Address given at the Memorial Service for the Rev Tom Banham MIEE, BD, at First Church, Belfast, Saturday, 30 November 2019

By Rev Dr David Steers 

‘When in doubt, steam towards the sound of the guns.’

These were the words with which the Rev Tom Banham commenced his ministry here in November 1975. It was the starting point of his statement of principles and objects when he was installed as minister here by the Presbytery of Antrim. I have no doubt that a good number of those here today will have been present on that occasion, held, not in the church for that was not fit to hold a service at the time, but in the Central Hall.

Address given at the funeral of the Very Rev William McMillan MBE, MA at Dunmurry, Thursday, 23 January 2020

By Rev Dr David Steers

How do we do justice to a person as vivid, as lively, as remarkable as the Rev Mac? There were so many facets to his character, so many ways in which he touched such a wide variety of people, so many ways in which he came to our attention and was such a force for good.

Redemptive Violence or Redemptive Love

Genesis 6:1-22 & Genesis 9:9-17

There are a number of ways of reading the story of Noah and the Flood. Today I would like to reflect on two possibilities.

One way is to read it as a literal historical account. When one does so, then all sorts of questions follow:

  • Today we know of million of species. How did Noah fit all those animals into the ark? Even if one were to use a modern day cruise-liner, it would seem like a logistical impossibility.
  • How would science explain a flood that covered every land mass on earth with water up to the highest mountain peaks. Scientifically speaking it is sounds like an impossible story.
  • Perhaps the most important question of all... Is God really like that? Did God, in a flash-flood of anger, really wipe out the whole population of the earth. Is God really like that? If, as we learn from Jesus, God is essentially love, then how does a loving God in a moment of calculated anger wipe out the entire inhabited world. Is this a God you can trust? Because if truth be told, we all have our weaknesses and faults. None of us is without our problems and without our sins. Are any of us safe in the hands of such a ruthless and angry God?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Rev. Dr. Linda Ballard 

On 9 April 1945, three weeks before the suicide of Adolf Hitler, the pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed in Flossenburg concentration camp in Bavaria, Germany. The camp was liberated by American soldiers a fortnight later on April 23rd; but this came too late for Bonhoeffer. Even before Hitler rose to power, Bonhoeffer was outspoken in resisting Nazism. He was a founder member of the Confessing Church, which opposed the attitude generally taken by the church in Germany to the advance of Nazism. He was involved in operations to assist Jews to escape from Germany and in other activities, for which he was arrested in 1943.  Bonhoeffer might be described as a pragmatic pacifist, and during 1944, he came under suspicion of involvement in a plot to kill Hitler. It was as a result of this that he was executed. While the resistance group to which he belonged did plot to assassinate Hitler, there is no clear evidence that Bonhoeffer was directly involved in these plans. However, when the plot failed, he was aware of the likelihood of execution and afterwards lived daily under the threat of death. When offered a chance to escape from prison he refused, aware that to attempt an escape might result in reprisals on, and cause suffering for, his family.

Ancient, Ambigious and Diverse

Rev. Brian Moodie 

Deuteronomy 21:10-21 

I’ve just started reading a book by Peter Enns, a Professor in Biblical Studies in the United States. He recalls how a few years ago, he attended a parents meeting at his children’s junior high school. At the meeting, the headmaster urged the parents was to resist the temptation to become helicopter parents. To resist the temptation of trying to swoop in and solve all their children’s problems, or getting so involved in their children’s homework projects that they ended up doing the projects instead of the children themselves. 

I will come back to Helicopter parenting in a moment. 

The book by Peter Enns that I am reading is entitled: “How the Bible Actually Works”. 

A Lenten challenge!

Moneyreagh Non-Subscribing Presbyterian church

Sunday 15th March 2020 - Address: ‘A Lenten challenge!’

Rev. Chris Wilson 

Friends, today is the third Sunday of Lent. That time of self-examination and reflection ahead of Holy Week, ahead of Easter continues. Have you given up anything for Lent? I have set aside drinking red wine (in particular, Malbec) not that I drink much but I do (or should that be did?) enjoy a nice glass of wine, only when I am ‘off duty’ of course. 

Perhaps you are doing better than me? Do let me know if you giving-up anything for Lent. It is always good to exercise a little self-discipline. Those little sacrifices are certainly useful. But today, I want to encourage us all to give something else up for the Lent. And this is something we can only do together, so we can only achieve this if we encourage each other. Here is my Lenten challenge. Let’s give up prejudice