Bangor welcomes new sculpture of Amy Carmichael
A bronze sculpture of Amy Carmichael, the famous missionary who established the Dohnavur Fellowship in India, was unveiled on Saturday (16th December) at a private ceremony at Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church in Bangor.
Amy was born on 16th December 1867 in Millisle County Down and later moved to Japan and then India to serve as a missionary. In 1901 she set up the Dohnavur Fellowship to provide a safe home for young girls and the organisation still exists today providing care and education for around 120 children as well as 60 senior citizens. Those that grew up in Dohnavur stay on to look after the next generation so there are currently between 250 and 300 people in the family, as they like to refer to the residents.
The compassion Amy had for the Indian children meant that she never returned to Northern Ireland again and died in India on 18th January 1951.
Bangor Worldwide Missionary Convention has a strong link with Dohnavur Fellowship and donations were sent from as early as the 1940s.
The idea for the sculpture came from conversations that started years ago between the evangelist Derek Bingham and artist Ross Wilson to recognise Amy’s life and Christian witness. Ross explains, “The sculpture celebrates the childhood beginnings and the spiritual inspiration that helped inform Amy’s young heart. It portrays Amy in the tenth year of her life looking out from below her hat towards a purposed future that would be filled with devotion to others, a serving life, a giving heart that would impact generations of children to come.
“For me as a sculptor I found the process of translating the life of one of my Christian heroes a profound experience, visually reshaping a life, it’s personality and identity is a deep responsibility.
“Part of this sculpture’s narrative is the importance of a positive influence on young lives. In times of continuing confusion we must encourage our children to have positive dreams that will help inform a positive future.
“In the sculpture Amy is holding her diary where she recorded her dreams, her hopes, her future. Because of Amy Carmichael’s vision countless children were given the hope of a new beginning, were given a future.”
Tom Clarke, Chairman of Bangor Worldwide and clerk of session in Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church, said, “We were delighted to find out that Hamilton Road was chosen as the venue for this new sculpture to recognise Amy Carmichael. The church has held our Convention meetings for over 80 years and celebrates and supports global mission each August with a weeklong Convention.
“Amy was and still is an inspiration to those who want to serve God in other parts of the world. Her tireless obedience to God’s call remains as new generations read her writings and the work that continues through the Dohnavur Fellowship today.
“We hope that the many children and people who see the sculpture will be challenged by Amy’s story and selfless sacrifice to travel and live and die in a foreign land, all in service to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The private unveiling ceremony took place on Saturday afternoon (16th December) in the small garden at the front of the Church’s Welcome Centre on Hamilton Road. The unveiling was performed by Margaret Bingham, wife of the late Derek Bingham.
A special Celebration service was held in the church on Sunday evening (17th December) and featured a newly written script by Etta Halliday presenting Amy’s life through music and words. Jonathan Clarke, the current pastor of the Welcome Evangelical Church which the Carmichael family had strong links with, was the guest speaker. Although only in her late teens, Amy was instrumental in founding the original Welcome which was primarily for mill girls who found ordinary churches a challenge.
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