This Sunday Fr Martin Magill’s ecumenical tithing led him to the Titanic Quarter, where the Dock Church held its first ever service on the SS Nomadic. It is the first of a monthly service on the Nomadic (the first Sunday of every month at 6 pm), which will now be a welcome supplement to the Dock’s Sunday afternoon ‘Dock Walks.’
For those who have followed the journey of the Dock so far, the vision was always to have ‘church on a boat,’ so Sunday’s service focused on this as a fulfilment of that promise. As Chris Bennett writes on the Dock website:
‘So it is with great joy that I can finally say… all aboard!’
Fr Martin Magill’s Ecumenical Tithing – The Dock Church Gets its Boat
This weekend, I worshipped on SS Nomadic in a service led by one of the Dock Church chaplains, Rev Chris Bennett from the Church of Ireland. This was particularly special because this was the first of what will be a monthly service. It certainly seemed to catch the imagination and additional seats were required to accommodate all who attended. There was a wide range of people in age and denomination present. Chris told us this was the first time that an organised service had ever taken place in the Titanic Quarter.
To set the scene, Chris gave a brief history of SS Nomadic and some background to the Dock Church including his story of the parsnip! The Grosvenor Choral led the singing. We began with “Amazing Grace” and then we had a short time of quiet prayer before Chris prayed a spontaneous prayer.
Chris then gave us more background to the Dock Church including the search for a boat and all the frustrations and disappointment that were part of his story.
Chris asked the question what was God doing and saying in all this? He also talked to us about the building of church through the Dock walks. He also told us about the creation of the Dock Cafe. In his reflection, Chris acknowledged the disappointment of “rusty boats”, “closed doors” and not being able to see an overall meaning of what was happening. He pointed to the nearby artwork of the sand picture of a 6 year old girl from Belfast called “Wish”.
Chris shared with us how it was in the course of a conversation in the Dock café that he was asked would you like to run a church service on the Nomadic? He described it as the fulfilment of a dream and the end of all the frustration. The message we were encouraged to take from all this is that God knows what he is doing in our lives and can lead us to much more than we could have dared to ask.
Sometimes in our lives we really need perspective and also to trust God until the picture becomes clear – which may be on this side of grave or the next. We then sang: “it is well with my soul”.
Chris then invited three of the chaplains to share some thoughts on scripture. Br Finian, a Christian brother, then took the stage (or stairs). He referred to Noah’s ark and the boat on which Christ sailed. Richard Porter from the Church of the Nazarene shared the story of the storm which Jesus calmed. Rev Wesley Ellis referred to the great catch of fish in John 21.
Chris then told us about the monthly plan of the “medley of voices” sharing on scripture and his hope that in those voices we would hear God’s voice.
The floor was then left open for people to pray, we were asked to “keep it snappy”. There were prayers for the city, for courage, in gratitude for unity, for reaching out, for the Dock, for people experiencing storms in our world including Syria and those who were experiencing “rusty boats, closed doors and not being able to see the pattern”. We then prayed the “Our Father” and sang the final hymn – “Be Thou my vision”.