A small group of Christians from Clonmel Baptist began a work in Limerick as a church plant in 2013 to establish a Reformed church under the name of Grace Reformed Baptist. The work was going well until 2019 when unexpectedly the teaching elder decided to move on. This left the church without suitable leadership. Additional challenges included the lock downs in 2020 which hindered efforts to find help. There was some encouragement when they were joined by a few from a Presbyterian group which closed down in 2021. However, the situation continued to be very discouraging and uncertain for their future. They reached out to other churches for assistance but without success.

Having some Presbyterians in their number and hearing that the Reformed Presbyterian Church had a desire to plant churches in the South of Ireland, they reached out for their help in early 2022. As a result, from September 2022, ministers preaching during the vacancy in our Galway congregation at the time then travelled on to take an evening service at the meeting place in Castletroy, Limerick. This led on to further discussions and eventually a call was made out to Vincent McDonnell to be a mission worker and church planter which he accepted in June 2023.

The new group took the name ‘Solas Church Limerick’ to identify to some extent with the Irish people with Irish word ‘solas’ but especially because of the theological significance of the term. Solas is the Irish word for ’light’ and is in the name to provide a simple evangelistic opportunity to point people to Jesus who is the Light of the World who came into the world in order to rescue those who are in darkness. SOLAS is also the term used to highlight five important Bible truths of the Reformation known as the Five Solas: Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), Solus Christus (Christ Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), Sola Fide (Faith Alone) and Soli Deo Gloria (to God’s Glory Alone).

After weekly travelling from Belfast to Limerick between June and the end of August, accommodation was eventually found for the McDonnells in Murroe, a small village about ten minutes drive from the rented meeting place in Castletroy which is close to the University of Limerick and is just a further ten minutes drive into the city centre.

There is a core group of 18 people including children which can reach 25 at times with irregular attenders and visitors. The majority of those attending Solas Church are Brazilians, some who have lived in Ireland since 2008 while others have only arrived within the past year. There is one local Limerick man, four from the North including one student who attends a local college. A young family based an hour’s journey away have recently been attending. We have Presbyterians, Baptists and Roman Catholic families in regular attendance. There have been visitors from Brazil, Australia, Scotland and England over the past few months, as well as some who have come along from other RP churches to encourage us.

In November 2023 midweeks began in two homes, one in Ennis, Co. Clare and the other near Moneygall, Co. Offaly. In December evangelistic books were distributed in The Orchard, the housing estate next to the meeting place.

You can keep up to date with the work of Solas Church Limerick on Facebook and their YouTube Channel.

This article report was originally written for the Messenger Magazine, check them out for more thought provoking articles, helpful book reviews and more!

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