The President of the British Union Conference, Pastor Ian Sweeney led the opening devotional at the Irish Mission Session, on Sunday 31 October, by focussing on the oft overlooked song of praise, Psalm 117. His theme was that as we recognise God's love and leading over the last few years, let's unite as one people and sing the song of Psalms 117:
Praise the Lord all you nations; extol Him, all you peoples.
For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
The Irish Mission has truly experienced God's faithfulness over the past two years. The term started on a high note with the theme Establish, Empower, Engage. The departmental sponsors were just starting to implement their well thought out plans when Covid-19 struck. Overnight society was placed in lockdown – locked inside their houses, locked out of their churches, and locked into spirals of fear, isolation and rumours. The 2019-2020 Irish Mission Session reports are a testimony to the great faithfulness of God, who turned the global pandemic into opportunities for His church.
The President's report, by Pastor Dan Serb, highlighted three types of opportunities. Firstly, the church successfully embraced technology and quickly switched to doing church online. Secondly, new initiatives developed, including the Storehouse giving app, Discover Truth, the Centre for Conflict Resolution and the BelievAble Talks documentary series 'Beyond the Burden of Proof'. Thirdly, infrastructural development and growth opportunities were embraced; including acquiring a property for the Dublin West church and ACS centre, the registration as a charity in the Republic of Ireland, and the appointment of a Global Pioneer who will be arriving soon to establish a church plant in Limerick.
God has opened doors for ministry during the pandemic. The Secretary's report confirmed this showing an accumulative growth approximately double the other entities in the BUC. The Secretary, Pastor Jacques Venter, observed that the membership is not really Irish. He asked two poignant questions: "How are we called to be missionaries in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland?" and "What way can we integrate and share with the Irish and UK populations here?" During the Q&A time, Precious Madubeko gave a moving challenge to her fellow African immigrants to embrace God's call to become missionaries. She encouraged everyone to think beyond their personal prosperity and to engage the church, one's neighbours and broader community.
Earl Ramharacksingh, together with Aftab Barki, presented the Treasurer's report. The pandemic took a grip in the British Isles in March 2020, and the resultant financial consequences impacted everyone. The Treasurer's report highlighted that, in the midst of this financial crisis, our church members have been faithful. The 2019-2020 tithe return shows a 9% increase over that of 2017-2018. One of the true blessings of returning tithe and offerings in the Irish Mission is Gift Aid (in Northern Ireland) and Tax Effective Giving (in the Republic of Ireland), which allows the Irish Mission to claim and receive much-needed extra income. All were encouraged to take part in these schemes, especially members in the Republic of Ireland. There was a lively debate regarding the allocation of the extra income, and further consultation will take place over the next few months.
The theme of faithfulness was a thread of hope running through all the departmental reports. God's faithfulness was evident in big and small ways. We truly serve a loving, faithful God. I also observed the faithfulness of the church members as they ministered, encouraged, and sacrificed by giving of their time, resources and energies to share the gospel to those in their communities. As we move into the new term, let us weave the thread of faithfulness through all we do. We have the assurance that God is weaving His acts of faithfulness to provide a solid foundation for us. May God bless us as we remain faithful.
Strategic Plan 2021-2026
A major portion of the afternoon at the Session was the presentation of the strategic plan, formulated by the Irish Mission pastoral team for discussion and consideration. Presented by Pastors Adam Keough and Lorance Johnson the plan was approved. It is shared here in summary form
The theme of our last Session in 2019 was Establish. Empower. Engage.[i] At this session, given the limitations of the pandemic, we have decided to relaunch the theme Establish. Empower. Engage. We will also redouble our efforts to intentionally address some of the ongoing challenges in our Mission, namely:
- We face the need to experience greater interconnectedness across our Mission. Some of our church communities are experiencing isolation from the rest of the Mission family.
- Some of our smaller churches/groups are struggling to function. How can we provide support?
- Can we help find solutions to resolve conflict among members? Ignoring this problem could stifle the church in its function and mission.
- Can we explore ways to reach indigenous Irish in the North and South of our territory who remain unreached.
- We want to explore ways in which we can come alongside our young people to support, encourage, ground and strengthen them in their faith.
- We need to be using up-to-date means of communicating our message through harnessing the expertise of our members skilled in this area to assist us.
Thus, we propose to address the above challenges in the following strategic ways:
1. Revitalising Congregations
To revitalise the congregations on the north coast (i.e. Larne, Coleraine, and Derry/Londonderry).
While over the last 20 years or more many of our congregations have grown in numbers and new churches have sprung up across the Mission, the reality is that some of our long-established congregations have had negative growth.
2. Grow New and Develop Current Ministries
To empower our current ministries to grow and develop while also providing support and guidance in launching new ones.
We recognise that across the Irish Mission there are a number of growing and developing ministries, such as, but not limited to:
- Discover Truth
- Adventist Community Services
- Centre for Conflict Resolution Europe
- Local Centres of Influence
We believe that witness and evangelism are best practiced when we bridge services so that our programmes complement one another. This would ensure that churches do not work in isolation but rather network and minister in a united way across the Mission.
3. Establish a Media and Youth Centre
To establish a media and youth centre whereby we can empower and train young, media-savvy members to develop innovative, creative, and relevant local material through which we can share the Gospel within our immediate context.
The goal is for its programmes and initiatives to have a region-wide impact and to address the needs of all ages, cultural backgrounds, and diverse evangelistic methods.
4. Establish an Innovation and Marketing Ministry
To establish an innovation and marketing ministry comprising of a think-thank of creative people across the Mission and thus create an environment where new ministries can be dreamed, conceptualised, and established.
It is our desire for church members to partner with the pastoral team in designing and implementing innovative ways for reaching our communities. Thus making God and our Church known in tangible and credible ways.
5. Change of Status to an Irish Conference
We therefore believe that we have reached the tipping point for change of organisational status and thus our fifth strategic objective is to change our status to an Irish Conference.
The process will not be completed overnight; it will take a number of years as ministries and departments become more independently sustainable from our Union colleagues. Also, this would mean that it would be in the remit of the Irish Mission membership to elect its own leaders. We believe that this is the right time to build on the steps that have already been taken and work, together with the Division and the Union, on completing the process by the next Session.
Nominating Committee Report
Adventist Community Services Helena Kunova
- Associate Ionut (Johnny) Cioloca
Adventurers & Pathfinders Bogdan Stan
- Associate Referred to the incoming IM Excom
Children's Ministries Petar Popivanov
Church Growth/Evangelism/SS Sharon Murphy
Family Ministries Precious Madubeko
Health Ministries Dr Raymond Ehiemere
Media & Communications Pam Petersen
- Associate Iain Irvine (Digital Media)
Men's Ministries Qubein Hlongwane
Prayer Ministries Pastor Tony O'Rourke
Public Campus Ministries Pastor Greg Davis
Stewardship Audrey Moyo
Youth Ministries Pastor Jefferson Melki
Referred to incoming Executive Committee: NI & ROI Safeguarding, Risk Manager, Trust Services, Women's Ministries.
Chair Pastor Dan Serb
Secretary Pastor Jacques Venter
Treasurer Wederly Aguiar
Pastor Andrew Willis (Banbridge/Larne)
Pastor Adam Keough (Dublin Ranelagh)
Jeason Kanagaraj (Dublin Ranelagh)
Joe Mhondiwa (Cork)
Telma Mendez (Drumcondra)
Pasquina Sidu (Kilkenny)
Joseph Donaldson (Banbridge)
Betty O'Rourke (Galway)
Caroline O'Brien (Belfast)
Here's the online gallery, pictures taken by Iain Irvine.
Pam Petersen and the Irish Mission Pastoral Team.
[i] A brief summary of the Establish. Empower. Engage. theme is found in the President's report on page 13.
To read the Strategic Plan in full, go to:
To read the Session Report book, go to: