Congratulations to Revd Stephen Doherty who has been ordained presbyter for Glen Community Church.
Stephen was ordained by Bishop David along with Revd Rory Blake-Knox at an historic outdoor service at Nendrum Monastic Site. The preacher was Revd Paul Cowley MBE.
I was raised in a small fishing village, Portavogie, on the Ards Peninsula, Co Down where I grew up in a non-Christian family, although my mum was a regular worshipper in the local Church of Ireland. My mum always took me along with her (whilst my three younger brothers were never “made” go to church!).
Being raised within a small, close-knit congregation as with Ballyeasboro (the local Church of Ireland) helped me realise the importance of having and growing in a relationship with God, and this was complimented by my attendance at afternoon Sunday School in the local Free Presbyterian Church which grounded me further in deeper bible study and knowledge.
I came to faith in my early teens as I continued to grow in my faithful relationship with Jesus and it was when I turned 18, when my Rector, Canon Frank Bell, spoke to me about joining the Fellowship of Vocation, journeying towards ordination. He even took me to two of the classes, but I wasn’t feeling it one bit.
Not only did I turn away from the church, I had my personal “Jonah” moment, when obviously God was calling in the direction of ordination, but I wanted to go my own direction in life.
During this time, I met my wife, Gemma, who already had a faithful relationship with God, and we married on 2 October 1993. Some 27 years later, we have been blessed with 3 young lads (Bayley-22, Matthew-18 and James-16) and a dog, Biscuit!
When Gemma and I moved to Newtownards, we began looking for a church in which to settle, and we found ourselves in St Mark’s Church of Ireland.
In hindsight, on looking back, I see that God was planning for this moment of ordination with me having numerous jobs particularly working with socially excluded young people, alternative education programme, behaviour management in schools…super grounding in the work I am currently serving in through the Church Plant.
It was whilst employed at an Alternative Education Project in Belfast that I saw a job advert for a Youth Worker within St Mark’s. I applied, and I was employed. I have been part of St Mark’s team for almost 16 years now, moving from being a Youth Worker to a Church Plant Leader serving in a local housing estate in the parish, The Glen estate.
The estate consists of some 500 households and is one of the highest small pockets of deprivation in Northern Ireland. Unemployment, paramilitary activity, drug abuse (prescription and illegal), underachievement very low self-belief are the main causes of concern. Mental ill health has become one of the most developed difficulty in our community, with quite a number of suicides in the last number of years we have been serving in the estate. This led me to set up a self-help group in the town – Ards Suicide Awareness Group.
My personal mantra (and one which our church family in the Glen has adopted) stems from 2 Peter 3:18. These words were adapted to create a prayer we close our gatherings within the Glen…
“Let us grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
To Him be glory, both now and forever. Amen.”