Taking yet another step toward strengthening our mutual links with the Diocese of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh in Ireland, a team of clergy and lay leaders were hosted by us earlier this month. Their post-visit comments received this week are shared below as a way of thanking those who were directly involved in their activities and of affirming the power of all that the Lord is doing in and through His people in this place.
Brigid Barrett: The whole week was a wonderful experience - such a warm welcome and generous hospitality, so many ideas, a true sense of God's presence in a parish where people give so much of themselves for others. I was truly blessed to have been given this opportunity and a big thank you to so many for making it possible.â€¨â€¨
Maud Cunningham: This was a very special experience for me - from the moment I arrived I was met with warmth and generosity and this continued for the week I was in Bluffton. â€¨Whilst I enjoyed every minute of my visit and learned a lot about the overall ministry of the Church of The Cross, my lasting impression was of the number of volunteers who were involved in such a wide variety of ministries in the community. Each and every one of these people were using their God-given abilities in reaching out to others - obviously full-filling for them in doing God's work but making a difference to so many lives! I trust that I can take my learning and translate as much as possible of it into life in both my parish and the wider diocese. My love and sincere thanks to everyone who made my visit to Bluffton such a memorable time in my life.â€¨â€¨
Paul Hoey: It was a week I'll never forget - the place, the people and the parties! I've taken away many practical ideas that can be adapted for my own situation but even more valuable than that, the motivation that comes from being with people whose whole desire is to love Christ more fully and share His love more widely. Thank you for everything! This link is making a difference.â€¨â€¨
Craig McCauley: My week in Bluffton was one that will long remain with me. Such generosity and hospitality. The words that sum up the week for me are affirmation and challenge. I have a strong sense of God affirming through my experience at Church of the Cross the vision for the kind of church He wants here in Virginia, Cavan, Ireland - namely one that empowers and frees people to serve God. The challenge is to do it! Many thanks for this opportunity.
Bill Atkins: Many, many thanks for the kindness, generosity and hospitality. "Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than the best of meats", but in Bluffton you get the lot! It was especially good to be able to see at first hand the teachings we received in Rooskey and Slieve Russell, about "Him and them", keeping focused and intentional, and being faithful in using what you've got rather than wishing you had more resources. I felt both humbled and exhilarated by the teaching and the people we met - the glory of the Word is evident in the lives of so many, showing forth His grace and truth. The various ministry leaders we met seemed to be so concerned for Christ's honour that nothing is too much for them to do for Him. Even the very talented music leaders seemed to care more about building others up than displaying their talents or indulging their own tastes. I was particularly impressed by the way people are led into ministry rather than being coerced. Rather than helping each discover and use their gifts, we usually look for people to fulfill roles, and then guilt-trip them, "If you don't do it no-one else will". For me though, the most important lesson is to get closer to Christ.
In His power and for His glory,
PICTURE: L-R: Archdeacon Craig McCauley, Miss Maud Cunningham, Canon Bill Atkins, Canon Paul Hoey, Mrs. Brigid Barrett