother or sister. Therein lies the challenge! I am deeply grieved for those who have been hurt, but now even more committed to my theme for the year – ‘Building Relationships: Christ’s love compels us.’
- 4.6.2018 – 7.6.2018
- 7:00 PM – 2:00 PM
- Assembly Buildings, Assembly Buildings, 2-10 Fisherwick Place, Belfast, BT1 6DW
- General Assembly
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland will meet in Belfast from Monday 4th to Friday 8th June.
The General Assembly is the principal decision-making body of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. The weeklong gathering is an important time of coming together, of fellowship, worship, Bible study, celebration and debate where decisions taken will set the direction for the life and ministry of the Church over the coming year and beyond.
The vast majority of its business is open to the public, as are the worship services:
- Tuesday 11.45am – as part of the Assembly Communion Service
- Wednesday 12.15pm
- Thursday 2.45pm
and the Wednesday Evening Celebration at 7.45pm – all are welcome.
Following a resolution passed at last year’s General Assembly to make each more accessible, changes were made to the times that the Assembly would meet, with additional evening sessions being included.
The 2018 General Assembly will meet at the following times:
|Monday, 4th June||7pm – 8.30pm|
|Tuesday, 5th June||10.30am – 9pm|
|Wednesday, 6th June||9.30am – 9.15pm|
|Thursday, 7th June||1.45pm – 9pm|
|Friday, 8th June||9.30am – 2pm|
Attended by upwards of 1,000 ministers and elders from the Church’s 500-plus congregations across Ireland, on the Opening Night, Monday 4th June (which is also open to the public) the Assembly will formally elect and install Rev. Charles McMullen of West Church, Bangor, County Down as Moderator of the General Assembly for 2017/2018.
More details on this year’s General Assembly will follow in the coming weeks on this website and via social media. You will be able to follow events at this year’s Assembly @pciassembly on Twitter using the hashtag #PCIGA18 and @pcimoderator. You can also catch up on Facebook/pciassembly.
30.4.2018 | Moderator, Statements, Public Affairs
The Moderator, Rt. Rev. Dr. Noble McNeely, along with former Moderator and minister emeritus of Lucan Presbyterian Church, Dr. Trevor Morrow, and the Clerk of the General Assembly, Rev. Trevor Gribben, has written to fellow ministers and congregations in the Republic of Ireland outlining the position of the Church in relation to May’s referendum on abortion.
In their letter, which was sent on Wednesday in time for yesterday’s Sunday services, the senior Church figures said that in light of the Government’s clear intention to introduce unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, if the Eighth Amendment is repealed, the Church had concluded that “meaningful protection for the unborn can only be secured if the Eighth Amendment is retained in the forthcoming referendum.
Describing the Government’s proposals as “regressive, incompatible with human dignity and morally unacceptable”, the senior ministers explained that representatives of the Church had written to TDs and Senators in January during the debate on the Oireachtas report on the Eighth Amendment, affirming the value of every human life, while emphasising the importance of care for women, children and families in times of crisis. They said that they had also urged them “to work for a truly progressive Ireland where the weak and vulnerable, including children in the womb, are cherished and protected.”
In writing to every active Presbyterian minister in the jurisdiction, the Moderator and his colleagues said, “As Christians, we see the scriptures speaking consistently of the importance and value of human life, including that of the unborn. On that basis, we are responsible before God to honour the sanctity of human life.
“While recognising that there are mixed views within our Church about the adequacy of the current Constitutional provision, particularly around those exceptional circumstances in which the termination of pregnancy may be necessary, we consider the proposals for unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks to be regressive, incompatible with human dignity and morally unacceptable.”
“Having monitored the developments of recent months closely, the General Council of our Church, acting with the authority of the General Assembly, has concluded that meaningful protection for the unborn can only be secured if the Eighth Amendment is retained in the forthcoming referendum.”
The letter concluded by saying, “We therefore encourage Church members to consider these matters prayerfully and with great care over the coming weeks and to vote in accordance with their conscience.”
You can read the full text of the letter here.
TO ALL ACTIVE MINISTERS AND CONGREGATIONS IN THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
In January, representatives of our Church wrote to members of the Oireachtas, affirming the
value of every human life, emphasising the importance of care for women, children and families
in times of crisis, and urging all to work for a truly progressive Ireland where the weak and
vulnerable, including children in the womb, are cherished and protected.
Since then the Government has pressed ahead with proposals to introduce unrestricted access
to abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, should Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution, the Eighth
Amendment, be repealed.
As Christians, we see the scriptures speaking consistently of the importance and value of human
life, including that of the unborn. On that basis, we are responsible before God to honour the
sanctity of human life.
While recognising that there are mixed views within our Church about the adequacy of the
current Constitutional provision, particularly around those exceptional circumstances in which the
termination of pregnancy may be necessary, we consider the proposals for unrestricted access
to abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy to be regressive, incompatible with human dignity and
Having monitored the developments of recent months closely, the General Council of our
Church, acting with the authority of the General Assembly, has concluded that meaningful
protection for the unborn can only be secured if the Eighth Amendment is retained in the
We therefore encourage Church members to consider these matters prayerfully and with great
care over the coming weeks and to vote in accordance with their conscience.
Yours in Christ
Rt. Rev. Dr. Noble McNeely
Moderator of the General
Rev. Trevor Gribben
Clerk of the General
Very Rev. Dr Trevor Morrow
Convener of the Republic of Ireland Panel, Council for Public Affairs
Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland
21.3.2018 | Statements, Public Affairs
With the official announcement today that Pope Francis will visit Ireland in August, Rev. Trevor Gribben, Clerk of the General Assembly and General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church Ireland said that “many Roman Catholic people both south and north of the border will be very excited and encouraged by the news.” He also said that he had no doubt that many others, “of differing theological or even political views, will want to join with our Roman Catholic neighbours in welcoming today’s news.”
“The announcement today that Pope Francis will visit Ireland as part of the Roman Catholic Church’s World Meeting of Families in August has been long anticipated,” Mr. Gribben said.
“I am sure that many, many Roman Catholic people both south and north of the border will be very excited and encouraged by the news that the leader of their Church will be coming to Dublin for this significant event. I’ve no doubt that many others, of differing theological or even political views, will want to join with our Roman Catholic neighbours in welcoming today’s news.
“The attendance of Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families will greatly enhance the affirmation of the place of the family at the heart of society, and that is to be welcomed.”
Vision for Society Statement: An introduction
21.3.2017 | Public Affairs, Vision for Society, Congregational Life,
The 2016 General Assembly welcomed and adopted the Vision for Society Statement, which seeks to continue to place peacebuilding firmly at the heart of Christian discipleship and the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
At the time, the convener of the Council for Church in Society, Very Rev. Dr. Norman Hamilton said, “This is a symbol of our desire that this statement will both be a stimulus for our engagement with wider society, as well as a powerful symbol that this is a calling of the whole Church to a highly important aspect of Christian and biblical witness.”
The text of the Statement adopted by the General Assembly is as follows:
WE, MEMBERS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN IRELAND,
saved by grace
and called by God to grace-filled relationships,
in the power of the Holy Spirit
as ambassadors of Christ’s Kingdom
in a broken and divided world;
BELIEVE that the Good News of Jesus Christ
challenges and equips us
to develop radically new attitudes and relationships
with our neighbours throughout the whole of Ireland.
WE CONFESS our failure
to live as Biblically faithful Christian peacebuilders
and to promote the counter culture of Jesus
in a society where cultures clash.
ACCORDINGLY, WE AFFIRM Christian peacebuilding
to be part of Christian discipleship
and reassert the Church’s calling
to pursue a peaceful and just society in our day
WE SEEK a more reconciled community
at peace with each other,
where friend and foe,
working together for the common good,
can experience healing
and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.