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Church Reports - 2020
Reports are available, in full, to read via the Northern Ireland Charity Commission web site - click on Documents tab.
24th June 2020
DOWN RECORDER - 24th June 2020
New Presbyterian minister installed in Saintfield
SECOND Saintfield Presbyterian Church has a new minister.
Despite the continuing coronavirus emergency, the Rev John Torrens was last week ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church and also installed as the new minister at Second Saintfield.
With special permission, his ordination took place in a livestreamed service held at Belfast’s Assembly Buildings — the headquarters of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland — due to the global pandemic.
Ordination and installation services are traditionally held in the church where the minister will serve, watched by members from their new congregation, friends, family members and guests who have played a significant part in the minister’s life and faith journey.
On this occasion, the Down Presbytery conducted the ordination of Mr Torrens with only four members of the Presbytery Commission participating in the service, each maintaining appropriate social distancing in the large Assembly Hall.
There were also two guests present, Mr Torrens’ wife, Melanie and a representative elder from Second Saintfield, Mr Trevor Leaker.
The Rev Mark Spratt, Clerk of Down Presbytery and minister of Kilmore Presbyterian Church, said while the circumstances of the were unusual, it remained the same as the church’s constitution requires.
He continued: “John was one of the last two Presbyterian ministers to have been called to a new congregation prior to the lockdown. Sadly, the restrictions in place caused by Covid-19 prevented the service from taking place in Second Saintfield.
“As a presbytery, we are so thankful that the service could take place and that that those who would normally have attended could watch and take part via the livestream.”
Second Saintfield Presbyterian Church’s roots go back to the 17th century, but the congregation itself was established in 1795. Today, the church has 232 families of around 550 people.
The vacancy was caused as a result of the retirement last August of the Rev Dr Graham Connor, who had been the minister for 10 years.
Having begun the formal process of calling a new minister to the church, a full congregational meeting took place on March 9, prior to the lockdown, when Mr Torrens was called to be the new minister.
Originally from Moneydig near Garvagh in Co Londonderry, the 31-year-old father of two studied at the University of Glasgow and the PCI’s Union Theological College in Belfast.
He was licensed to preach the gospel in a service in First Garvagh Presbyterian Church in 2017, followed by three years in Richhill Presbyterian Church as assistant minister.
Speaking after his installation Mr Torrens said that while the evening had not been quite what he had imagined as he began his journey into ministry, important as it is, his ordination was not the end goal for him.
He continued: “What is important is the opportunity it gives me to serve the gospel of Jesus Christ and the people of Second Saintfield Presbyterian and I am extremely excited about what lies ahead.
“I am also very grateful that we were able to use the Assembly Hall for the service. While I missed my family and friends and others who have played a significant part in my life, I am glad that they could watch from afar via the live-stream.”
The service began with a welcome and call to worship by the Moderator of Down Presbytery, Rev Dario Leal, minister of First Ballynahinch Presbyterian.
During the service, which included three pre-recorded items of worship by members Second Saintfield, Brian McKee a representative elder to the Presbytery from First Ballynahinch, read from 1 Timothy 2:1-7.
The sermon, based on the reading from First Timothy, was delivered by the Rev David Hyndman, minister of Magherahamlet and Spa Presbyterian Churches, who convened the Second Saintfield vacancy.
Those present for the service and others watching online from over 200 separate locations also heard short pre-recorded speeches after the service had concluded.
One was a message of welcome from Stanley McFarland, Clerk of Session of Second Saintfield Presbyterian Church.
The Presbytery Moderator described the installation and ordination service as “different, but a special evening.”
He added: “John received and accepted a call from Second Saintfield on the Monday before lockdown. While it was frustrating for all concerned that his ordination and installation could not take place in Saintfield due to the restrictions in place, we were delighted and relieved when the offer came from the PCI’s General Secretary inviting us to use Assembly Buildings.
“It now means that John can commence his ministry for which he trained and has been called to. We wish him, his wife, Melanie, their children, Emma and Ben, God’s richest blessing as this exciting new chapter opens for them at Second Saintfield.”
18th June 2020
Due to the current restrictions this could not take place in our church, but was done in Assembly Buildings, Belfast. (Apart from technical support and John Torrens, only five other people were present.)
12th April 2020
17 March 2020
Due to coronavirus, congregations across the Presbyterian Church have been informed by the Moderator and Clerk of Assembly that all church activities will cease with immediate effect. All Sunday gatherings for worship will also cease until further notice.
In his letter the Clerk of Assembly states: -
‘At this stage, it is not possible to ascertain a realistic end date for the above restrictions, hence the phrase ‘until further notice’. However, be assured that this formal advice will be withdrawn as soon as government guidance permits’
Consequently, we regret that there will be no services taking place at 2nd Saintfield from this Sunday.
These are unprecedented times and as a Church we are concerned about those among our membership and their families who, by reason of age, medical condition or indeed other family members will be self-isolating.
To ensure that we know about your circumstances and can plan to provide what pastoral care and practical help we can during your periods of isolation, please contact your elder.
If you are unsure who your elder is, contact any one from the following list.
Milne Barbour 07875 863134 Scott Laidlaw 07752 897197
Robert Barr 02897 521470 Garth Leaker 07894 596488
Colin Black 07768 541047 Trevor Leaker 07740 880932
Gordon Campbell 07779 247916 John McAllister 07736 372317
Roy Copes 02897 510773 Stanley McFarland 07740 873707
James Gilmore 07552 628121 Bryan Rea 02897 510155
Clearly we will be limited in what we can do, but we have a growing list of volunteers who your elder may contact to assist you with, for example....
- Prayer support.
- A friendly phone call.
- A point of contact.
- Posting mail.
- Urgent supplies or picking up shopping. (To be left at your door.)
Remember, we need to take every precaution to ensure that we are spreading only the love of God and His kindness. We must avoid physical contact (2m distance), wash our hands regularly and where appropriate items will be left on your doorstep.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging…….. “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Every blessing to you all.
(The reports were done before the current restrictions came into force.)