FOCIS (Scripture Union) enjoyed another successful year at Downshire. As in previous years a diverse programme was delivered incorporating a variety of formats and activities; visiting speakers again included Stuart Hawthorne from Woodlands Presbyterian Church, Ricky Mehaffey from Glenabbey Fellowship and others.
Throughout the year we were regularly reminded how privileged we are as we heard reports from all over the world. As a school we organised a 24 hr fast to raise funds for the building of a childrens home in Zimbabwe. Mr Alan Graham who initiated the project, visited us to share why the facility was needed and something of his vision as a missionary working with Child Evangelism Fellowship in that troubled country.
In summer ’09, our own Miss Fotheringham lead a team to Romania and shared with us the need in that country. In other meetings we heard about Christian work in Japan, Pakistan, Uganda and Indonesia, where Mrs McIlroy’s son and daughter-in-law have been working.
It is always great to have teachers from Downshire share something of their faith; Mrs Glass shared with us something of what it means for her as a teacher to be a Christian. Miss Woods has, for a number of years now, along with Mr Middleton lead worship very ably. On a special Worship Week event she reminded us of the centrality of worship in the life of a Christian. Mr Middleton, at the height of X-factor mania, used the programme and its title to focus on Jesus.
Our FOCIS weekend in October saw us try a new venue at Murlough House in Dundrum, County Down. In a beautiful setting in the middle of National Trust property, we enjoyed a fabulous weekend. Stewart Hawthorne was our visiting speaker and challenged us all to consider afresh who we follow. Despite the new venue many of the old favourites formed part of the trip – a ‘midnight’ walk around the extensive grounds and beach; a fun ‘photo shoot’ in the grounds of Dundrum Castle; assault courses and Zip lines at Greenhills Outdoor Pursuit Centre; ‘tea’ in Newcastle and a communal ‘snooze in’ DVD screening late on Saturday night.
A very special morning was enjoyed in May, when members of FOCIS lead the Family Service in Ballycarry Presbyterian Church. The theme was on the parable of the talents and in a short piece of drama titled ‘The Apprentice’ Jordan Ballentine gave a memorable portrayal of Lord Sugar. Mrs Maxwell drew the various threads of the service together in the address.
We are thankful for the support of so many teachers and pupils who assist in so many ways, not least by simply attending and look forward to next year and the opportunities it will present for FOCIS.