This week Fr Martin Magill attended the farewell service for Rev Margaret Ferguson of Woodvale Methodist. Rev Ferguson has been very active in the community and in partnership with other churches – she will be especially missed in west and north Belfast.
Fr Martin Magill’s Ecumenical Tithing: Farewell Service for Rev Margaret Ferguson
As I had been invited to the “final service” for Rev Margaret Ferguson in Woodvale Methodist church, I decided to worship there this weekend. Before the service began, I had the opportunity to talk to various people whom I had met in different contexts including Shankill Methodist church, the Burns night in Sacred Heart parish, and from the meal for the homeless in Belfast City Hall where a number of women from Woodvale Methodist helped serve the meal. I also met a number of the Clonard Unity pilgrims who were also at the service.
We began by singing hymns and were then welcomed by Billy, the church steward. The service was led by Rev Jim Rea and included a prayer of thanksgiving for Margaret’s service over the last 8 years. We then had the miming of the “Our Father” by members of the congregation which was then followed by the singing of three praise hymns.
Facebook users can watch the miming here:
Jim Rea then welcomed politicians and clergy from other denominations. Margaret’s husband David read from Luke’s gospel, chapter 11:37-53, with “the 6 woes”. After the reading, the choir sang again.
Jim spoke about Margaret’s ministry in the church and beyond including this quotation: “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care”. He acknowledged Margaret’s ministry went beyond the church walls, and he also acknowledged the support and ministry of her husband David.
The offering was then taken up for the “work of God”.
Another member of the congregation, Victor, read from Matthew 16:13-20, Peter’s confession of faith. The choir then sang.
Margaret herself then prayed and preached. She based her sermon around “keys” and made the following points:
God calls people to open the doors of his Kingdom to others. We are called to tell others about the love of God – we are called to be a missional people with a radical message.
She asked the congregation:
“Do you have the key of faith to the Kingdom of Heaven?”
“Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ?”.
She asked the congregation to support the new minister and went on to say: “ Do not sit back and wait for him to instigate things … don’t sit back and wait for him to try things and to blame him if things go wrong.”
After a duet, Jim Rea returned to lead us in the intercessions, praying for Margaret, for the new minister, Rev Colin Duncan, and for a time of respect, peace and dignity at “the 12th”. He also prayed for the people of Iraq.
After the service, we were invited for supper in the adjoining hall where there were speeches and presentations to acknowledge Margaret’s ministry.
(Image from Woodvale Methodist Facebook page, posted by Brian Kingston)