Co-Chair Ruth’s Blog: 19th September 2023
On Friday I flew to Belfast from Liverpool to attend the Methodist Women in Ireland (MWI), Conference at the Drumalis Retreat and Conference Centre in Larne. I received a wonderful welcome and I was met at the airport by Moira, the secretary of MWI, and Joan Strong, the previous President, then transported to the Retreat Centre, where I was met by Olive, the President. Dumalis is a beautiful Centre with a very impressive staircase and colourful stained-glass windows set in splendid grounds. Each person was given a bag of lavender, to help promote sleep, a welcome card, a programme and a chocolate.
The challenging theme of the conference was ‘Faith Over Fear’ which in the setting of Northern Ireland, had real significance for the women attending. The speaker was Rev Maureen Hassard, a Supernumary Minister who had served in Northern Ireland. She encouraged us to examine our faith in the light of two questions:
- What does your faith look like to Jesus?
- What does your faith look like to other people?
Fear is a natural response to a threat which causes us either to take flight or to fight it. Anxiety imagines the ‘What ifs?’ Faith over fear is living with promises- God’s promises and we should forward all our issues to heaven, handing them over to God. We are encouraged to spend time in prayer and meditation, seek wise counsel, to step out in obedience and embrace a long term expective believing that God is faithful and putting our trust in him/her.
The Methodist Connexional President of Ireland, Rev David Turtle joined us for lunch and then answered questions during the afternoon session. This was followed by a cookery demonstration by Ingrid, who managed to demonstrate and cook seven tray bakes in an hour! She was amazing and of course we had to sample them all! The rain subsided for an hour, so I was able to walk around the lovely grounds and to find the sea.
There was an evening of games and quizzes. One quiz was on places in Ireland and proved to me how bad my geography is! There was much fun and laughter.
The conference concluded on the Sunday with a Communion Service led by Olive and Maureen. I was delighted to be asked to distribute the wine, which meant I had met everyone there. I came away richer than I had arrived with new friends and much to reflect upon. Thank you to all MWI for making me so welcome.