Stress in Christian Ministry

stressedThis week the General Board of our church sponsored a conference on stress in the ministry. It’s over a decade ago since a committee of the General Assembly reported a survey in which over 20% of ministers surveyed said that the work of the Christian ministry had become a real struggle and a burden due to excessive levels of stress. Apparently the situation has deteriorated in the intervening years, and many more feel under pressure.

Stress means that some ministers feel like giving up the ministry altogether. A few years ago I was involved in a project sponsored by the Lilly Endowment called Sustaining Pastoral Excellence in which resources were made available to churches and seminaries in North America to address the increasing rate of drop-out from the Christian ministry. The statistics for North America are alarming. Continue reading “Stress in Christian Ministry”

Power-ful Help for Haiti

peter powerAlong with my colleagues, Katherine and Mark, we visited Peter Power TD, Minister of State for Overseas Development, in Leinster House last week. The primary purpose of our visit was to report on what I had seen of the Tearfund and Christian Aid projects in Ethiopia which are supported by Irish Aid, and to thank him for what his government is doing for the poor of our world. While we were with him, he and his officials were taking phone calls as they tracked a convoy of lorries traveling from the Dominican Republic into Haiti with 85 tonnes of food. It was exciting to be close to where the decisions were being taken to ensure that the relief mission was successful.

This week Irish Aid continues to address the needs of the poor people of Haiti. The Irish Times reported that Minister Power was considering a proposal that an Irish Naval Service hospital ship be sent to Haiti to assist with the relief effort. He is discussing the situation with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland to see how Irish medical professionals can be best deployed in Haiti. Continue reading “Power-ful Help for Haiti”

Railway Street PC, Lisburn

railway-street-presbyterian-church-opened-in-march-1864It’s 150 years since Railway Street Presbyterian Church was founded in the spiritually heady days following the 1859 Revival. Like many other Ulster towns, there just wasn’t enough room for everyone in First Lisburn and a second congregation was necessary. (It’s interesting how few Presbyterian congregations want to be known as “Second” and opt for an alternative name.) I had the privilege of preaching in Railway Street Presbyterian Church at the beginning of their anniversary year, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Part of the fun of the occasion was the presence at lunchtime of Lisburn’s ubiquitous and energetic photographer, John Kelly, whose contributions to this week’s Ulster Star is certain to ensure the sale of some additional copies, especially among the good people of the Railway Street congregation. Continue reading “Railway Street PC, Lisburn”

Great try!

trimble-dives-over-for-ulster-at-the-recAndrew Trimble scored the best try of the season today when Ulster beat Bath 28-10 at the The Rec in the final match of the European Rugby Cup pool stages. Ieuan Evans, the former Welsh and Bath winger and now TV pundit, described it as “sensational”. I agree.

It was a thrilling match in which Ulster needed to score four tries to get a bonus point, but in the end they managed only three. They were all good tries, but Andrew’s touchdown is bound to be shown again and again as an example of pace and determination. His form this season has been very impressive and he is bound to be in contention for a return to the Irish team for the Six Nations campaign. Continue reading “Great try!”

Appeal for Haiti

gerald-herbertWe have all seen the pictures of death, injuries and devastation that have followed the earthquake in Haiti. I have launched a special Moderator’s Appeal so that we can support the relief efforts.

Since we have no church partner in Haiti, PCI will be supporting the two Christian agencies, Tearfund and Christian Aid, whom we fund regularly through our World Development Appeal. I know from first hand experience this past year that these organizations will do an excellent job in seeing that all contributions are used wisely and well for the relief of those who are in greatest need and for the rebuilding of broken lives.

Eight in every ten Haitians lived in desperate poverty before the earthquake struck. Many had recently rebuilt their homes after the 2008 hurricane destroyed them. Today the majority of homes are gone. The emotional and spiritual turmoil is growing. Continue reading “Appeal for Haiti”