CEF Training


Jonathan and June Graham hosted a 10 week CEF Teaching Children Effectively course and after a lot of hard work, study, homework and presentations, 17 of our leaders were successful in gaining their certificate.  We are especially proud that six of those who completed the course are part of our own youth fellowship.  The in-depth course covered many topics including doctrines, preparation, scripture memorisation and visual communication in teaching.  The training has been of great benefit to all our leaders and volunteers. 


On Sunday 10th February, we had a service of thanks for our Children’s Church leaders and children at Ardess.  Jonathan Graham was our speaker at this service and he spoke about the importance of God first in our lives in an entertaining service which spoke to both young and old.  He presented the CEF Certificates to the leaders:  Rosie Beare, Megan Bogle, Lauren Booth, Diane Booth, Esther Boyle, Anna Bryson, Alan Crawford, Nicky Gormley, Fiona Harvey, Ayla Johnston, Glenn Johnston, Pamela Likely, Shirley-Anne McCann, Ben McGloin, Shevonne Nagel, Amanda Robinson, Nia Robinson and Zoe Osborne (not able to make church).  


We are very thankful for the Lord’s blessing upon our children’s ministry and look forward to seeing it develop further.


PHOTO - (back row, left to right) Jonathan Graham, June Graham, Reverend Philip Bryson, Alan Crawford, Fiona Harvey, Ben McGloin, Diane Booth, Shirley-Anne McCann, Glenn Johnston, (middle row, left to right) Anna Bryson, Pamela Likely, Amanda Robinson, (front row, left to right)  Canon Henry Blair, Nia Robinson, Nicky Gormley, Shevonne Nagel, Rosie Beare, Ayla Johnston, Esther Boyle, Lauren Booth and Megan Bogle.


Canon Henry


After 12½ amazing and blessed years in the parish, my time in Ardess is drawing to a close.  We came as a family of six (with 4 smallish boys) to Ardess in 2006; however, we really leave Ardess being just two (myself and Helen), our sons have all grown up, left school and joined the world of work.  You will see from the photograph of 2006 compared to that of 2011 and 2018, that there has been quite a difference in the physical appearance of my family (and its growth!), but the natural growth that is to be expected in life means girlfriends and wives now stand beside the boys.  Not only have I been reflecting on the change within my own family but that of the Ardess parishioners’ families who I have been blessed to minister to throughout the years. 


As these memories come back, I am reminded that not only do we physically change (in the dynamics of our family life (and our looks!)) but spiritually we change.  It has been amazing to see people come to the realisation of the need for a personal relationship with God and to see them really living for God.  I pray that they will continue their walk with Him and extend God’s kingdom.  God is faithful and we give Him the glory for these blessings!  


However, it is painful to see those who have slid away from their relationship with God.  Those who have lost their connection with Him and have went with the flow for the ‘easy option’ to live in the world where anything goes.  Living in the world but not being part of the world can sometimes make the life of a Christian difficult as the world’s view is not God’s view.  Take a moment now (perhaps reading the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13)) and look back at your own spiritual journey - are you walking more closely with God now than you were 12 years ago, or have you grown closer for a time and then grown away again? 


People will look back over the last 12 years to see the practical things that have been achieved within Ardess which have been significant (and I pray that the church will now be set up for many years with regular ongoing maintenance).  The practical things are a necessity and we get on and do them but what makes the last 12 years worthwhile for myself, as a minister, is the difference that has been made for the kingdom of God - the differences that we see in the people, the family of the church.  If I have encouraged one person to go deeper in their faith and draw closer to God my ministry at Ardess has been a success.  As Paul said to see someone ‘running the race’ of life for God, makes it all worthwhile and the spiritual fruit will only be truly visible when we are in heaven.


Photo 1:  2006, Canon Henry & family when they joined Ardess Parish Church 




Photo 2:  Photograph 2: 2011 Canon Henry, wife Helen & sons with Bishop Michael Jackson at Service of Institution



Photo 3:  2018

Back Row:  Canon Henry Blair and his sons Rodney, Keith, Nathan & Jason

Front Row:  Helen Blair, Judith Blair, Anna Millar, Hannah Mullan, Sarah McAlpine


Christmas Dinner

We had 21 for Christmas dinner this year.  We started off with a non alcoholic mulled wine as everyone gathered together and got to know each other.  At 12.15pm Violet O’Riordan opened with grace and gave thanks to God for the food and fellowship which we where about to enjoy.  Soup was served, crackers pulled, party hats on and a few jokes told.  This was then followed with the traditional turkey and ham Christmas dinner. Giving time for the dinner to settle, with Paddy O’Riordan on the guitar we all sang Christmas carols which was then followed by Christmas pudding or pavlova. After when tea and coffee was served Paddy did requests with a few Johnny Cash hits being preformed.  Special mention to Karen, Liam and Grainne McMulkin for their hard work helping with serving and doing the dishes and also to Rhonda Archer’s mum for the wonderful pavlovas (and not forgetting to mention Glenn & Valerie Johnston and family for their input every year!)




Messy Christmas
We enjoyed another Messy Church with a seasonal, Christmassy theme.  This was reflected in the Christmas crafts and decorations, the music and movie along with the carols and Christmas food.  We thought about the Nativity story, not as a nice and clean children’s story but as an account of real life hardship with stable smells and dirt and spiders and of God making Himself uncomfortable to be Emmanuel, God with us.  After our time of crafts and then celebration we sat down and enjoyed a Christmas Buffet together.


Christmas Parties

Ardess Little Lambs held their Christmas party on Monday 17th December 2018 and had great fun singing Christmas songs and playing games to music.  We had extra party food for everyone and the real Christmas story colouring-in/activity sheets for each child to bring home to their older siblings and a Christmas card too. 


Our Connect group finished for Christmas with a very relaxed, chilled night of food and games whilst our Blaze Youth Club and Flame Youth Club joined together for a Christmas Party of fun, food, games and music finishing with a Karaoke competition and prizes.  On 22nd December, we held a fun-filled Children’s Church Christmas party with food and games and also a surprise visit from Santa Claus with a selection box for each child. 

Prayer Room

The Meeting Room 2 in The Fountain Centre got a make-over just in time for Christmas.  We were delighted that our new teenage girls’ Life Group were instrumental in the vision for this room to be transformed into ‘The Prayer Room’.  The room has been transformed to a room of peace and tranquility dedicated to taking time out to spend with God.


Christmas Services

We started off our Christmas carol services on 16th December ‘18 with an afternoon of singing at Mullaghfarne and hearing the Christmas message.  Every child from the Children’s Church took part in the wonderful Children’s Church Carol Service, on Sunday 23rd December. They presented a very entertaining ‘The Nativity Story’ with many of the children dressing up together.  The children were not the only ones who got into the Christmas spirit of dressing up , with leaders playing the part of the angel, donkey and Bethlehem people (much to the amusement of the children!).  It was great to see so many children and young people playing their part in sharing the Christmas story.  Later than evening, we had our Carols by Candlelight service which was very much enjoyed.


Christmas Eve marked our first Christmas communion where we came together to worship God and partake in midnight communion.  On Christmas morning, families came together (and children brought along their presents to show us what they had received) to worship God and reflect on the greatest present of all time, that is the gift of Jesus Christ and all he done for us through his life, death and resurrection. 



Men's Night - 18/12/18

On Tuesday the 18th December, we had our annual men’s Christmas party at The Fountain Centre.  We were joined by a few men from Donegal Church of Ireland.  We started the night of with a few nibbles and then split ourselves into three teams (Angels, Shepherds and Wise Men) for our version of “I’m a celebrity”.  We had  various challenges consisting of general knowledge and sports quizzes, blind food test, bow and arrow skills, basketball shoot out and a bible verse emoji puzzle.  Each team was tasked with picking the best person in their team to win the specific type of challenge as the two losing teams had to eat the bush tucker!!  We had a wonderful array of treats for the bush tucker:  honey flavoured chocolate, Jacobs cream crickets, Ant Bessy’s cheesecake, scorpions on chilli white chocolate, morth worms on Philadelphia cheese and mealworm trifle.  We finished off this very entertaining evening with a delicious selection of food from the local Chinese and some show and tell.



Pre-Marriage Course

The Pre-Marriage Course was run over five weeks in October 2018 with five couples who are intending to get married in 2019.  This excellent course, comprising of short video clips and private discussions between the couples, took place in a romantic setting with tables for two set with candles and flowers.  Delicious meals were served with main course followed by dessert and tea/coffee and mints. The evenings were casual and light-hearted but dealt with important issues that need to be considered before entering into the serious promises and obligations of marriage.  This course is thoroughly recommended for all who are considering marriage in the future. 



From the 27th November to the 2nd December 2018 we had a wonderful week of mission in the parish.  It was great to have Archbishop Ben Kwashi of Jos Province in Nigeria as our special speaker for the week.  The week was a wonderful time of encouragement for all who were there and many responded to the call to come forward and receive prayer each evening.  During the week the Archbishop spoke of his experiences in faith over his life and was laying down the challenge for us to think about how we serve God and live out our faith as an example to others.  


On the Friday night, we had a service for the youth.  We had a fabulous worship band and Archbishop Ben was an enthusiastic speaker who enthralled the children with his stories of growing up in Africa.  The fellowship was amazing and we finished the evening with party food.