On a sunny Sunday morning in June every church in the Bangor and Holywood Circuit was closed! Instead everyone met at the wonderful Scout Centre in Crawfordsburn Country Park. It was a lovely sunny day, after weeks of wind and rain, Praise God, and the service was followed by a great barbeque and everyone sharing fellowship across the congregations. The youthful STOMP praise band led the worship to great acclaim and President Designate, Rev Brian Anderson of Wesley Centenary in Bangor, outlined his themes for his Presidential year. His congregation and the Circuit presented him with robes and a presidential scarf.
“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” V11,12
The church is finding it hard to react. But the gospel is always relevant in the stand against injustice and poverty and to illustrate forgiveness. To say that love is the way. To say that there is a God who loves us all and who wants to bring hope. Jon Middendorf spoke straight to us at Conference last year in Dublin: ‘Choose to survive or to be faithful!’
Another theme for Brian is how do the generations work well together? How do the generations who have gone before help the generations coming up?
Brian and Lesley also want to highlight fostering as a way of living out Christian witness. There are 2186 ‘Looked after’ children living in foster care in Northern Ireland (September 2014). The Fostering Network state that 3 new foster carers are needed each week to meet the growing number of children and young people coming into care in NI.
Brian also challenged us to be missionaries, not to hide away in a church. He asked us to visualize the door we go through every day – to work or wherever – as a missionary opportunity—our ‘strange land’.