Here’s another of those questionnaires that professes to let you know where you are on the religious map. I was relieved to discover that I came out as 100% mainline orthodox Protestant, but was a bit surprised that I am also 99% orthodox Quaker!
I do like the Moyallon Quaker Meeting House. It’s a great setting and we have enjoyed many good times there with church groups. Maybe more of Quakerism has rubbed off on me than I realised. Some of my Quaker friends would say that’s not a bad thing. You might like to try to take the survey and see how you come out.
The congregation of First Presbyterian Church, Portadown, honoured me with a reception at which I was presented with moderatorial robes. Diane, Beryl, and Heather were the three women who served on the Hearing Committee that recommended my call to the congregation, and they made the presentation. I believe that their persistent prayers were a significant factor in my coming to be in Portadown. Continue reading “Congregational reception”
Since Bob the gardener took over the lawn at the manse he has been tending it most carefully. It was scarrified, fertilised, raked, and cut several times. But Bob’s still not happy with it. There are still a few brown patches, but the improvement is significant. A number of years ago the lower part of the lawn was a tennis court, and with Bob’s efforts, it might actually be used for that purpose again. Maybe with a bit more care and attention, it will approach Wimbledon standards?
I am told that the previous two ministers of First Portadown who served as Moderators of the General Assembly had their photograph taken on the lawn in front of the manse with the Session and Congregational Committee. So plans are being made to repeat the shot on a suitable evening in June. My bet is that the lawn will be looking better than those of us in the photograph.
It’s almost exactly 30 years ago since I met David Morrow and his family. As an Ulsterman exiled in Canada, he came to Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia in 1979 to undertake theological studies. Along with his wife, Hilary, and their three children, they arrived in Philadelphia having driven from Calgary, Alberta, with their trailer tent. In the days while they were looking for accommodation we all lived together in the same house. It was a real adventure of faith and great fun. David and Hilary and their family brought such a lot of joy and laughter into our lives.
David returned to Alberta where he planted a church and where he has ministered for the past 25 years. In 2007 his wife Hilary died of cancer, and this past autumn David retired from active ministry in the church. He has been at “home” visiting and spending time with his family here these past few months and is due to return to Canada at the end of June.
He is a godly man, a gifted pastor and musician, and a real “kindred spirit”. It was just great to catch up with him again these past few days and to share in the things that are most important to us. David is one of those people who have consistently encouraged me in my Christian life, and for whom I am most grateful to the Lord.
Last night I received an honorary degree. The Presbyterian Theological Faculty, Ireland bestowed on me the degree Doctor of Divinity, iure dignitatis. I was very honoured. It is normal for the PTFI to give this degree to the Moderator Designate, but that does not take the shine off the honour so bestowed on me nor my sense of gratitude. Thank you, PTFI, for giving me what I did not earn. It was truly an act of grace.
Some may argue that honorary degrees are somewhat devalued these days and are given for rather trivial reasons. This year my alma mater, the University of Ulster, is giving honorary degrees to, among others, Clare Short, for services to international development, to Orla Guerin, for services to journalism, to William Wright for services to manufacturing, and to Paul Brady for services to traditional music and songwriting. None of those are trivial reasons and all are worthy of recognition.
But some universities are just not impressed enough to give an honorary degree in spite of the achievements of potential candidates. Witness this response from Arizona State University to the President of the United States. Thankfully, PTFI were not quite so hard to impress as ASU.