Monday 25 May: Monaghan to Buncrana, Co Donegal
For seven days, VOX editor Ruth Garvey-Williams and her husband Andrew are travelling around the island asking, "What is God doing in Ireland today?"
Along the way, they meet inspirational people who are living out their faith in real life. This blog brings a round up from the final day!
Finding faith in the town centre
Our overnight host Rev Ian Berry (St Patrick's, Church of Ireland) took us into the centre of Monaghan to visit the Hope Cafe (an initiative of Ballyalbany Presbyterian Church and Crown Jesus Ministries mentioned in the last issue of VOX). The beautifully decorated cafe is opening several days a week for members of the public and also hosts regular cafe church. Other churches in town also use the facilities for youth meetings and other events. A recent joint-church coffee morning raised over 1,700 euro for Tearfund after the earthquake in Nepal.
At the cafe we meet Rev Ronnie Agnew from First Monaghan Presbyterian Church. We had a chuckle when we sat down four our coffee saw the word painted across the table... so we did find FAITH on our tour!
Both ministers admit sometimes they need to step back and reflect to see the growth and developments in their churches. For Rev. Ian, the fellowship times after services are a great encouragement, while Rev Ronnie is delighted to see so many of his congregation getting involved in mission work. The unity and interaction between churches has also been a great encouragement, especially in the run up to Christmas and Easter.
Finding faith in school
From the Hope Cafe, we drive across town to visit the Monaghan Collegiate School - this Protestant Secondary School is home to over 260 children including both Protestants and Catholics from Ireland and a number of international students. In total, there are over 20 nationalities at the school!
We meet School Principal Johnston Reid to chat about what it means to have a Christian ethos in school. "The first value is forgiveness and also taking time with people. I have two management qualifications and one counselling qualification, but it is the latter that I use most of the time. It is so important for us to be person-centred! Some people have said, 'You can take this Christian compassion too far.' My response is, 'That is one thing I won't be changing in the school!'"
From Monaghan, weary but thankful, we drive the two hours home to Donegal. This week has given us insight into the lives and stories of some amazing individuals, churches and ministries. Once again we have found people all over this island who are living out their faith in real live! What a privilege!
Don't forget to get the next issue of VOX magazine to read more stories from the Finding Faith Tour 2015!