The Portadown Times has just completed its inaugural “Person to be Proud of” poll and the winner is our good friend, Dr Gilbert “Gilly” Carson. With characteristic humility, Gilly says he just cannot fathom why he was chosen and admits that it’s all a bit overwhelming. One of his sisters told me that while Gilly was embarrassed by the publicity, the other members of his family were secretly rooting for him to win the poll so that they could help him spend the prizes of gift tokens for the local shopping malls.
Good Ulstermen like Gilly are not good at receiving accolades and praise. They hardly know what to say when someone compliments them. And when we want to recognise another’s qualities and contributions we think that if we are over-generous in our words of appreciation the recipient will get a big head and begin to think too highly of himself. As a result, the ministry of encouragement and recognition of worth is not well-developed in many of our Christian circles.
Gilly’s Christian commitment is known and recognised by many people around Portadown. He is appreciated by us all because he gives practical expression to his faith in a number of significant ways. His care and concern for people who arrive at the A&E department in Craigavon Hospital is legendary. The statistics reveal that Craigavon’s A&E department is the busiest in Northern Ireland, serving a wide area of the province, and Gilly is among its most active doctors, seeing a huge number of patients every year. His ability to follow through with patients and to see that they receive the best of attention has been reported to me personally on numerous occasions.
In his role as leader of Edenderry CE, Gilly has made a huge contribution to the spiritual growth and discipleship of many young people. The formula is a simple one: straightforward Bible teaching delivered in a warm atmosphere of Christian fellowship and encouragement.
An American friend of mine joined me at a CE meeting a couple of years ago and sat at the back of the packed hall of 300 teenagers. He said that as the meeting the progressed he kept asking himself, “What’s the hook here? What’s the gimmick that brings these kids to this meeting?” At the conclusion of the evening he concluded that there was no gimmick, but that the young people were attracted by the desire to be with one another in a safe and positive atmosphere of Christian worship. That atmosphere has been nurtured by Gilly Carson and his team of leaders in Edenderry CE whose warm, non-judgmental acceptance of young people has made the difference in so many lives.
So we suppress all our innate Ulster reluctance to give or receive affirmations and compliments, and we celebrate a dear friend’s positive contribution to our community and church. We’re proud of you, Gilly!