The congregation of Birr Methodist Church celebrated the appointment of a new minister with a service of welcome on Sunday evening.
Rev. Nigel Gill, who has been appointed to look after the Methodist Churches in Birr, Athlone and Tullamore, along with wife Vicky and their family, were warmly welcomed by the congregation at a moving ceremony in Birr Methodist Church.
The preacher was Rev. Andrew J. Dougherty, the Superintendent of the Southern District while Nigel’s arrival will see Rev Clodagh Yambasu moving to Mountmellick with churches in Portlaoise and Athy, now under her care.
Nigel, himself originally from Killeigh, now lives in Cloneygowan with his wife and their four children, Joshua, Jessica, Wilda and Dhruv. On Sunday last, he said he was “absolutely delighted” with his recent appointment and during the welcome ceremony, he took the opportunity to thank several family groups including the wider church and community, the Methodist circuit, his work colleagues and employers Heffernan Tyres, his friends, his extended family, his parents and his own family for their “love and support down through the years as he prepared to become a minister”.
Thanking the wider church and community, Rev. Gill said “like any family, I am aware that as I am the new kid on the block so to speak that means in time, I may fall into one of three categories. The brother you always wanted, the annoying little brother you wish was anywhere else on the planet but here, or the black sheep of the family,” he jokingly outlined.
Nigel went onto extend a thank you to the Circuit. “I am no stranger to you all as you have journeyed with me through the process over the last number of years to this point. So, I wish to thank you for the vote of confidence you have placed in me after each time, the stationing committee sat regarding my placement there was no change.”
Moving onto his former employees, Heffernan’s Tyres where he worked for sixteen and half years, the reverend thanked Thomas and Linda for enabling him to study and continue to work to provide for his family. “You journeyed through our joys and tribulations over those years and I am grateful to God for the wisdom and advice and tuition you have given me regarding management and people skills in business. Now let’s see if we can apply them to the Church.”
He also mentioned a “subset” of Heffernan’s Tyres and they were the ladies in the office, Ann, Mary, Fidelma and Rose. He fondly recalled a debate breaking out in the office about now that Nigel would have to wear a collar what was going to happen to his Winnie Pooh ties? However, a solution was found and Nigel showed off a beautiful waistcoat and pocketchief, adorned with Winnie Pooh. “I would like to sincerely thank them for their support,” he added.
The fifth group mentioned by Nigel were his personal friends, who have “journeyed with them as a family”. He mentioned in particular Pari, who predicted this day many years ago before he ever became involved in the Methodist Church. “Brother, your words have come true so we wouldn’t have to take you outside and stone you as a false prophet,” he remarked.
Nigel also mentioned John and Deirdre Ryan along with George, who studied to be a local preacher with him along with Rodney, who was their tutor. He then thanked his extended families for their love and support down through the years. He recalled how his aunt Olive, who was in attendance, predicted he would be the next preacher in the family. “I don’t know what she saw back then but today we see the fulfilment of her words,” he enthused.
“But, she wasn’t alone, my auntie Marie also tells a story of me preaching when I was five. But that’s her story to tell. A few months back, we were chatting and her words were ‘it was always meant to be’.”
The reverend then thanked his parents for “the grounding” they gave him in the things of God, a love of the scriptures, an example of a praying life and proof that God answers prayers. “We have been very blessed,” he added.
Looking towards his family, Nigel deeply thanked his wife, Vicky and their four children. “There are heroes in every story and these are the true heroes. People have asked how do I work, study, do Church services and continuously live the dream. The answer is choose your wife carefully!
“Those who really made the sacrifice is them. The only reason I am in a position as a minister of the Methodist Church and on this circuit and this welcoming service is taking place is because of them,” Nigel continued before asking the congregation to give his family a standing ovation for the “hard yards” they put in to make his dream a reality.
“I am done now. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your welcome and may the Lord bless us richly as we endeavour to reach our communities, our counties, our country and beyond with the trust of his Gospel, for his Glory through Jesus Christ.”
Earlier in the ceremony, members of the circuit and ecumenical representatives, civic leaders, and other appropriate persons were given the opportunity to welcome Rev. Gill. Archdeacon Wayne Carney, from the Church of Ireland, welcomed Rev. Gill to Birr and looked forward to working with him in the future. Gerry Dolan, on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church, extended his welcome and wished Nigel well on his journey. Their sentiments were also shared by other local preachers and members of neighbouring circuits in North Tipperary.
Bringing the welcome ceremony to a close, Rev. Dougherty thanked everyone for coming along and invited them to supper to mark the occasion.