Moving on from his post as minister at Irvinestown and Pettigo Methodist churches, Reverend Steven Foster has felt “privileged” to have spent time “serving” back in his home county.

Originally from Derrylin, Rev. Foster has been in Methodist ministry for 15 years, working mainly in the Republic of Ireland.

“Most of my time has been in the South, particularly Longford and Wexford. I suppose ideally I wanted to remain South and I’m going back South but I was content to come back to my home county for a couple of years but my heart remains in working in the South.”

Having spent three years as a minister in County Fermanagh, Rev. Foster is moving back to the Republic of Ireland to take up ministerial roles in Methodist churches in Tipperary.

He said: “I’m going to the North of Tipperary, to Rosscreagh, looking after a few small Methodist churches, traditional churches but with the support of the home mission department of the Methodist Church in Ireland to explore other areas of work or mission in the area. I will also be a chaplain of Gurteen Agricultural College which is a major Agricultural College owned by the Methodist Church in that area.”

“My appointment will be a mixture of the very traditional and then other newer missions,” Rev. Foster added.

Mission work has been at the core of Rev. Foster’s ministry, particularly during his time working in Longford and Wexford prior to his posts in Irvinestown and Pettigo.

“My ministry in the South in particular involved coming alongside people in marginalised settings, refugees, LGBT+ people, others who just feel side-lined in society and a particular ministry that developed for me was working with young adults, particularly the 18 to 22 year olds, many of whom just do not have a lot of the support systems that people from my background have taken for granted,” explained Rev. Foster.

He continued: “They are supposed to be adults but they desperately need older adult support and care for them to be able to thrive in life, or even get past simple decisions and in particular I have found a lot of young men at that age that have no father or strong male role model in their lives and that really beats my heart and is a major aspect of my ministry.”

Noting how he has a “real heart” for marginalised people, Rev. Foster shared: “In many ways in life I have journeyed with people who have felt excluded from society and often people who wouldn’t normally be near churches and in ways I’ve experienced marginalisation myself and so I have a great heart for people who are on the edges and because ultimately this is where Jesus was at. He met with people on the fringes that others ignored, it’s in my DNA as a Methodist, because early Methodists, this was their uniqueness, they met with people who were otherwise side-lined in society and this is where we need to be at today.”

When asked what have been the highlights of his time as the minister of Irvinestown and Pettigo Methodist churches, Rev. Foster commented: “Well definitely coming alongside people in their suffering. It just continues to be an immense privilege to share the most significant experiences of life with people and so journeying with people and when people are honest and open and don’t pretend that they have everything sorted in life, that’s what I really appreciate.”

“It’s just been a privilege to be back in my home county for a while and to reconnect with people but just to also serve in my home county as I am in ministry. Also to connect with both Irvinestown and Pettigo, to have good relationships across the community and I’m glad to have been in a setting where I have been able to engage with people and share with people from all backgrounds,” he told The Impartial Reporter.