On the first day in Ireland as Savanah and I took the taxi from the bus station to our café, we were surprised to see a “United Methodist and Presbyterian Church.” We have seen many United Methodist Churches in the States; we have seen many Presbyterian Churches in the states, but we have never seen one with the two combined. Instantly this sparked our curiosity, and we have wanted to attend this church ever since. With a guest speaker at the church we have been going to weekly, we took this week as the time to visit the “United Methodist and Presbyterian Church.”
We were the first to arrive and the pastor (currently an interim Presbyterian minister) welcomed us and talked for a few minutes. A lady in the congregation brought us three different books (a hymnal, a praise song book, and a Bible). Soon, another man arrived, opened the organ, and hit a button that played pre-recorded hymns. Savanah and I joked how if we closed our eyes, the sound of the organ reminded us of our younger days in the United Methodist Church—and, more recently, our times in chapel at Asbury. There were a few numbers up front on the “Today’s Hymns” board. I opened up the books to those pages and was super excited to sing “This is My Father’s World” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Unfortunately and hilariously, those songs were never sung, and as far as we know, those numbers have been up there since the 1960’s (or at least it looked that way).
The service began with an immigrant from Africa and her daughter leading the singing, which quickly changed the atmosphere from Hughes Auditorium at Asbury to a village in Africa. We sang seven or so praise songs, some we knew some we didn’t, but all with an African twist to them. Though similar in parts to what we are used to, we found ourselves trying not to giggle at the small things that made it so vastly different, and as Savanah always says, “not bad, just different.”
The thing I took most from the service was the pastor’s servant heart. His example as a servant of the Lord’s was encouraging and inspiring to see. The church didn’t seem to be the most thriving church, and it had a lot of holes, which the pastor filled so well. One second he was helping lead worship (as the only instrumentalist) on the guitar, and the next moment he would switch to the piano. He led the prayer time; he gave the children’s sermon; he did the announcements, gave the message, led the closing song, and cleaned up at the end. He was up one second, down the next, going behind curtains, chairs, and instruments looking for stuff he hid from the children for the children sermon (that he himself couldn’t find). After church we came to find out that he doesn’t even live in Galway and isn’t the full time pastor but just filling in while they find the replacement. Savanah and I are thankful to have servants of God like him ministering to the people of Galway.