This week Fr Martin Magill practised his ecumenical tithing at Shankill Methodist, a congregation he had not visited for some time. The congregation offered Fr Magill a warm welcome and let him know he had been missed. The service included a Question and Answer session with Rev Heather Morris, the outgoing President of the Methodist Church in Ireland.
Fr Martin Magill’s Ecumenical Tithing: Shankill Methodist Church
As I hadn’t been to Shankill Methodist church for some time, I decided to return there for Sunday evening worship. I appreciated being greeted with these words:
“I haven’t seen you for some time, where have you been?”
It felt like being part of the congregation.
Before the service began, I chatted to some of the people from the congregation whom I had met on previous visits. It happened that Methodist President, Rev Heather Morris, was visiting the congregation.
The service began with a word of welcome from Rev Margaret Ferguson to Heather who had been to the church for the morning service. We then sang three praise songs: “Praise is rising”, “10,000 reasons”, and “Jesus we enthrone you”. Margaret then led a prayer and we prayed the Our Father. One of the congregation, Louise, read from Matthew 12.
Heather then took a seat at the front of the church where Margaret asked her a series of questions including about her early faith and influences, some of the challenges faced by the Methodist church, as well as some of the encouragement which Heather had felt in her year as president. Margaret then asked Heather to challenge the church present in the people tonight.
Heather encouraged the congregation to keep going at what they were doing. She acknowledged the difficulty at the time of the transition when Margaret moves on to a new ministry. She hoped that people in the surrounding area would see the congregation as people who love one another.
There then followed some questions from the congregation including what sort of year it was for Heather as Methodist President. She was also asked what she would say to those who find change difficult. There was also a question about the type of worship: hymns versus praise songs. She talked about not hurting one another through music.
Heather was also asked about social media and in her reply she encouraged the congregation to be multi generational, hence recognising the value of social media. She acknowledged the downsides also of social media. She said Christ is Lord of all, therefore Lord of social media. She acknowledged the danger of virtual community and called for Christian voices on social media.
There was a time of praying for Neil and Heather when Margaret invited a number of the congregation to come to the front for them.
This was then followed by a more general time of prayer – which included a prayer that people and governments would care for the earth and environment. This was the first time I had heard such a prayer in all times of worship beyond my own denomination.
The service finished with the offering and the final hymn.