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News – Gospel light in East Belfast

December 2007

Gospel light in East Belfast

For the past 30 years, the city of Belfast has been synonymous with sectarian hatred and violence. This had little to do with religion and much to do with conflicting political aspirations. In recent years, however, the relative peace has given the city a new confidence and a new lease of life.

In each quarter of the city there are ambitious redevelopment programmes. All this provides fresh opportunities for business and culture to flourish, and above all for the church of Jesus Christ to extend the kingdom of God.

About a year ago the Reformed Presbyterian (RP) Church of Ireland, which has had a witness in Belfast for over 200 years, began to pray about and plan for a new RP work in the east of the city. On Friday 12 October about 60 people gathered in the Cregagh Community Centre for its launch.

Prof. Robert McCollum preached on ‘Preparation for mission’. He based his address on Acts 1:12-14 and Luke 24:52. He showed that the apostles – charged with a commission to take the gospel to the whole world – were committed to Christ, committed to one another, and committed to prayer. Any new RP witness will need to share these same commitments.

James Kerr gave a power-point presentation showing that East Belfast, with a population of 115,000, is overwhelmingly Protestant. Over the past 30 years its heartland has been home to hard-line Protestant paramilitary organisations. It has also suffered greatly from unemployment due to the demise of heavy industry.

Although East Belfast has a good number of churches, few preach or practise the reformed faith. It is hoped that this new work will fill this void. Rev. Harry Coulter outlined three practical ways in which those attending could be involved.

He invited interested persons to attend follow-up meetings beginning on Friday 9 November. Further information can be obtained from Robert McCollum (028 92664313) or Harry Coulter (028 93366201). Please pray that the cause of Christ will again flourish in the city of Belfast.
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