That’s the amount that the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has donated in the past few months to help relieve poverty and suffering in our world. It’s an amazing amount and it represents the combined totals of the World Development Appeal at Christmas and the Moderator’s Haiti Appeal. The funds have been distributed equally between Christian Aid and Tearfund, two excellent Christian relief agencies. To all who have contributed, I say a big “Thank you”.
Personally I am particularly delighted at this fantastic amount because of the involvement that Patricia and I have had with Christian Aid and Tearfund since our trip to Ethiopia last summer. In almost every congregation we have visited this year we have talked about that trip and about the wonderful work that both these organisations undertake in addressing the needs of the poorest people in our world. The response from Irish Presbyterians has been outstandingly generous, and we are so proud of what has been achieved.
Our church has made a number of headlines these past months through the collapse of the Presbyterian Mutual Society, and the distress that this situation has caused to so many people. I don’t imagine that this £1 million donation to help address issues of poverty and deprivation in our world will ever grab the headlines in the same way.
But it shows that in spite of a severe recession, and in spite of all the negative reports, members of the PCI have a heart of compassion and generosity for those who literally have nothing. We are not a perfect church, and there are many areas where the ecclesia reformata semper reformanda principle applies. But we ought not to allow our shortcomings to overshadow those things which Paul describes as “honourable, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise”.