“CHRISTIANS should engage positively yet critically with political and social issues”.
This was the core idea of a stimulating address given by the Presbyterian Moderator, Rt Rev Dr Norman Hamilton OBE, to packed Ballycastle coffee shop Thyme & Co. He was the first special guest in a series of Community Forums organised by Ballycastle Church Action, the joint initiative of the three main Ballycastle churches.
Dr Hamilton also urged church members to “show compassion and care towards those elected to political office”, recognising that they are people seeking to serve the community.
He added “Such leaders should not be merely criticised or ignored.”
Among the sixty plus audience were students from Ballycastle High School and Cross and Passion College.
A broad range of questions were addressed such as the continuing challenge of sectarianism, the Westminster Confession, ecumenical worship and Presbyterian Mutual Society. Dr Hamilton challenged the tendancy at election time for people to simply vote along traditional ‘tribal’ lines. He said we should vote on policies and be prepared to support those who offered those policies most likely to build an inclusive and cohesive society.
The event, chaired by Mrs Maeve Walsh, Chairperson of Ballycastle Church Action, began with a musical item by a choir drawn from the two schools and ended with a light supper. Rev Dr Gordan Gray, Convenor of BCA’s Peace and Reconciliation Committee introduced Dr Hamilton and chaired the discussion.
The next Forum in the series, which is being run under the headline Faith In The Public Square, will be this Wednesday 27th April at Thyme and Co., 6 Quay Road, Ballycastle. It will be a conversation with the Rev Dr Harold Good OBE, one of the most distinguished Irish Church leaders, long prominent in social care and peacemaking circles.
Dr Gordan Gray said,”These Forums are open to everyone of any religious persuasion or none. They are designed to enable the public to engage personally with prominent figures in our community around the theme of peacebuilding in real terms.”
Funded under Peace 111 these events, including supper, are free to all.