There was a feeling of expectation in the air this week as representatives of parishes throughout the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe converged on the Diocesan Centre in Londonderry – and it wasn’t just to do with the imminent arrival of a huge pizza order from a local takeaway.
They had gathered to hear Derry and Raphoe Youth’s plans for the coming year – plans which the new DRY chairman, Rev Peter Ferguson, said would build on the foundations laid by his predecessors.
Rev Ferguson spoke about his “Kingdom excitement and expectancy” for Derry and Raphoe Youth. “In Derg and Killeter,” he said, “they have been big supporters of Derry and Raphoe Youth. We have seen the impact of Derry and Raphoe Youth on our young people. So, I want to be clear: we aren’t starting anything from scratch. We want to honour all that has gone before and the amazing foundation of things that we can be so proud of.”
Before being ordained, the DRY chairman spent a year through Crosslinks in a mission-orientated diocese in Tanzania, described his time there – in a diocese which was materially poor but spiritually rich – as “life-enriching and faith-enriching”. He recalled one piece of advice given by an African pastor who said to him, “Peter, let’s pray and see what God will do.” “I will never ever forget that,” Rev Ferguson said, “not ‘let’s pray and see what God might do’ but ‘see what God will do’.”
Rev Ferguson shared with those present – a mixture of clergy and laity, young and old – one of his favourite passages from the New Testament, Ephesians 3, 14-21. “From that passage,” he said, “there’s an expectation: an expectation to pray, to live and to work with the Lord with expectation, and to remember who God is. He’s the God of the immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine. And it’s His power that is at work within us.
“When we partner with the Lord we should have expectation. We should pray for revival and growth. We should work for revival and growth. And we should expect revival and growth. And even more so, we must look out for and walk into sure and certain signs of revival and growth.”
The DRY board’s plans for achieving revival and growth were spelled out in detail by its vice-chairman, Rev Nigel Cairns. They include a prayer month in January; training on mental health issues in young people in March; two ‘DRY Invites…’ events with the Mark Ferguson Band in Raphoe (March) and Christ Church Londonderry (September); a DRY weekend in Fermanagh in the spring; ‘On The Move’ in July; and a leaders’ encouragement evening in November next year.
The parish representatives present were excited by the proposals for 2019, and went home encouraged by what they had learned and pleasantly filled by the pizza they’d shared.