A new chapter in the life of The Church of Christ in and around Ballina began on Monday 25th April in Saint Muredach’s Cathedral when Emma Rodrigues was Commission to be Church Army Evangelist in the Ballina Churches Together Outreach and Mission Project.
The Service of the Word was led jointly by Bishop Patrick Rooke, bishop of Tuam, Killala and Achonry, and Bishop John Fleming, bishop of Killala.
A passage from Genisis was read by Captain Neville Wilterton, Church Army Operations Manager and the second lesson, from Luke’s gospel was read by Emma.
Canon Mark Russel, Chief Executive of Church, was the preacher. His theme was ‘Re-opening Blocked Wells’ and reflected the Old Testment passage in which the story is told of Isaac reopening the ancient wells that had been dug in Abraham’s time. Developing that, Canon Mark spoke to what he called ‘three pieces of wisdom’ highlighted in the New Testament reading – the story of Jesus’ call to Zacchaeus:
Love those on the edges
Loving unconditionally changes the world
Canon Mark closed his address with words of encouragement for both Emma and those involved in Ballina Churches Together:
‘Please get behind Emma, and this new project. Please pray for her and her family. Please encourage her.
This is an evening full of hope and expectation, and together we can join God in his mission, to reach more and more people in this community with the transforming good news of the gospel, and reopen the ancient wells, to bring blessing and hope and renewal to this community.’
Emma herself then spoke of her work as lead evangelist in BCT.
The Commissioning was truly an ecumenical affair. Led by bishop Patrick it involved Revd. Jeremy Nicoll ( Methodist Minister ), Revd. Stephen McWhirter ( CoI Rector ), Mr Mike Herron ( Presbyterian Community Outreach Worker ), Fr Gerry O’Hora ( Cathedral Administrator ) and Fr Anthony Gillespie ( Killala Ecumenical Priest ).
After bishop Patrick had presented Emma with her licence, the intercessions were led by Ann McCormick ( Methodist ), Clive Moore ( CoI ), Rosamunde Adamson ( Presbyterian ) and Barry McLoughlin ( RC ). This again firmly rooted the project in the joint-partnership ‘togetherness’ envisioned by Ballina Churches Together.
Faithful to the overarching spirit of ‘Unity of Witness and Service’ which pervades the whole BCT Project, the closing Benediction was said jointly by all the sponsoring clergy present.