Banbridge Seventh Day Adventist Church recently welcomed a new Pastor to the congregation.
Pastor Curtis Samuel held his first Service at the church last Saturday, before a New Year Social event was held on Saturday evening to welcome him to the community.
Pastor Samuel, 31, has come to Banbridge from England, having graduated with a degree in Theology last July.
Originally from High Wycombe in the South East of England, Pastor Samuel arrived in Banbridge on January 2 for what is the beginning of what will be a big challenge.
“It has been great so far,” he commented. “The people are so friendly and very welcoming.”
Pastor Samuel, who will be in charge of churches in both Banbridge and Larne, previously visited Northern Ireland in December when he was considering the move.
He explained: “My boss, Pastor David Neal, was looking for a Pastor to come and look after these churches. I had recently graduated in July last year with a degree in Theology, so we started a dialogue and the conversations went well.”
Pastor Samuel held his first Service in the church on Saturday, where he was joined by his parents and sister who had come over especially from England.
“Saturday was my first day in Banbridge and there was a social in the evening to welcome me,” he said. “It is one thing to be in church, but to meet people on a social level allows you to get to know them.
“It went well,” he added. “They gave me a very warm welcome. My family were over at the time and they looked after me and my family very well.”
Pastor Samuel currently has a contract for a year with a view to making that two years.
The new Pastor may be getting used to a new way of life, but he is finding he is enjoying it.
“I guess it is a new way of life, but because Northern Ireland is part of the UK I recognise some of the shops and I didn’t have to change my currency. Everybody’s been so friendly, not just in the church but out on the town, people are smiling and starting conversations, you don’t get that in London.”
Looking forward to his time with the church in Banbridge, Pastor Samuel has a couple of main aims as he prepares for the challenges that lie ahead.
“I would like to concentrate on engaging with the community to see what ways we as a church can serve them and identify what needs there are and meet those needs. Secondly, I would like to reach out to young people.
“Young people are the future of the church and I would like to reach out to them. We as a church in Banbridge are a very warm church. We are a very loving church and want to be able to serve the community and show God’s love any way we can.”
Welcoming Pastor Samuel to the church, Pastor David Neal, the Irish Mission President, said: “I welcome Curtis into the missionary in Banbridge. He is from the South East of England and it is a very new move for him. I myself am from England and moved here eight years ago and it’s the best move I ever made and I hope it is the best move he ever makes. For the quality of life it is superb. Banbridge is a friendly place and I wish him a successful and happy ministry.”