Easter Day is a significant and important date in the Christian calendar. All
over the world Christians unite on that day to celebrate the resurrection of
Jesus Christ from the dead. Easter Day 2000 has added significance for our
church in Connor Diocese in particular. On the 23rd April Holy
Trinity Church will gain parochial status. The new parish will be known as
Holy Trinity, Woodburn. At a time when the media is full of stories of
church decline here is a church which is doing the opposite.
Holy Trinity first opened its doors on the 6th December 1992. St. Nicholas’ Church, one of the oldest parish churches in all Ireland, built Holy Trinity on land bequeathed by the late Miss Henly of Prospect House.
A small number of families were asked to leave St. Nicholas’ and go to form the nucleus of the new congregation. In the intervening years the congregation has steadily grown to a situation today where between 230 and 270 regularly worship together on Sunday mornings. This is the second time that St Nicholas’ has planted a church in the Carrickfergus area. The first church plant being St. Colmans, Kilroot.
So why is Holy Trinity bucking the trend of declining attendance? We believe the answer to that is very simple. Firstly, the people consistently and persistently pray for the ministry, the organisations and the families of Holy Trinity. Twice a year we have a night of prayer when we pray for everything and everyone at the church. Secondly, the preaching of the Word of God is central to the life of Holy Trinity. The ministry is a Word centred ministry. The Bible and biblical principles are brought to bear on every situation within the life of the church. People are called to come to a personal commitment to Christ Jesus and to live each day for Him. Thirdly, the worship of God is real and relevant to the people. When people come to worship on a Sunday morning we want them to know that they have met with the living God. We want them to experience the love of God in Christ Jesus and so want in their hearts to meet with Him. This does not mean shallow emotionalism, nor does it mean that we abandon traditional Anglican worship. Our worship follows the BCP 2004 services of morning prayer and holy communion. We sing both old and new hymns and worship songs. Yes, we do have a praise group but they lead worship only one morning and one evening a month. The other Sunday’s we are led by a traditional church organ and choir. We never seek to be modern or trendy just for the sake of it. We are here to worship Almighty God and only the best of the old and the new is acceptable. Fourthly, people are made to feel welcome and accepted. That may seem like a very simple thing to say but it is so vital to the growth of a church. When new people come to Holy Trinity they are made to feel welcome. They will be introduced to others within the congregation. If they have children they will be introduced to the BB or GB leader and to the relevant Sunday School teacher. They will also be given a tour of the building and shown where everything is. We also stress to our people that no one has the right to a seat in church, not even the minister. That way we avoid that dreadful situation of a visitor being afraid to sit down in case they have taken someone’s seat.
We realise that in the providence of God this is a time of great blessing for Holy Trinity. We thank Him for that blessing. We also want to share that blessing with the wider church community and especially with the rest of the Church of Ireland. We decided to send these details t the Gazette, not to boast, but hopefully to encourage others. The media has not got it all right. The Church of Ireland is growing here and elsewhere. When we are faithful God blesses us. It may not always be numerically but it certainly will be spiritually. So be encouraged - God’s church is not in decline.
Finally we would like to thank the clergy, the Select Vestry and the parishioners of St. Nicholas’, Carrickfergus, for fulfilling a God given vision to plant Holy Trinity. We are grateful to our mother church for all its love, support and prayers. We look forward to the future and for God’s continued blessing. To Him alone be the praise and glory.