MaD – Mission making a difference – was the theme of an evening held in St Patrick’s Church Hall in Ballymena.
The event was sponsored by the parish Ministry Team in the parish and hosted by UTV newsreader Paul Clark. It drew a large crowd from across the community as well as many parishioners.
Paul Clark spoke of his own life journey and how faith had made a difference to it. He related how his faith had helped him to cope with some of the demands of his work and how he also had a passion about mission, which, while to do with the wider world, is also very much required on the home front.
Paul then interviewed a series of people. The first two had dramatic stories to tell. Billy Morgan’s life was at very low ebb following serious illness, involvement in drugs and the break up of his family when finally the message that faith could make a difference got through to him.
Since that time in 2003 Billy has thrown himself into working for others and because of his understanding of the issues has had a strong influence on them. He presently works for the Ballymena Family and Addicts Support Group.
Lorraine Boyd’s life was changed in 2006 when her son Ian, aged 19, took his own life. Despite being totally grief stricken Lorraine determined that good should come of the tragedy and founded the ‘Ian Boyd Society’ to support families affected by suicide. Although her faith was shaken she sought to make a difference in the lives of others.
The story of two gradual journeys of faith then followed. Anne Adams had been brought up in the church and faith was always part of her life. In manifested itself in many ways including a deep involvement in the work of the Mothers’ Union and in the Gideon’s International.
Maureen Patterson told how faith had made a difference in her life in quiet ways and how it had led her to take up a post as volunteer administrator in the local Spina Bifida Group and also to an involvement in Hospice work.
Paul then interviewed three young people who had been involved in outreach work. Jonathan Davison had been in Romania, Sarah Chestnutt in Slovakia and Matthew Todd in India. They reflected on how their experiences had influence their faith.
The rector of the parish, the Rev Canon Stuart Lloyd, who recently spent eight weeks in Nepal spoke about how this had affected his own journey of faith.
Taking up the theme of making a difference he then outlined six projects that the parish hopes to undertake in the next months which indeed under God would make a difference. These include the furthering of a partnership with Sundar Dhoka Church in Kathmandu and also a planned pilgrimage with people from other churches in the town.
Last to be interviewed was the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, Bishop of Connor, who while reflecting on his own journey of faith also spoke of the differences he would like to see the churches making in the community. After he spoke there was a visual reflection on the prayer of St. Francis.
Fifteen mission bodies each mounted a small exhibition showing how they were seeking to make a difference and there was opportunity during the evening to visit these exhibitions as well as a bookstall and a Nepali Craft Stall.
The Ministry Team in the parish trust that the evening will indeed have challenged many to consider how faith is making a difference to them and how in turn they could make a difference out in the world.