We drove to Millbrook in North Ireland this morning for worship in a new church plant in that community. The drive took around 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). The 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 365m 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 of 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.
The quality of worship leadership (with violin and mandolin a part of the worship ensemble) was mirrored by the passion of the congregation. Stephen Morley and family participated in the service as did missionaries Sarah and Ted Voight.
Pastor 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 Acts with Paul’s message to those in Athens. What followed was a masterful sermon where Pastor Turner blended scripture, personal narrative as a critical care nurse, community needs, tasteful humor, and Christian witness. 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 Turner 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.
One 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… however 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 from 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 seemed 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.
Millbrook Church of the Nazarene is a God centred, family focused, community 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.
We 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.