The Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has been reflecting on the “incredible work” of unsung heroes across the East Antrim community.
Team spirit, social enterprise and quiet altruism were all referenced as the Rt Rev Dr William Henry thanked the Carrickfegus Presbytery, which takes in Larne and the surrounding area, for the warmth of the welcome on his recent eight-day visit.
Dr Henry said it was “a tremendous opportunity for me to see the incredible work that our churches and people are doing quietly behind the scenes in the name of Jesus”.
He continued: “At the same time, I was also impressed with a number of different organisations that I had the opportunity to visit, all of which are making an impact on the ground and going the extra mile beyond what might be expected of them.
“Larne Football Club was one of them. I witnessed here not just a team spirit, but found a great community spirit and community focus as well, which I think has done much for the town.
“The selflessness of the men and women of the RNLI was inspiring, and for different reasons the work of Christian’s Against Poverty and Access to Employment, great social enterprises, who are making an impact and helping to change people’s lives around, also stood out for me.”
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has just over 210,000 members belonging to 535 congregations. Moderators undertake four presbytery tours and this was Mallusk-raised Dr Henry’s third.
Jubilee Farm, an award-winning agricultural social enterprise in Gleno, the salt mines at Carrickfergus and a meeting with farmers in Ballyclare, as well as church and school visits, were all part of a packed itinerary during the visit to the longest established of the church’s presbyteries.
Dr Henry added: “To every minister, their families and congregations who made me feel so welcome, I would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ and pray God’s richest blessing upon them and the work that they are doing in Jesus’ name.”
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Maureen Morrow, hosted a reception at Larne Town Hall for the church’s most senior office bearer, who will be succeeded in the post in June by Co Down-born Rev David Bruce.
Cllr Morrow said: “I am delighted that the Rt. Rev. Dr Henry is able to join us here today, bringing the encouragement and greetings of the General Assembly to the Carrickfergus Presbytery within our borough. Council recognises the valuable contribution our churches make within our local communities, and the important role they have in local community development, good relations and peacebuilding, providing support and compassion to those in need.
“Indeed, our churches are vitally important as key partners to council as we deliver Mid and East Antrim’s Community Plan – Putting People First. This plan aspires to the vision that Mid and East Antrim is a strong, vibrant, safe and inclusive community, where people work together to improve the quality of life for all.”