Members of the Grouped Parishes of Inver, Mountcharles, Killaghtee and Killybegs got a first opportunity to meet their new Curate since her ordination when Rev Lindsey Farrell was introduced formally to parishioners at a Service in St John’s Church in Inver on Tuesday evening.
The church was filled to capacity for the Service of Introduction, which was led by the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Ken Good, and attended by Church of Ireland clergy from throughout the Diocese of Raphoe, many representatives of other Christian denominations in south Donegal and local politicians. Also in the congregation were Rev Farrell’s husband, Keith, their three children and all four of the children’s grandparents.
The sermon was preached by the Rector of Drumholm, Kilbarron and Rossnowlagh, Rev Canon Brian Russell, who said it was a great delight to welcome the Farrell family “to all things south Donegal” and more particularly to the family of believers in the Inver community of parishes. “That the church people here will have a minister to love and to respect, and that Lindsey will have a people to love and serve, is very good news indeed,” he said.
While training for the ordained ministry, Rev Farrell had been on a ten-week placement in Canon Russell’s Drumholm Group of parishes. He told the congregation that she had grown up in the parish of Rossorry, in Enniskillen, where she and Keith had played a vital part in the fellowship and work among young families in Irvinestown.
“This Church life and work influenced Lindsey’s preparedness to refine and develop the skills and abilities necessary for the role of a pastor-teacher, through her studies in theology and training for ministry in Dublin – all for an unknown congregation. Tonight, and for the next while, we all know where God was making her ready for,” the preacher said.
Canon Russell, who is the Rural Dean of Tirhugh and Boylagh, said Rev Farrell’s calling to bring God’s word to others was a “privileged” one. As we had all learned last Sunday (at the Service of Ordination of Priests), everybody – preacher, reader, and listener – had been commanded to be hearers as well as doers of the word. “James writes that it is the impact of God’s word that brings to life and fruition God’s true plans and purposes in and through all who are His.”
“No doubt, Lindsey, throughout your years of service, folk will continually let you know what your ministry should be all about – some stating nicely and others not – but at the end of the day, the only someone of note you have to give account to, concerning what you sought to do, is HE who has made it known that the bible is His book, that it contains everything He wishes you to know, and that you require nothing else in order to discover how He intends you to accomplish everything He wants you to do.”
“There will come your way 1,001 laudable duties and demands in this ministry,” the preacher said, “and likely just as many a complete waste of time and energy. But first and foremost, God would have you to be a valuable student and a bible teacher.”
Canon Russell said Rev Farrell’s own spiritual health and vitality, development and stamina, and that of her congregation, would be founded on this. Her ministry would involve exampling forgiveness, giving guidance, equipping, delegating and sending, restoring the lapsed, sharing God’s love with all.
“You will minister to those who appear to have it all together, and also to those for whom it’s apparent everything is falling apart,” Canon Russell said. “Who is up for all of this? It would seem Jesus thinks you are – or rather that there’s nothing He and you together cannot handle.”
The preacher told the congregation that he had been urged by his wife to say something to encourage the new curate’s husband, Keith. “This is not it,” Canon Russell said, “but it does occur to me that you people of Inver Group have had the experience of a lady minister in your midst; but what you have not had to deal with is her husband to have to answer to. Proverbs Chapter 6 says there’s nothing to match a husband’s fury, and he will show no mercy when he comes to take his revenge. I just thought you might want to bear that in mind.”
Canon Russell told Lindsey and Keith that there was hardly anything more pleasing and wholesome than when both parties to a marriage held Jesus as their first love and readily encouraged each other in the work of God’s Kingdom, whatever shape and form that took for each. “The Lord will use you both to teach us all.”
During the Service, Rev Farrell revealed – while being interviewed by Bishop Good before the congregation – that she had first felt the call to ministry in her late teens, although she had subsequently worked in business for a period of time. “Selection was quite daunting,” she said, “quite intense, but also a time of fellowship.” She had been a keen distance runner – taking part in 10k events – but explained that her knees were “starting to go”. Bishop Good later suggested that praying was a good remedy for this.
Following the Service, those present made their way to Doorin Hall, just over half a mile away, for supper and speeches. Among those who addressed the gathering was the Rector of Rossorry, Rev Canon Dr Ian Ellis. A presentation was made to Rev Canon John Deane and his wife Heather for their work in the Inver Group during the vacancy, and the Archdeacon of Raphoe, Ven. David Huss, and Canon Russell were thanked and congratulated for organising the Service of Introduction.