The parish of Ballymena and Kilconriola shared its vision for the future at a combined service for all parishioners.
They were joined at this special service on October 15 by Bishop Ken Clarke who brought encouragement and blessings from the diocese and wider Church of Ireland family.
Welcoming everyone, the rector, the Rev Mark McConnell said: “Since joining the parish in June 2016 I have, together with Dennis and John before his departure, been prayerfully watching and listening, and seeking after God’s will for the ministry within the parish and within the community of Ballymena. We now believe the time is right to share our vision with you.
“Having Bishop Ken Clarke with us today is a real blessing. We have already taken advantage of Ken’s wisdom and enthusiasm in the preparation of these plans and we are delighted that he can be with us as we share them with you.”
The parish has produced a leaflet highlighting a number of new initiatives. The full document can be downloaded HERE.
Mark said: “We are hopeful that, with the ongoing prayerful and practical encouragement of our Church family, we will realise something of God’s vision for Ballymena, and that the ministry of this church will bring new members for God’s Kingdom and to our parish.”
One of the key initiatives is the contemporary ‘New Life’ Service which got underway on November 5. This will now run every Sunday morning at St Patrick’s Church from 10 to 11am. The service has a more modern feel and is designed for all, regardless of age or church background. ‘New Life’ includes a dedicated Sunday School, from 10.30 to 11am in the Parish Hall. Tea, coffee and treats are served in the hall directly after the service.
“‘New Life’ will be an addition to the existing Sunday services on offer at St Patrick’s, providing current and future church goers with greater choice,” Mark said. “All of our current weekly services will continue to run as normal. “
The parish is also planning a regular visitation ministry in Ballymena town centre, with church members visiting local shops and offices. “This town centre chaplaincy will offer direct prayer support, including a dedicated prayer line, friendship, appreciation, listening and gentle evangelism,” Mark said.
There will also be concentrated visitations and prayer walks to help the parish connect with present and lapsed members. The heart of this project will be to offer prayer ministry to all.
The parish is planning to implement its 3Ts Parish Development Programme next Spring. Parishioners will be advised of all new and existing ministries, and will be invited to respond in terms of their Time, their Talent and their Treasure.
Mark said: “Encouraging a genuine faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and providing a Church environment which is welcoming, supportive and encouraging to every believer is more important than ever and remains our first job as a parish.”
He said the new parish initiatives are also key steps towards providing an environment where people can develop and grow a genuine and living faith.
The parish also offers other Ministry Opportunities through its Christ-Centred Fellowship Groups and Home Groups throughout the Parish, including the Men’s Fellowship group, a new Woman’s Fellowship and ‘The Way,’ a new Youth Fellowship group.
St Patrick’s, Ballyclug, will be developed a regular venue for Gospel Music Evenings. Given the setting of this church community, it is envisaged that such events will be very popular and will help promote the Christian faith to a wider audience.
Elements of the ‘New Life’ contemporary service will be incorporated into the monthly Family Service at St Columba’s Church and it is also hoped that Messy Church, which has been well attended at St Patrick’s, can also be run at St Columba’s once or twice a year.
Overseas Mission Opportunities will also be explored throughout the three parish churches. Existing church links with Nepal and CMS Ireland will be reviewed and re-established, and other potential links such as supporting the persecuted church throughout the world will be explored.
Mark highlighted the many established activities and organisations which offer much to the community of Ballymena. They include the Bellringers, the Bible Fellowship, the Healer Prayer group, the Ladies Circle, and Mothers and Toddlers.
There are also youth-focused organisations affiliated with the parish including the Church Lads’ & Church Girls’ Brigade, the Girls Friendly Society, Youth Club and the various institutions hosted at St Columba’s. “These organisations provide a valuable and wholesome outlet for many children and they will continue to be encouraged as part of the life of this parish,” said Mark.
Anyone involved in the combined parishes is invited to give their feedback on the vision by contacting 028 2563 0741; email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website or Facebook page.