Big Breakfast - Big thanks
The church's Big Breakfast 2015 was a big success. Over £1500 was raised for the Church Building Fund. Thank you to all those who "cleaned their plate" for your donation. Thank you to John Gamble (Funeral Directors, Dromore) for sponsoring the event for another year, and all our suppliers. And, of course, thank you to our very dedicated and very hard-working volunteers who made sure everything was cooked and prepared to perfection, made sure everyone was catered for and looked after, who made sure everyone "had their fill", and who made sure everything was cleaned and tidied away again afterwards.
The Church of England has said it is "disappointed and bewildered" by the refusal of leading UK cinemas to show an advert featuring the Lord's Prayer.
The Church called the decision "plain silly" and warned it could have a "chilling" effect on free speech.
It had hoped the 60-second film would be screened UK-wide before Christmas ahead of the new Star Wars film.
The agency that handles adverts for the cinemas said it could offend those of "differing faiths and no faith".
The advert features the Christian prayer being recited or sung by a variety of people.
They include refugees, a grieving son, weightlifters at a gym, a sheep farmer, a gospel choir and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby.
(Click the link above to view the advert on YouTube)
The advert was passed uncut by the British Board of Film Classification and given a "U" certificate, as well as receiving clearance from the Cinema Advertising Authority.
However, the Digital Cinema Media (DCM) agency, which handles British film advertising for the major cinema chains, Odeon, Cineworld and Vue, refused to show the advert because it believed it would risk upsetting or offending audiences.
In a statement, DCM said it had a policy of not accepting political or religious advertising content in its cinemas.
It said that "some advertisements - unintentionally or otherwise - could cause offence to those of differing political persuasions, as well as to those of differing faiths and indeed of no faith," and that "in this regard, DCM treats all political or religious beliefs equally".
The Most Reverend Justin Welby said he found the decision "extraordinary".
"This advert is about as offensive as a carol service or church service on Christmas Day," he said.
"Let the public judge for themselves rather than be censored or dictated to."
The Reverend Arun Arora, director of communications for the Church of England, said: "We find that really astonishing, disappointing and rather bewildering.
"The prospect of many families attending the release of the new Star Wars film had seemed a good opportunity to launch the advert and a new website justpray.uk to promote prayer ahead of Christmas.
"The Lord's Prayer is prayed by billions of people across the globe every day, and in this country has been part of everyday life for centuries."
'Make people think'
He added: "In one way the decision of the cinemas is just plain silly, but the fact that they have insisted upon it, makes it rather chilling in terms of limiting free speech."
He encouraged people to visit the website, watch the film and make up their own minds "as to whether they are upset or offended by it".
Stephen Slack, the Church's chief legal adviser, warned the banning of the advert could "give rise to the possibility of legal proceedings" under the Equality Act, which bans commercial organisations from refusing services on religious grounds.
The refusal to show the advert is likely to reignite a debate about the place of religion and faith in the public arena, especially Christianity, and whether freedom of expression for believers is being stifled.
One of those who took part in the ad, Ian McDowall, is a former bouncer and a weightlifter who founded a Christian charity, Tough Talk, after finding his faith.
"I don't think people know a lot about Christianity these days anyway, and the opportunity to share the Lord's Prayer in a cinema environment would make people think - and realise that Christians come in all shapes and sizes."
But Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: "The Church of England is arrogant to imagine it has an automatic right to foist its opinions upon a captive audience who have paid good money for a completely different experience.
"The Church does not hesitate to ban things that it deems inappropriate from its own church halls - things like yoga. The cinema chains are simply exercising the same right."
We give You thanks
It's a relief when the service is over!
Jordan Wilson is just 19 and is studying Natural Science at Trinity College, Dublin. On frequent breaks back home to Dromore, Jordan plays the organ for our congregation.
The young student is a talented musician and has a Diploma in Music (Piano). When he was asked to help out occasionally during church services he was happy to assist, thinking to himself, "Surely it can't be too much different to playing the piano?"
He doesn't think that any more!
Jordan finds accompanying congregational hymns stressful but recognises the great experience he is gaining and is keen to "push" himself musically. He learns with each new verse and chorus.
Yes, it is stressful. Yes, it is a relief to finish the final hymn. But Jordan is grateful for the experience and thankful for the opportunity.
The congregation is grateful and thankful too!
The Women's League monthly meeting was treated to a Flower Arranging Demonstration by Anna McVeigh, with an emphasis on arrangements suitable for Christmas at home. The League meets monthly in the Session Room and all are welcome.
Anna McVeigh in action producing her beautiful flower arrangements for Christmas
The ladies' next meeting is the annual Christmas Dinner at the Riverside Tearooms, Dromore on Tuesday, 8th December.
Our service of Remembrance was delayed slightly to allow all those who attended the Act of Remembrance at our town's War Memorial time to make their way, in the wind and rain, from Market Square to Barban Hill. The congregation stood whilst Joe Martin (Church Treasurer) and Rev Sam laid a wreath on our Table of Remembrance.
Rev Sam read from Micah 4: "They will hammer their swords into ploughs and their spears into pruning knives" and said there was as much need for all nations to have ploughs and pruning knives today as there was in Micah's days, and urged arms manufacturers to turn their production to peace. He included the poem, "In Flanders Fields".
The flowers were supplied by Joan Black and the arrangement designed by Anna McVeigh.
Inspiration for “In Flanders Fields”
During the early days of the Second Battle of Ypres a young Canadian artillery officer, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed on 2nd May, 1915 in the gun positions near Ypres. An exploding German artillery shell landed near him. He was serving in the same Canadian artillery unit as a friend of his, the Canadian military doctor and artillery commander Major John McCrae.
As the brigade doctor, John McCrae was asked to conduct the burial service for Alexis because the chaplain had been called away somewhere else on duty that evening. It is believed that later that evening, after the burial, John began the draft for his now famous poem “In Flanders Fields”.
(Source: The Great War - A Guide to WW1 Battlefields and History of the First World War)
Baptism of twins
Rev Sam Peden conducted the Baptism Service for twins Amelia Grace - with their father, David Patterson and Isabella Rose - with their mother, Christine McConaghy, at Dromore Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church on 1st November 2015. Included are the girls' God Parents James and Amy Patterson, and Jackie and Alana McConaghy.
Rev Sam presented each little girl with a bible as he conveyed to the young family our church's blessing and best wishes.
The church was packed with family and friends of the twin's parents and afterwards they enjoyed lunch at Dromore Rugby Club.