This week we begin the Journey of Lent, a journey of 40 days through the Wilderness with Jesus Christ towards Easter. We will discover that Wilderness is a much more positive experience than we might imagine and we pray that we will be drawn into a deeper relationship with Jesus.
This is the song from the service on Sunday, if you want to listen again.
Let’s Pray For Steve and Rosie Kennedy (global mission workers in Romania)
Pray for Steve and Rosie as they settle into work at Tóvidéki Reformed Church, especially for the English language ministry - for continuing clarity of vision and unity of purpose, and for effective outreach and mission. Pray also for their two children settling into school.
The Christian Church of Sumba, Indonesia
Pray for the leadership and members of the church as they seek to encourage one another and build each other up in the faith and as they share the gospel with others.
This information was received in an email from the Moderator and the Clerk of the General Assembly at 9:00am this morning.
In-person gatherings for worship in Northern Ireland
Following on from the Northern Ireland Executive’s decision to extend the current Covid restrictions to Thursday 1st April 2021, the Clerk of Assembly and senior leaders from other churches met again on Monday 22nd February with Ministers from the Executive Office, the Minister of Health and the Chief Medical Officer (CMO). At that meeting the CMO stressed that it would make a significant difference, and be of huge public benefit, if churches were willing to continue at this time not to gather in person for services and other meetings.
In the light of the Executive’s extension of the current restrictions, and on the basis of the clear and unequivocal public health advice that people should continue to stay at home, the General Council Standing Committee, acting with the delegated authority of the General Council and General Assembly, has directed that all in-person Sunday gatherings for worship, along with all other in person church gatherings, should remain suspended in all PCI congregations in Northern Ireland until Thursday 1st April 2021 - with the exception of weddings, funerals, arrangements for recording and/or live-streaming, drive-in services and private prayer (as permitted by regulations).
The Standing Committee also decided that it would further assess the situation immediately after the next NI Executive review on Thursday 18thMarch 2021, in the cautious anticipation that, from Friday 2nd April (Good Friday) onwards, Presbyterian congregations in Northern Ireland could begin to meet again for in-person gatherings for worship, with all necessary precautions and mitigations in place. This recognises the importance of Easter, which was acknowledged by both the Ministers and the CMO at Monday’s meeting.
We again welcome that this same approach is also being taken by the Methodist Church, the Church of Ireland and, in a slightly different form, by the Roman Catholic Church.
At its meeting, the General Council Standing Committee also considered the issue of vaccination. The Committee were aware that a few groups are actively discouraging the take-up of vaccines and were informed that this is a significant cause of concern to the public health authorities. Following discussion the Standing Commission authorised the following statement for distribution to all active ministers in Northern Ireland and in Ireland, with the request that this be shared with our congregations:
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) encourages all of its members to actively consider receiving vaccination against Covid-19 when it is offered to them. While recognising that this is ultimately a matter of personal judgement, PCI neither discourages its members from taking up the vaccine offer nor is it supportive of those who seek to discourage the take-up of the vaccine.
We continue to hold all of our PCI congregations in our thoughts and prayers, asking God to graciously bless the ongoing life and witness of His people in these challenging times. We live in the hope that comes through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus - a hope that is sure and steadfast and which we look forward to celebrating in the Easter season which lies ahead.
Yours in His Service,
Rt Rev Dr David Bruce (Moderator or the General Assembly)
Rev Trevor Gribben (Clerk of the General Assembly)
This week we continue the 24/7 Prayer Course with Pete Greig - a course which we took part in a couple of years ago on Wednesday evenings. The videos have been re-recorded and a couple more sessions have been added since then so even if you attended the course they are well worth watching. Here is a link to the week 3 resource guide.
Open Doors has released the World Watch List. The list of countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian in 2021.
The full list can be found here
This week the focus is on Eritrea the sixth most dangerous country in the world to be a Christian. Read about Eritrea here
Christian Union’s Ireland
Prayer Guide 19th – 28th February
– Please pray for wisdom as we look to identify and train up new leaders who will take on this serving role within the CU. Pray that God will appoint the right people into these roles and that he will be working in their lives, preparing them for these roles.
– Pray for University College Cork’s Mission Week, taking place the 22nd – 26th February. Pray for Gareth Black and Hannah Irwin as they prepare to speak at the events, and for God to work in the hearts of students, even if it does have to be fully or mostly online.
“Reading Between The Lines” a series working through the bible looking at the well known phrases.
New Horizon Update
New Horizon issued the following update yesterday
The one certainty in these turbulent times is that apart from our Lord Himself everything is subject to change. This is also true for New Horizon 2021. We had hoped to organise a LIVE event but have now made the decision to livestream from behind closed doors. This means there will be no public meetings in Coleraine.
While we are sad that our coming together physically is delayed, we are thrilled that NH2021 will provide an online programme of Bible Teaching, worship and prayer with our guest speakers Chris Wright (for the morning Bible Teaching) and Malcolm Duncan and Kate Coleman (for the Evening Celebrations). This will take place from Monday 9 to Friday 13 August.
The times for yesterday’s Jigsaw
Play the "Big Fish Wednesday" puzzle!