Tuesday 6th September was a momentous day in Donemana, according to the local Rural Dean, Rev Canon Paul Whittaker. It was a day on which the local Church of Ireland Parish of Donagheady got a new Rector and a new Prime Minister, he said.

The new incumbent – in Donemana, not in Downing Street – is Rev. Capt. Richard Beadle, who was instituted by the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, at a service in St James’ Church on Tuesday evening. The new Rector’s wife, Pauline, was in church for the service but the couple’s three children, who study in England, were unable to be there. Bishop Andrew said the congregation’s prayers were with the Beadle children.

Members of the Manorhamilton Group of Parishes, in the Diocese of Kilmore, which Rev Beadle had overseen as Bishop’s Curate since his ordination in September 2017, made the long journey to Donemana for the institution. The new incumbent paid tribute to his immediate predecessor, Rev Dr Robin Stockitt – who retired just over a year ago – for all he had done to build up the parish.

The preacher, the Archdeacon of Ardagh, Venerable Hazel Hicks, caught the congregation’s attention very quickly when she likened ministry – for parishioners as well as clergy – to the ‘hokey-pokey’. The children’s song always finished with the words, ‘Put your whole self in’, Archdeacon Hicks said, and it reminded her of the instruction from the apostle Paul, in the first reading, from Romans Chapter 12: ‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.’ “To present or offer our bodies,” the Archdeacon said, “is St Paul’s way of saying to put your whole self in.”

Some of his new parishioners would be wondering, the preacher surmised, what the new Rector was going to be like; how long he would preach for; whether he could work with older people or young people; what were the things he was going to change?

“But maybe those are not the questions we should be asking,” Archdeacon Hicks said. “Maybe we should be asking what plans has God for Richard? And what plans has God for this parish? Reverend Richard, and all of you in the congregation, need to put your whole selves in to serve God in this place. And I can assure you that Richard will do just that, in serving God here, but he can’t do it on his own, because God has given Richard gifts, but none of us has all the gifts for ministry.”

The preacher urged the people of Donemana to work with their new Rector to serve God. Paul tells us, she said, that in His grace, God has given us certain gifts for doing things well (Romans 12:6): prophesy, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading, showing kindness to others. “Ask yourself tonight, ‘What gift has God given me?’ And how can you use that gift to serve Him here, or in your parish, wherever that is?” Archdeacon Hicks asked those present to use their gifts wholeheartedly, to serve God in everything that they did: “Put your whole self in.”

Earlier in the service, Bishop Andrew said it was his great pleasure to welcome the congregation to a special and important service in the life of the Parish of Donagheady and in its distinguished history. It was, he said, a special night for Richard and Pauline, and their family, as they took a new step of faith and of service in Donemana. The Bishop welcomed clergy from the Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and Methodist Churches who were in St James’s for the service.

Bishop Andrew acknowledged how difficult it was for Richard and Pauline to leave the people they had served faithfully and loved diligently, in Manorhamilton, but said he was glad that Donemana was where God had called Richard to be in the next phase of his ministry.

The arrangements for Tuesday’s service were made by Canon Whittaker, who assisted the Bishop during the worship, along with the Archdeacon of Derry, Ven. Robert Miller, Diocesan Registrar, Rev Canon David Crooks, and Bishop’s Chaplain Rev Carmen Hayes. The readings were delivered by Rev Albert Dawson from Manorhamilton Group of Parishes and by the Donagheady Parish treasurer, Mrs Heather Hamilton. Music was provided by the St James’ Church choir, directed by Mrs Rhonda Dunn, and by the church organist, Mrs Jane Kee.

After the service, the congregation made their way to the nearby hall for refreshments and speeches. Welcoming the new Church of Ireland incumbent, the local Presbyterian minister, Rev Dr Seth Wright, assured Rev Beadle that he wasn’t coming to a “rural backwater”: local farmers were rearing lamb for export to France and beef that would end as far away as China; the people of Donagheady and Donemana were warm and welcoming, he said.

The Roman Catholic Parish Priest, Fr Eamon McDevitt, said there were a lot of positive things happening in the village, and he invited the new Rector to come to the local Men’s Shed to see the great work that was being done there to tackle mental ill health.

The Methodist minister, Rev Marlene Skuce, assured the new incumbent that there was also great craic to be had in Donemana. There was healing power in Dennet Valley, she said, a real sense of community and a real sense of joy.

The Rector’s Churchwarden, Freddie Brown, said they had known within 10 minutes of meeting him that Rev Richard was the right person for Donagheady. “At times I thought, ‘Didn’t we nominators do well?’ Then I thought to myself, ‘No we didn’t. God knew many years ago that Richard would be sitting there tonight, and we were just the messengers.’”Rev Beadle thanked the clergy from other Churches for attending his institution, as well as those former parishioners of his who had travelled all the way to Donemana for the service. The new rector said he would be building on the work of the 14 previous rectors of Donagheady, “each one bringing different skills and different gifts, in different times and different circumstances, each seeking to serve God and the people here. And my prayer is that I’ll be able to follow that line, seeking to serve God and you, and I would ask you to pray for me as I will seek to pray for you.”