Church Planting in North Ireland

DSC00211We drove to Millbrook in North Ireland this morning for worship in a new church plant in that community. The drive took DSC00210around thirty minutes from Belfast, and I was glad it was Norm Henry and not myself driving (and David providing navigation when we returned from service). DSC00132 DSC00131The church meets in a community center flanked by apartments and homes of people from all walks of life. The center itself serves the young and elderly alike.

Members of the church remember fondly James Humphrey and Chris DeMerell, who ministered as DSC00169365m interns last year. Ruth Turner serves as the pastor of this vibrant community church. At one point she presented us to the church and then asked how many people were touched by the ministry of James and Chris… every hand in the congregation raised! As an educator I know the desire sometimes to please visitors so my own reaction at first to hold this response with a “grain DSC00203 DSC00204of salt”… until people began to approach us after the service and talk about their ministry. There is no doubt that 365m serves as a time of mutual learning and ministry, where student and community benefit from each other’s presence.

DSC00146While a small community, the worship service was incredibly powerful and focused on the love of Christ, the hope of the future, and DSC00145the promise of reconciliation.

DSC00137The quality of worship leadership (with violin and mandolin a part of the worship DSC00143ensemble) was mirrored by the passion of the congregation. Stephen Morley and DSC00142family participated in the service as did missionaries Sarah and Ted Voight.

DSC00176Pastor Ruth opened her message with a particular challenge to evangelize in a country where Jesus is not seen as the exclusive answer, a country where Christianity and violence are often linked.  She drew from DSC00174Acts  with Paul’s message to those DSC00151in Athens. What followed was a masterful sermon where Pastor Turner blended scripture, personal narrative as a critical DSC00177care nurse, community needs, tasteful humor, and Christian DSC00157witness. I recognized in this minister a real desire to reach her community through hospitality and the message of the gospel. I have long appreciated women who preach and lead in our tradition and Ruth provides one more exemplar of the pastoral office.  Sarah Fortner, a 365m intern scheduled to learn and minister in this community will definitely grow through her relationship with Pastor DSC00192Turner and the people of this community.  Ruth shared her passion and planning with David and Glynda Wesley, I suspect it will be a remarkable time.

DSC00140DSC00190One thing that struck me was the presence of children in the worship service. Yes there is Sunday School and childcare (Creche) as well as Children’s church… DSC00168 DSC00148however the main worship was peppered with young children celebrating worship, embracing adults, and serving as an impetus for my own appreciation. Sarah Voight says she learned DSC00158 DSC00188from me the power of children in worship. Perhaps that is true, but frankly her own gifts and graces make her an exceptional children’s pastor and missionary. The community center’s walls were framed by children and even Pastor Ruth DSC00165seemed to gesture a welcome to children in this community that reflected a gospel that embraced everyone.  Children are a part of the Kingdom of God and a part of Millbrook Community Church of the Nazarene. Ministry sometimes includes the ability to “notice” to see the remarkable in these smaller church plants.

DSC00199DSC00197This is a community that sings its faith, celebrates young and old alike, practices hospitality. The church’s upcoming website reflects the congregation’s commitment.

Millbrook Church of the Nazarene is a God centred, family focused, DSC00139community based, contemporary church.  We are passionate about teaching and worshipping God.  We want to encourage and equip people to live out a real Christian life in the real world.

DSC00186DSC00200We are a young vibrant church that believes in the importance of children, youth and family.  We are also a multi-generational church knowing that God has a place and a purpose for everyone.  Men and women, young and old are essential to church life at Millbrook.

DSC00167Members of the community (including students from the USA) will discover this congregation lives the gospel in a “big” way.

About Dean G. Blevins

Dr. Dean G. Blevins currently serves as Professor of Practical Theology and Christian Discipleship at Nazarene Theological Seminary. An ordained elder, Dean has ministered in diverse settings and currently also serves at the USA Regional Education Coordinator for the Church of the Nazarene. A prolific author, Dr. Blevins recently co-wrote the textbook Discovering Discipleship and edits Didache: Faithful Teaching, a journal for Wesleyan Education.
This entry was posted in Children, Clergy, Discipleship, Family, Leadership, Mission, Practical Theology, Preaching, Theological Education, Women. Bookmark the permalink.

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