Rector’s Letter – Autumn 2016

Dear Friends

“So be it, Lord; Thy throne shall never, Like earth’s proud empires, pass away: Thy kingdom stands, and grows forever, Till all Thy creatures own Thy sway.”

John Ellerton’s poignant last verse to his hymn “The day thou gavest Lord is ended”, chosen by Queen Victoria for a service to mark the 60th Anniversary of her reign, is a good introduction to my thoughts for this edition. This has been a season of anniversaries; HM The Queen’s 90th Birthday, the Easter Rising, the Battle of the Somme, and the Battle of Jutland Commemorations. All moments in the life of nations.

In Donaghadee we marked the Queen’s Birthday at morning worship and recalled the Somme with an emotional Remembrance Service, remembering the lives of those connected to Donaghadee, who fought or fell at that battle.

Looking back is important, I thought it good that our young people experience just a little bit of one of my interests– military history. So I took ten of them to Berlin to see the sights of a rebuilt city.

They experienced the destruction of the allied bombings, the various memorials to Nazi atrocities and a visit to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. The group spent time learning about the division of a city and defeated nation after the Second World War and the various escape attempts across the Berlin Wall, many ending in tragedy.

Our young people enjoyed a visit to the Berliner Dom (Cathedral) to see the tombs of the Kaisers in the crypt, the beautiful church interior and a walk around the outside of the huge dome, with a panoramic view high up over Berlin! This visited ended with Schwarzwald Kirsch Kuchen (Black Forest Gateau) in the Cathedral Refectory Café.

Great food, brilliant tourist sights, high wire adventure climbing and some terrific shopping! Berlin didn’t know what hit it when the Donaghadee 13 arrived!

Earth’s empires come and go and in doing so, often cause great destruction. The trip was a great team building exercise and also helped to remind our young people of the value of human life (especially the trip to the concentration camp) and an encouragement for them to live life to the full – rooted in Jesus Christ.

It also was a reminder to me of how valuable each of them are to us as a congregation! This summer many young people have lost their lives in various atrocities in the USA and Europe. As I think back over the many children I have baptised during my time as rector in Donaghadee and consider the numbers that come along to Sunday school – I do ask myself some hard questions:

Do parents really mean the promises they make in baptismal services? Do they value their children’s spiritual health as much as their physical health? Do they feel that Christian faith, in a godless, valueless and hostile world, is important?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, then please come along and live out your baptismal promises for your family through regular worship in Donghadee Parish Church. September is a new start to the working year please take your place in the church family, you will be made very welcome at YOUR Church!

In Donaghadee Parish children and young people matter – our worship is geared to include them and to help them grow in their faith. But this only happens if parents – not just send them – but bring them along regularly to Church AND Sunday School /Youth group.

Thank you to all who helped make the Berlin Trip 2016 such a success! I know that our young people enjoyed it and that some of the lessons of life in that great city have imprinted their lives for the good! A trip of a lifetime for them to remember!

Your friend and Rector