These are interesting times for all of us in ministry. Much of our community chaplaincy / gatherings etc have come to a halt. However, we are thankful for the many zoom / telephone calls that help keep us connected. We have both been asked to contribute to a number of zoom conversations eg. Coaching, TedX, Thought for the Day, Online Sermons/contributions etc.
Our recent season has been both interesting and exciting. Karen was officially accredited and recognised as the first female Baptist Minister on the island of Ireland, and was also reappointed as Chaplain to the new Lord Mayor of Belfast. Such developments have helped us to build and form relationships deep in our communities. Gordon is continuing to work and help other groups form missional /creative communities – both in Belfast, and Newry. It is so encouraging to see others approach us seeking guidance and advice as they rethink how they do Church.
- Our peace and reconciliation work is at times exhausting. But we were so thankful to be asked to host a community carol service at one of the most contentious interfaces in Belfast. It was encouraging to see politicians and folks from the community come together to not only song carols, but to stand together against recent street disturbances.
- We are still part of the ‘Journey of Hope’ group which started a year ago – a gathering and learning group consisting of peacemakers from UK & Ireland. We are excited about the relationships created through this initiative, and looking forward to working together.
- Prayer Initiative – We had the privilege to host (for 2 days) the ‘Relentless’ prayer event during Lent. We enjoy good relationships with other Church leaders and attend/engage in a monthly clergy breakfast.
- Trish who is our ‘Chaplain in Training’ has almost completed her first year studying Theology at Luther King College, Manchester. We are thankful for her commitment to our team and ministry. She is keen to be part of UE, and so we will continue this journey with her after the lockdown.
- BUGB connections – we are in the process of developing links with NWBA, and other Baptist Associations
Recent significant developments
Forthspring Community Group – this particular group is based in a former Methodist Church on the Springfield Road, West Belfast. We love this building as it is literally built into the peace wall and stretches across both communities. We have been in talks with the trustees about the possibility of us expanding our work to West Belfast. As you are aware we are based in an Arts Centre in North Belfast (The Duncairn) – we are thankful for the opportunity to develop our community chaplaincy, community food bank etc at these premises – but we have felt for a while that we have reached our capacity there. It is difficult to book space for Crucible and other courses etc. Last month we had a zoom call with the ForthSpring Trustees and they have officially invited us to come and be part of their organisation. Over the next number of months rent, space, time etc need to be agreed and so we would value your prayers as we take this leap of faith. We will continue to also run our chaplaincy etc in the Duncairn.
- We are in the process of legally changing our name from The Down Community to SoulSpace .. this is an important move for us as we are no longer based in County Down but rather Belfast. We are using the expertise of others to help us through this process as it affects our Charity objectives etc
- The continuation to look for future funding to cover costs
- The need to grow our team / chaplains