Mrs Phyllis Linton has retired after more than three decades as Deaconess at West Presbyterian Church in Ballymena.
Her lengthy service, which is something of a record in church circles, began in September 1988 when her move into ‘full-time’ Christian service was made after an eight-year career working as a Civil Servant at Stormont.
Phyllis can recall many highlights from the years that followed with the Ballymoney Road fellowship.
She said: “I think the main ones have been leading people to the Lord and there have been lots of those over the years. The joy of seeing people come to know the Lord as their Saviour has been the biggest highlight. The second thing has been watching people grow in their faith and use their gifts for the Lord as well as seeing how amazing they become under God’s transformation”.
Phyllis is keen to acknowledge the role that her husband, David has played in her life and work.
She said: “He was already a member of the congregation although it took me a while to find him! I must say the best thing that ever happened in my life was marrying David. He has become a real partner not only as my husband but in the ministry as well and I really couldn’t have done this job without his support over the years.”
Phyllis admitted that she will miss the ‘fantastic’ staff team at West Church.
She said: “I will miss the day to day things of ministry, particularly visiting people at home and in hospital. Those relationships are very special and precious. People make life what it is so often through the relationships you build with them. It is a privilege to be part of people’s lives and to have them trust you enough to share their inner-most thoughts and confidences.
“I would love to thank all of the congregation who have made me part of the family at West. They have given me such joy and a peace in my work every day as I spend time with them.”
The retiring Deaconess had particularly warm words for Rev. Daniel Kane, who has led the Ministry Team at West Church for 19 years.
She said: “Daniel has been the best boss any Deaconess could ever have. He is a great man of vision but more than anything he enables staff to grow in their faith and to use the God-given gifts with which they have been supplied. He sets you free to do ministry.”