Rev Louise Donald
I was baptised into the Methodist Church in Ireland, in Wesley Centenary Methodist Church, Bangor but around the age of 11 years decided that church wasn’t for me and so walked away from formal worship becoming ‘A Prodigal Daughter.’
I always believed in God and in Jesus but was to come at the age of 32 years to understand, through a revelation, a conversion experience, a lightbulb coming on…or however one wishes to term that moment as like an ‘Isaiah’s calling’ experience, in the context of moving from knowing about God, to entering into an ongoing relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, through acknowledging I was a sinner in need of salvation and by the grace of God being rescued through accepting His free gift of Jesus Christ, His one and only Son who had died on a cross for all people, to be my Saviour and Lord.
In the words from Charles Wesley’s hymn : ‘And Can It Be’ ‘My chains fell off, my heart was free,I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.’
I trained as a nurse and carried out this vocation for 30 years in various locations and areas of nursing care in Northern Ireland and London.The call to full-time ordained ministry was a great surprise to me, my family and friends and indeed one that I wrestled with, but accepting the stirrings of, as John Wesley terms it a ‘warmed heart,’ I stepped out in faith as I and other more mature Christian leaders, both ordained and lay, considered I had been led.
It was a time of testing with doors opening and other doors closing and so I found myself at 52 years of age, putting ‘away the former things’ to enter into the ‘new thing’ God was doing in and through my life, supported fully by my parents and my son Neil and a couple of my friends; being widowed at a young age. My father has since left us for glory at the age of 92 years, his presence one I miss very much, but I give thanks for the blessing of a father who gave me a loving and ‘rocklike’ sense of fatherhood to relate within the limitations of this world, to ‘Our Father in heaven…’ I also have a brother who with his wife lives in Spain and a niece and niece-in-law both in England.
So it is, with a sense of anticipation and excitement, feeling privileged and delighted to be in your beautiful city of Armagh, that I step into this new appointment to join with God’s people in the building of His Kingdom in this place, under the Lordship of Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your path.’ Proverbs 3 v 5, 6