Billy Kennedy on churches: Presbyterian Church seeks generosity for its latest appeal

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has once again called upon its 550 congregations to generously renew their financial support for the denomination’s World Development Appeal (WDA).

Rt Rev Dr David Bruce, Moderator, Presbyterian Church
Rt Rev Dr David Bruce, Moderator, Presbyterian Church

For more than 40 years, at this time of year in the lead-up to Christmas and the New Year, Irish Presbyterianism comes together to “marry Christ’s love” for their global neighbours with sacrificial and faithful giving.

This is the first world development appeal in two years, due to the covid pandemic. Last year, for practical reasons, the church launched a special Moderator’s Christmas appeal to provide support to people in fragile, vulnerable countries suffering due to the pandemic.

The fresh appeal, titled ‘In Weathering the Storm’, seeks help to assist vulnerable people in countries stricken by the pandemic, mainly targeting projects in Ethiopia and Haiti.

The Rev Richard Kerr, convener of the Presbyterian council for global mission, explains that the appeal offers congregations across Ireland the opportunity to learn more about, and support, the work of sustainable development undertaken by the church’s global development partners Christian Aid and Tearfund in targeted countries.

“The World Development Appeal seeks to provide a breadth of understanding of what good sustainable development practices look like and challenges they can encounter on the ground. It is hard work, but important work that also gives us a fresh vision of how we are connected to our brothers and sisters in Christ, however far away they may be.

“For many in the world, the covid pandemic continues to wreak havoc. Combined with a changing climate, and increased uncertainty and extreme weather events which that brings, millions of people face a very real joint threat. It is a perfect storm of Covid and climate. As creation groans, so many communities are struggling to sustain even the most basic of livelihoods, fighting hard to provide for their families and loved ones.”

Mr Kerr, a minister in Templepatrick, added: “The WDA is a great opportunity for us as a church to join with our development partners, Christian Aid Ireland and Tearfund, as global disciples of Jesus Christ. This year we will be supporting Christian Aid’s work in Ethiopia and Tearfund’s in Haiti. From previous appeals I know that the church is not only bighearted, but generous in its sacrificial giving, and many will be blessed through this appeal.”

This summer, there have been emergency humanitarian crises in both countries - in Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populated country, a severe drought and locust swarms have devastated crops, which has left more people facing food shortages. Haiti, in central America, was hit by an earthquake disaster resulting in a tragic loss of life and many damaged homes.

Commending the latest appeal, Presbyterian moderator Rev Dr David Bruce thanked church members across Ireland for their faithful and prayerful support for the most recent appeals. The 2019 appeal raised £573,484, while the 2020 Christmas appeal raised £363,910. In these recent appeals, more than 70 per cent of the 550 Presbyterian congregations contributed significant amounts.

“Along with our 2019 world development appeal, and our Christmas appeal last year, the Presbyterian Church was able to raise nearly £1million for projects that continue to make a difference. On behalf of our church I would thank everyone who contributed, especially last year. When things were difficult at home, we were still able to look beyond our front doors and our own needs to the needs of our global neighbours,” said Dr Bruce “Once again, through ‘In Weathering the Storm’ we have two fantastic projects to prayerfully support and an opportunity to share in a vision and make a difference beyond these shores.”

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