People from five different churches in Ballymoney came together to worship in St Patrick’s Parish’s Old School House on Wednesday April 27.
For the past year, St Patrick’s has been hosting The Filling Station, a monthly worship meeting in the renovated building.
The Filling Station in Ballymoney is the only one in Ireland, but Filling Station meetings take place in many cities, towns and villages in England, Scotland and Wales, as well as in the USA, Canada, France and Switzerland.
The Filling Station website states: “Using monthly mid-week evening ‘celebration’ meetings held in non-church venues we have seen Christian communities grow in depth and numbers where a Filling Station has been opened. The Filling Station offers high quality speakers and teachers, contemporary sung worship and powerful, accessible prayer ministry.
“Our meetings are designed to be overtly spiritual but presented in a manner that those outside the church would feel comfortable. Meetings are held monthly and aim to be short, sharp and focused in character. We find many people meet God through these meetings and faith is built up. Many church leaders find then an excellent additional ministry tool.”
The rector of Ballymoney, Finvoy and Rasharkin, the Rev Andrew Sweeney, introduced The Filling Station soon after the official opening of the renovated School House (St Patrick’s Day 2015), and it has been attracting around 100 people from different churches in the town each month.
There is always a guest speaker. In April it was the Rev Simon Genoe, vicar of Lisburn Cathedral. Previous speakers have included the Rev Barry Forde, Queen’s University Chaplain; the Rev Steve Stockman, Fitzroy Presbyterian Church, south Belfast; and Bishop Ken Clarke, Director of SAMS, the South American Mission Society.
There is contemporary worship – at the April meeting this was led by Ian Hanna, a former Director of Music at St Patrick’s, Coleraine. A local parishioner gave his testimony, and as the meeting closed people came forward for personal prayer.
Before the very informal service got underway there were coffee, tea and biscuits – and the opportunity to catch up with fellow parishioners and neighbours from Ballymoney’s different churches.
Andrew said: “The Filling Station is really about drawing Christians from different areas in the town and community to come and worship together in a more contemporary style and to enjoy good teaching, and then go back filled up to their own church community and help to bring renewal to their clergy and ministries.”
Andrew said The Filling Station had proved very successful in its first year. “It has been a very special part of bringing renewal to this town,” he added.
The Filling Station is held on a Wednesday night, once a month, in the Old School House, beginning with refreshments at 7.30pm and finishing around 9pm. Everyone is very welcome.