The Rev Dr Peter Mercer, non-stipendiary minister of Broomhedge and Magheragall Methodist Churches, retires at the end of this month.
Previously minister of Mossley and Greencastle Churches, Dr Mercer succeeded the Rev Ed McDade at Broomhedge and Magheragall in August, 2009, assisted by retired minister, the Rev Dr Edmund Mawhinney.
As of next month, the Rev Mervyn Ewing will take charge of Magheragall in addition to his duties as minister of Seymour Street Methodist Church and the Rev David Turtle will add Broomhedge Methodist Church to his ministerial duties at Trinity Methodist Church.
Dr Mawhinney will continue to assist at both churches.
In an interview with ‘The Light’ (the magazine of the Lisburn and Dromore Methodist Circuit) Dr Mercer said he would look back on his time at both Broomhedge and Magheragall churches as having been “very positive and rewarding”.He added: “Fond memories from Broomhedge will be of the many special country services such as Harvest and Carols by Candlelight which Broomhedge always seems to do particularly well, followed by great suppers in the hall.
“There has also been enthusiastic support for days out as a church, with bus runs to Donegal and Newcastle and train trips to Londonderry and Dublin, all helping to improve the fellowship.
“The Broomhedge Youth Club led by Maudie Boal is well supported by the community.
“Magheragall has a very active Focus Group, which pre-dates me, that has been looking at ways of increasing the spiritual life of the church.
“It has done a number of things such as well-attended breakfasts with speakers including Baroness May Blood and Lord Robin Eames; mornings of reflection with leaders such as Heather Morris and Bishop Harold Miller and a Lay witness weekend which was probably the main highlight of my time.”
Dr Mercer said he would miss the school assemblies in Meadow Bridge and Ballycarrickmaddy, where he was always well received and had “by far my biggest and most enthusiastic congregations”.
His wife Hazel - President of the joint MWI for six years - he thanked for her “very practical support”.
Looking ahead to his retirement, he said: “As grandparents five times over, with a sixth on the way, we have plenty to keep our lives busy and fulfilled going forward.
“Fortunately we don’t need to move house from Drumbo and I can also pursue my interests in photography and fiddling with computers and other things electronic.
“I would like to continue with some pastoral work and preaching post-retirement, but I have promised Hazel that I will take a complete three-month break from the end of June.
“I will also continue as an editor of the Methodist Newsletter.”