Sunflower moments – those moments when God’s power moves in our lives – were plentiful during a wonderful weekend of mission in the grouped parishes of Ballintoy & Dunseverick.
The Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, who coined the phrase ‘Sunflower moments’ during a Lent healing service in Dunluce earlier this year, led the mission. It involved not only parishoners from Ballintoy and Dunseverick, but also their mission partners from St Patrick’s Parish Ballymoney and the local community.
This was a mission with a difference, reaching out and sharing with people wherever and whenever they were going about their weekly business.
The Sunflower Mission kicked off on Thursday September 12 when Dunseverick Primary School joined parishioners in Dunseverick Church to hold their morning assembly. An all singing and dancing message was delivered by the Rev Andrew Sweeney, rector of Ballymoney, and was enjoyed by all ages.
Bishop Alan and mission team members were then delighted to spend time with the Mount Druid Parent and Toddler’s Group, and that evening parishioners shared the stories behind their favourite hymns during an exhilarating and moving Songs of Praise event.
On Friday morning there were prayers for healing with the Bishop in Ballintoy Parish Church and on Friday evening Ballintoy & Dunseverick Scouts hosted the mission with a camp fire and barbeque in Ballintoy Harbour.
On the Saturday morning the weather was kind for a walk around Ballintoy and along the cliff path in the company of the Shore Ramblers, followed by cream tea in the parish hall.
The Youth Club hosted a dance in the parish hall on Saturday night. Bishop Alan taught everyone an African dance and this was a time to remember ancestors and missing loved ones. Everyone was on their feet!
Sunday morning was the climax of the Sunflower Mission with a mission service starting in Dunseverick and continuing in Ballintoy. The Rev Patrick Barton, rector of Ballintoy & Dunseverick, said: “Bishop Alan gave us an inspiring and unifying message.” The service was followed by a soup and rolls lunch.
The Sunflower Mission was the first hosted by the parishes in the last 40 years, and it aimed to build and nurture connections with groups and organisations in the local community on the north Antrim coast.
“We hope that this mission touched people’s lives. Our tagline is ‘Growing, Healing and Reconciliation.’ We wanted to bring people together and help them understand that we are all employed in mission. It was about reaching out to people and sharing God’s good news,” said Patrick.
“We have very much appreciated having Bishop Alan share so much quality time with us and we are encouraged to build upon the seeds of hope and love sown in this Sunflower Mission, may we continue to grow healing and reconciliation.”
For a full album of photographs from the Sunflower Mission, please follow the link at the top of this page.