Ruth Patterson was ordained a Presbyterian Minister in 1976, becoming the first woman to be ordained in Ireland. She began her ministry at Kilmakee in Seymour Hill, a large housing estate on the outskirts of South Belfast, a largely Protestant, Loyalist, working-class area. In such a situation, where paramilitary activity and other problems exacerbated by the Troubles abounded, she saw first-hand the need for healing ad reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Arising directly out of her parish involvement, Restoration Ministries was set up in 1988, a non-denominational centre for healing and reconciliation in the Irish context and beyond, for those who have been in any way diminished or trapped or victimised in their own personal lives or through their communal history. Ruth continued to work in both the parish and the centre until 1991, when she became full-time Director of Restoration Ministries.
Ruth Patterson recounts her personal story as a back to the powerful reflections that she shares in these pages. She gives in-depth glimpses of certain stages of her journey and the accompanying enrichment of a deepening spirituality that continues to come sometimes as a gentle gift and sometimes as a treasure salvaged from the wreckage of battered trust, broken dreams and shattered vision. Her reflections, which at certain times just seemed to be there, spring from an unshakable belief that Ireland has a destiny under God that has yet to be fulfilled. That destiny centres on the call to reconciliation, and to a love that creates room enough for all. The road to such a goal is a hard one, a costly one, and often an unpopular one. The reflections in this book deal with such a call, such a challenge, with the deep conviction that one small flame is all it takes to let the darkness know it cannot win.
Ruth Patterson is a Presbyterian minister who has worked with Restoration Ministries, based in Lisburn, County Antrim, since its inception. Restoration Ministries is a non-denominational Christian organisation that seeks to promote healing and reconciliation in Ireland and further afield. It came into being in 1988, during the thirty-year conflict in Northern Ireland. Through a ministry of reconciliation, healing, hospitality and prayer it seeks to provide a place of safety where people can tell their story and be heard, where they can develop a vision, and where they can feel welcomed and loved. Other publications by Ruth Patterson include Proclaiming the Promise (2006) and Looking Back to Tomorrow (2009), both published by Veritas.