In fact, our visit to the congregation of Mourne in Kilkeel gave us many reasons to rejoice. The journey itself was uplifting. It was a beautiful winter morning and the views of the mountains around the Spelga Dam were wonderful. On the way home later in the day, we paused to watch the sun set over the water.
We visited the Sunday School. There are 400 children and young people on the rolls of the Sunday School and Bible Classes, and it was an impressive sight to see so many young people being taught God’s Word in well-appointed and maintained church halls. The Sunday School is well-staffed and the children were fully engaged in all the activities. We rejoiced to see this work being undertaken so enthusiastically, and believe that the on-going work of Christ in the Kingdom of Mourne is in good hands as children and young people are valued in the life and work of the congregation.
A full meeting house is always an inspiration to a preacher, and the Mourne congregation did not disappoint. Even more impressive was a well-populated choir, with no less than 20 men. The “Songs of Ascent” at the very beginning were good preparation for worship and helped us to focus our minds on God and his glory.
As part of the service, we were able to recognise and celebrate the ministry of Janet Orr who served our church and the congregation of McQuiston Memorial in East Belfast for many years, firstly under the older designation of Church Sister, and then as a Deaconess. Miss Orr was commissioned for her work in 1957 and retired in 1985. At the time of her appointment, McQuiston Memorial had around 1700 families and she served under various ministries including Dr McIlroy, and the Reverends Eaton, Drysdale and Gray. She was devoted to her work in the congregation, especially among the elderly and housebound. She taught in the Bible Classes, the Sunday School, and established a Young Woman’s Group, as well as serving the PWA. Her home congregation of Mourne were delighted to be able to honour her long and faithful ministry as they presented her with an antique brooch.
Mourne Presbyterian Church is one of the strongest in our General Assembly, and is richly blessed with physical and human resources. Not every congregation has that level of support, and not every congregation can replicate their ministries. But the resources in Mourne are being well-used to establish and extend the kingdom of Christ. That is always a reason to rejoice.