N. Ireland church comes west, ‘serves’ Farragut

The Rev. Ronnie Agnew, left, pastor of First Broughshane Presbyterian Church in Northern Ireland and his team worked on landscaping at Farragut Primary School during their recent trip to Farragut.
For the sixth year, Christ Covenant Church P.C.A. and the Rev. Ronnie Agnew, pastor of First Broughshane Presbyterian Church in Northern Ireland, have collaborated on a ministry: Agnew brought a 10-member team from the village of Broughshane to serve the Farragut and West Knox County communities.

Between Thursday, July 25, and Monday, Aug. 5, the team worked on landscaping at Farragut Primary School and ministered at Knox Area Rescue Ministries’ downtown and West Knoxville stores. Team members built a ramp for Operation Backyard, hosted a Special Needs Families picnic and held an AMACHI kickball tournament.

They also cleaned and prepared classrooms at Wesley House and provided food for FPS students in need through Compassion Ministries.

“They were busy and accomplished much,” said Teresa Pratt, Christ Covenant director of media and design. “There were tears on both sides (when the team left).

“It’s just sad to see them go,” she added. “I’d like for them to come back next year.”

“It’s like we’re coming to our second home,” Agnew said about the team’s latest trip to Farragut. “We’ve made good friends over the years.”

The collaboration between the two churches has been a “partnership in the gospel of Jesus Christ, where we come together with our various talents and personalities to work together to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior and show his love to those who are in need in our communities,” Agnew said.

Led by Agnew and his wife, Tracey, the team consisted of young people ranging in ages from Agnew’s 10-year-old twins, Jacob and Joy, to the oldest, a 22-year-old woman.

“Our hope was when the members of our team go home, they have a deeper understanding of God, a deeper understanding of the mission of the church and a greater sense of their role in fulfilling that mission,” Agnew said.

“I suppose it is good to bring our young people to experience personally a different culture,” he added. “While we speak a similar language, we are very different in our outlook in life and our lifestyle in general.

“It’s also good for us to experience a Presbyterian church in a different culture. We believe the same things about the Bible, but we do things in a different way.”

The trip also allowed team members to be involved in practical ministry, which he said, “We may not do at home.”

Agnew noted their trip has been positive.

“Everyone has been challenged by the situations they encountered,” he said.

The ministry started in 2012, when a team from Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, went to First Monaghan Presbyterian Church in County Monaghan, where Agnew was then pastor, to start a vacation Bible school.

“That opened up new avenues of ministry with Christ Covenant,” he said.

A year later, a team from Christ Covenant Church visited the Monaghan church.

“It was at that point we discussed bringing a team here to Knox (County),” he said, adding that first trip to Farragut took place in 2014.

“We’ve been going back and forth ever since,” Pratt said.

Agnew returned with a team from the Monaghan in 2016, and then he moved from Monaghan Presbyterian Church to First Broughshane Presbyterian Church, located in a sleepy village 30 minutes from Belfast, in 2017.