Tearfund Northern Ireland

At Tearfund, we believe the local church is central to overcoming poverty and transforming lives. We’re part of it, along with others around the world and with each and every one of our amazing supporters. Together, we make up the global church. Tearfund has operated in Northern Ireland for more than 40 years and continues with a strong network of supporters and churches.

We have a vision to see 50 million people released from material and spiritual poverty through a worldwide network of 100,000 local churches.

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3 posts tagged Presbyterian Special Assembly

Tim Magowan asked me to share something about my congregation, Fitzroy Presbyterian’s, relationship with the Tearfund Discovery Course at the recent Presbyterian Special Assembly.

I was pleased to do because Discovery has been profoundly helpful on Fitzroy’s recent journey of trying to imagine and implement Biblical, and thus holistic, mission in our local area.

I arrived at the Church at the end of 2009 and though Fitzroy make missional impressions across Belfast there were only a couple of projects that targeted the area immediately surrounding our Church building and we were itching to work out how we might add to those. As we were praying and pondering about such things the South Belfast Presbytery suggested that we should use Discovery as we put together our Mission Plan which is obligatory to all Presbyterian congregations.

What the course did was to enable us to start that thinking process. It was very practical. Find out and celebrate what you are. Then audit the area. Then dream dreams and begin to prepare a team to fulfil the potential. One of the benefits we had was to send six people who therefore got to start this thinking process together. Since the course this group has continued to meet in order to help flesh out how we can follow through.

As a result of Discovery my preaching this autumn is going to be a Biblical study and celebration of who we are. We have put a team together to both start relating to the local community but also gathering information about local needs and opinions of who we are. This group will be divided into groups liaising with “hotels”, “retail” and “residents” and be continual connections to those groups over the next number of years.

These are first steps but these steps and our journey ahead has been greatly influenced by this two day course that we found practical, Biblical and inspirational. I would greatly encourage every congregation to do the course and, from our experience, do it with a group from your own Church and if possible do it with a couple of other Churches in your area or town so that you can share information and ideas.

One of the things that struck me about the Presbyterian Special Assembly was David Bruce’s thought that Presbyterians have been historically inward looking. He spoke of how at the time of the plantations we built bawns around our homes and farms and protected ourselves inside them. He challenged us to be “confident in Christ” (the Assembly’s title) and to break out of these historical bawns in our mission. Discovery is the perfect resource to help us do just that.

Rev Steve Stockman


As part of the Presbyterian Special Assembly I was asked to be interviewed as a panel of PCI Ministers by Tearfund as part of their workshop - Acting Justly & Loving Mercy In The Global Village.

Our church has a history of reaching out into the community. One of the successful ventures has been Nightlight, where a small group from the church provide hot drinks for late night revellers in Newcastle. It’s a great way to show Jesus’ love practically.

One of the key questions we’ve faced is - how do we enable the whole congregation to be outward focused?  

To address this we used the  ’Just People' course to stimulate all of us to take seriously the call of Christ to be salt and light in the world.  The course helped to open our eyes to the needs around us.

The focus on the biblical teaching plus the practical examples of how to ‘love your neighbour’ provoked good debate and helped us think though the implication of mission for our Church, before we use the Discovery resource to implement our Mission Plan.

Now that the reception area at the church is open each day for people to drop in, some of those who took the course realised that they had the ‘gift’ of friendship and have been volunteering to help out. Also, many of our people volunteered to go out on Friday and Saturday nights with Nightlight around Newcastle town, offering refreshments and support to those coming out of pubs and clubs.

During the discussion in the Tearfund Workshop I was reminded of a relatively new Reformed Church in Budapest who sought to reach out into the community. Instead of starting something new they found out what was already happening in their community (albeit a secular setting) and offered to come along side and help them. They are now involved in work with alcoholics and other social programmes.

This type of church transformation is not easy, it won’t happen over night, but if we are to be people of salt and light, we need to be outside the salt cellar and not hide our lamp under a bushel.


Rev Ivan Patterson - Newcastle Presbyterian Church

Tearfund @ The Presbyterian Special Assembly: Acting justly and loving mercy in the global village

Tim Macgowan

Over 50 Presbyterian church leaders attended our workshop at the Presbyterian Special Assembly looking at how churches can transform communities locally and globally.

Three key messages emerged from the discussion :

Firstly, churches have the potential to transform society on a massive scale. In Ethiopia last year for example I visited The Meserete Kristos Church, a denomination which is helping 15,000, 1 in 8 of the local population. If our churches were operating on the same scale in Northern Ireland, we could be helping over 200,000 people, nearly 60% of the people living under the poverty line.

Secondly, churches which listen well to peoples’ needs, and build strong relationships, are able to transform people’s lives holistically. For example, one of the staff from WDO, one of our Cambodian partners, lived in Pastor Chheoun’s village for 6 months helping him establish a small church and train local leaders. After listening to the community’s needs, the team then trained local people to plant nutritional crops and build a rice bank, ensuring there was food during the hungry season. As a result, Pastor’s Chheoun’s community is thriving and 20 families have now come to faith.

Thirdly, start small. Ballynahinch Baptist started engaging its community through a litter pick up. Over time they have acquired a community house to run support groups and established a scheme to provide furniture for vulnerable people and families.

As part of the session three Presbyterian church leaders highlighted the opportunities and the very real challenges they face in engaging communities locally and globally. Over the next three days we plan to share these stories on this blog.

In the meantime you can find out more about Pastor Chheoun’s amazing story by clicking here.


Tim Magowan

Northern Ireland Director, Tearfund

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