Glengormley 19-21st November 2004
The leaders of Glengormley Methodist Church invited a Lay Witness team to conduct a weekend mission in November 2004.
Allen McCartney led the team.
Allen McCartney led the team.
Weekend Reports and Photos
The idea to host a Lay Witness Weekend was born out of a desire by the Leadership to encourage, and perhaps challenge the congregation towards a deeper relationship with God. There was also a feeling the weekend would provide a situation, whereby those on the periphery of Church life could be brought into fellowship. After concentrated prayer, and consultation with the Celebration and Evangelism team it was decided to proceed; taking as our theme Lay It Down.
For six months the Church prepared, both in a Spiritual and practical sense. Practically teams were recruited to cover hospitality, e.g. Catering, Accommodation, Transport etc. Spiritual preparations were soaked in prayer. Through small prayer groups, Home Churches, and prayer meetings the Church sought guidance; whilst the Praise and Worship team worked on their own programme. By the end of the summer excitement was growing, as the Church looked forward to experiencing the Holy Spirit working in the lives of our people.
From early afternoon on Friday 19 November, Glengormley Methodist was a hive of activity. Under the direction of Alan and Tanya, the catering team were busy preparing meals for around 150 people; elsewhere others busied themselves ensuring final arrangements were in place. By 6pm the Bookstall was open, car parks manned, and the visiting team (under the Leadership of Norma Mackey and Allen McCartney) had arrived.
After a wonderful four course meal shared with the team, it was time to move into the Church Sanctuary, where the Praise and Worship team, under the direction of Alan Hutchinson set the tone of the evening, opening with, “In Heavenly Armour……..the battle belongs to the Lord”.
Moving on from Praise, it was now time to meet the team – all 17 of them, drawn from as far as Limerick, Dublin and across Northern Ireland! We listened as Maureen (Rev. Murray’s mum), John, and Melanie shared their experiences. Each had travelled different roads of faith; some very painful. But what came through was that in all their personal situations God had been faithful. Some lives He ‘refined’, others ‘pruned’, but the results were the same – all had been transformed. Helen reminded us that God gives good things and never forces.
After an exhilarating Friday evening, there was great expectation for Saturday, when seven church members opened their homes for coffee and fellowship. At each home members of the team shared and ministered. Once again we marvelled, when it transpired how God had so designed things, that at every meeting the speaker chosen. proved to be the most suitable for those involved. Reports circulated that needs were met, barriers removed and decisions taken for God.
Early afternoon was set aside for the young marrieds and their children. After lunch the children enjoyed fun, games and crafts under the supervision of Heidi, whilst parents listened as Diane and Alan shared their experiences.
At the evening meal there was a very relaxed ‘homely’ feeling, our visitors rapidly becoming more like ‘friends and family’.
As we moved into the Sanctuary, our eyes fell upon three large handmade flags. One with the word FREEDOM, the second JESUS and the third in pale orange voile emblazoned with scarlet tongues of fire. For me, it was as if Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were waiting to greet us.
Karen Orr led praise and Worship and as we opened ourselves to the Holy Spirit, there was a real sense of God’s presence.
Speakers for this evening were Rosemary and Stewart, Judith, and Ann. As their stories unfolded, it was clear that they too had laid down all before God. The things that hindered, burdened or plainly obstructed them in their Christian walk had all been given over to God, thus liberating them for service.
As the evening was drawing to its close Norma left us with her ‘Love Letter From God’. This visual presentation reflected the very heart of God. Accompanied by Judith on her harp, promise after promise was flashed on screen, e.g. ‘I will never leave you’; ‘I chose you’. Each reminding us in a very beautiful way how much God truly loves each and every one of us. In the ministry that followed it was clear many hearts were touched. For many of us it was time to return home and reflect; but for the teenagers from 10.00 until Midnight, it was time to ‘Lay It All Down Later’. This was an opportunity for Music, Fellowship and Sharing with Becky and James.
For many years our Church has had two Sunday morning services, but on this occasion the two came together, and we worshiped as one Church family. Again this was memorable. Becky and James had a word for the children and later Harry, Karen and Sybil testified. Allen preached on “pressing on unhindered” and gave a vision of how Glengormley could be transformed by a committed church. Many people came forward at the altar call and many stayed for ministry.
After lunch, it was time to say goodbye to the team, and thank them for their contribution, leaving us to evaluate the impact of the weekend.
As we gathered for the evening service, Rev Peter Murray announced there would be no sermon; rather the night would be one for the congregation. After praise and worship, Peter asked if anyone wished to share and was almost bowled over as people emerged from all corners of the church eager to tell how God had met with them. The floodgates had opened.
Tears were shed as disappointments, misunderstandings, pain, and brokenness were all shared. But through the tears, God’s love shone through. It was interesting to note that visible through the scarlet tongues of flame was the Freedom Flag. It was almost like God telling us that through the Holy Spirit, freedom had come to Glengormley.
It was a very late night!
The weekend provided us with many highlights, but perhaps for the church body the Evaluation service was the most meaningful. As one of our younger members told the congregation “You are my family, brothers, sister, nieces, nephews and Grandparents. We are a family! “
As the service ended there was a new sense of purpose and vision for the future. Burdens had been laid down. It was now time to embrace whatever new thing the Lord has prepared for us and just like St. Paul - we ‘Press On’.