Faith Matters

'Mined in the shadow of death, but glowing with the light and hope of Christ'

The Rev Liz McElhinney, who died in June this year. An event to celebrate her life will be held in Lurgan next week

A CELEBRATORY evening of poetry and music in recognition of the life of Church of Ireland minister the Reverend Liz McElhinney will be held in Lurgan next week.

The event in Shankill Parish Church will feature readings of a selection of her poems by the internationally acclaimed actor Ian McElhinney, as well as musical contributions from the cross-community Lurgan Musical Society, Shankill Parish Choir, soloist Nicola Brown and traditional Irish musicians led by Sean Hanily from Dublin.

Mrs McElhinney died in June this year, aged 71, after living with the degenerative condition Motor Neurone Disease for two years.

As a former Church of Ireland minister, teacher and social worker, Mrs McElhinney was widely loved and known across many walks of life.

When she was diagnosed with MND, she chose to focus her creative abilities on writing reflective and inspirational poems over a period of 15 months.

These poems will form the core of the concert; 20 of them have been gathered together in a book entitled Solid Joys, Lasting Treasure, complemented by beautiful illustrations by her artist son, David.

The collection draws its title from an 18th century hymn by John Newton, Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken.

Liz McElhinney's poems have been described by author and editor Lynda Neilands as "gems.

"Mined and crafted in the valley of the shadow of death, they glow with the light of Christ, the hope of heaven and appreciation of all that is true and lovely on earth," she said.

In his preface to the collection, another of her sons, the Rev Stephen McElhinney, says: "My mother's special ability was to notice; she had a unique ability to connect with people but also to notice the world in which she lived, which left her invigorated physically, mentally and spiritually."

The evening will be compered by Bishop Ken Clarke, who is well known in the Church of Ireland and beyond.

A friend of Liz McElhinney since their university days, he was Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh for 12 years and has been heavily involved in mission throughout his ministry.

The Rev McElhinney was a curate in Magheralin from 1997 until 2001 before continuing her ministry in Calry in the diocese of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh.

She returned to the diocese of Down and Dromore in 2007, taking on the role of pastoral support for clergy and their spouses until 2012.

She then returned to the diocese of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh to serve in parochial ministry in Roscommon from 2013 to 2015.

:: Solid Joys, Lasting Treasure: Celebratory Evening of Poetry and Music in Memory of Liz McElhinney takes place in Shankill Parish Church in Lurgan on Friday November 10 at 8pm.

An admission charge of £10 includes a copy of a booklet of the Rev McElhinney's collection of poetry, Solid Joys, Lasting Treasure.

A CD of the poems, read by Ian McElhinney, will also be on sale on the evening.

All proceeds will support the work of the Motor Neurone Disease Association of Northern Ireland.

For more information, search for 'Solid Joys, Lasting Treasure' on Facebook.

ENDS

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