The Vacancy

The end of June 2017 our Church was declared vacant when our minister the Rev Philip Thompson answered the call to Connor Presbyterian. In line with PCI protocol The Armagh Presbytery appointed the Very Rev. Principal J.Stafford Carson as the convenor to our congregation. He will lead and coordinate the teaching from our pulpit and support the Elders and Committee in the task of calling a new minister to Waringstown.

The View from the Pew

(Article written by Colin Neill for the Oct 17 Connect magazine)

There’s an untrue story going about: ‘Waringstown Presbyterian Church is vacant.’  What is correct is that WPC currently has no Minister: Philip Thompson moved on at the end of June to Connor Presbyterian near Ballymena. We’ll miss Philip and his family much and wish them every blessing for the future.

That means that in the language of the Presbyterian Church, the clunking label of ‘vacant’ gets attached to WPC. Language demands that some word or other is used to describe being without a Minister, but ‘vacant’ is unfortunate, given how it throws up definitions such as empty, void or having neither use or purpose.

Think of a vacant building and you’ll imagine an unused retail unit that’s dilapidated and an eyesore. Think of a vacant person and it brings to mind images of sadness: extreme old age; depression; or some experience of trauma. Who wants to be vacant?

The fantastic reality is that WPC is categorically not vacant! We’re not vacant because we have the Word of God: God breathed Scripture that guides us and inspires us and leads us into the truest understanding of ourselves and life that we can ever know.

We’re not vacant because we have in our church the Spirit of God, a real and present wind that blows the vitality and life of God into all we do as a church family.

And we’re not vacant because we have the love of God, shown to us in the remarkable sacrifice of Jesus’ life, that tells us every person is of unsurpassable worth and value to God, and inspires us to a love for one another whereby we seek to carry each other, whatever life throws at us.

WPC is between Ministers, and you can call that many things, but with God’s Word, God’s Spirit and God’s love we are never vacant.

The latest edition of our Connect magazine tells you all about WPC’s programme for this autumn. It’s our hope and prayer that you’ll read it and it will whet your appetite to want to come among us and learn something of the God we love in WPC: God who promises life in place of emptiness and fullness in place of vacancy.

Colin Neill

Colin is married to Claire and Dad to Matt and Suzy, and works for Invest NI. He’s been a member of WPC for 15 years, is a Presbyterian Accredited Preacher, and serves on the Board of Contemporary Christianity.