Ist Donegore Presbyterian Church invited the Network meeting to Parkgate for their 9th meeting on Saturday 18th March 2017. Due to a funeral on that morning the meeting was hosted in Templeton Hotel, Templepatrick, Co Antrim and commenced as usual with refreshments.
Attendees represented Kilbride, Abbey, Hillsborough, 1st & 2nd Donegore and Ballynure Presbyterian churches, Christian Fellowship Church, Drumalis Retreat Centre, Eco-Congregation Ireland, A Rocha UK and Templepatrick Presbytery, Northern Ireland Community Energy.
Sam Pollock opened with prayer and on behalf of the Church welcomed members to Donegore, apologised for the last minute change of venue but hoped that it would not detract from the meeting. He was also sorry that 3 people who had planned to be at the meeting were helping with hospitality at the funeral of a well-known person in the Church.
Bertie Stirling then reported some apologies which had been received and outlined the format of the meeting. It was good to see some new faces and a couple of new churches represented. 18 members had come for the meeting which was encouraging. First of all was the usual round the table introductions and update stories from attendees.
There was then an update from A Rocha including new projects in Northern Ireland and Eco-Congregation Ireland including the momentum gained on the travels of the Climate Justice Candle.
We heard of the new developments at Drumalis and the continuing success of ‘Ballynature Day’.
Changes of creation care as part of worship in the churches in Hillsborough, Whiteabbey and Donegore were also reported. Later Ron described the longer term changes in Christian worship indicated by the fact that a group like this now existed. Everyone was so encouraged that there is plenty going on and new initiatives emerging.
The focus of this Network meeting was a talk from a guest speaker Rev Dr. Ron Elsdon who was welcomed and who then gave an extensive talk with Power Point support. Ron has long established roots with A Rocha and he goes back a long time both here in Northern Ireland but mainly in England. He highlighted initiatives in his churches stemming back over many years when it was not topical or common for ecological ideas to be developed or linked directly to Christian worship. Members received a superb outline from scripture of the primary theological basis for Christians to make creation care central to Christian belief, Christian worship and Christian living. It was an excellent talk and there was some time for questions following the talk.
Bertie Stirling brought the meeting to a close after discussion ranging from paper cups at church events to microbeads in the oceans. It was agreed that a date for the next meeting would be fixed for September/October and the venue would be Hillsborough Presbyterian Church.
Those present had registered and given an email address and it was suggested and agreed that the list could be used for circulation unless anyone expressed objection and no one objected.
The meeting closed with prayer.