Having just returned from a church mission trip to Johannesburg on Saturday 7th, Rev Gareth MacLean conducted his last service of morning worship as minister of First Presbyterian Church, Ballymoney on Sunday 8th July.
While Gareth acknowledged the import of the occasion, he reminded the congregation that the focus of the service was to meet with and worship God.
During the service, Grace Lee, who had also been on the mission team, brought an update about the team’s activities.
Gareth then preached a sermon based on Acts 2, comparing the positive elements of the work and witness of First to the early Christian church, encouraging the members to continue to model the early church. He recalled the progress that the church had made in terms of faith and outreach but he also used the opportunity to deliver a gospel call - to invite those who had yet to make a commitment of faith to accept Jesus as saviour.
Following the worship service, Neil Robinson, clerk of session, spoke fondly about Gareth’s time as minister of First before Helen Murray, church secretary, presented Gareth and Lara with a gift.
After the presentations, the congregation moved to the main hall to enjoy a bring and share lunch.
Gareth had this to say in a prepared statement on the church bulletin: "On this our final Sunday in First Ballymoney, we wish to express our love and gratitude for every member, for every conversation and for every experience that we have shared with you in our time here. It has been a privilege to serve here in First Ballymoney and see how God has been at work in us as a community as we have listened to His voice and stepped out in faith with Him. We are forever grateful for the grace, kindness, love, patience and generosity which you have shown to us as a family. With much love, Gareth, Lara, Karis, Archie and Lily."