Lunchtime Christmas Carol Concert


Gospel in the City plans to host a Lunchtime Carol Service on Tuesday 20 December 2016 from 1:10-1:40pm in Urban Soul (May Street Church basement).

This will be a traditional carol service with well-known Christmas carols led my New Irish Arts and a short message from Christoph Ebbinhaus.  It is intended to be accessible to anyone who enjoys a traditional Christmas service and we hope would be perfect for a pre-Christmas office trip out!

Please note the different day and location to the usual Gospel in the City meetings Tuesday 20 December 2016 (i.e. not the usual Wednesday lunchtime) from 1:10-1:40pm in Urban Soul, May Street Church basement (i.e. not Caffe Nero).

Songs of Advent

From “Away in a Manger” to Wham!, Christmas has always been a time for singing – and that’s especially true of the first Christmas. The early pages of St. Luke’s Gospel almost read like a musical as a teenage mum and a dying man sing for joy. The songs they sang are now beloved parts of the daily liturgy in both Catholic and Protestant churches. But what was it about the first Christmas that made these people so joyful? And could the joy of that first Christmas come to our workplaces this Christmas? Join us on Wednesday lunchtimes as we explore these Advent Songs:

  • 30/11 What makes Mary special? (the Magnificat, part 1)
  • 7/12 How to put the revolution back into Christmas (the Magnificat, part 2)
  • 14/12 How to get everything you’ve ever wanted this Christmas (the Nunc Dimittis)

We will then finish off the advent season with a Gospel in the City Carol Service on Tuesday 20 December, 1:10-1:50pm in Urban Soul (May St Church). We’ll enjoy singing a few traditional carols and hear a short message from Christoph Ebbinghaus.  Could you invite your office for a pre-Christmas trip out?


Ask Google: Why does love hurt?

Every day millions of internet users ask Google life’s most difficult questions, big and small. Inspired by the Guardian series, these talks will answer some of the commonest queries.


“To love is to live fully, to have a purpose that makes life worth living” (Linda Blair). If that’s true, then why does love hurt so much? Why would God, who says that he is love, make a world where we our closest relationships are the ones that tend to cause us the most pain?

Join us on Weds 23rd November for a chance to think about these questions over lunch. Our speaker will be Stafford Carson, a former moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and current Principal of Union Theological College.

1:10-1:40pm, upstairs in Caffe Nero on Fountain St. Sandwiches available (suggested donation £3).

Read the Guardian answer here: Why does love hurt?

How to please God in our everyday lives

It’s been suggested that, give-or-take, we have 120 waking hours available each week for work, family and leisure time. If you’re a Christian, you might spend up to 10 of those hours a week at church, but probably not much more. That leaves 110 hours per week that we might call our “everyday lives”. Our time at work and our time with our families and friends.

Most Christians have a sense that we ought to be using those 110 hours to serve God, and that our worship shouldn’t just be confined to times when we’re with our church. But it’s not always obvious how we should be using that time. Sometimes God can feel pretty distant from our daily lives. Often we just need a reminder about what’s important.

So for the next couple of weeks at Gospel in the City, we’re going to be thinking about how we can please God in our everyday lives – our personal lives and our work lives. We’ll be thinking about how Christian personal relationships and attitudes to work can reflect the distinctive character of the loving God we worship.

We’re going to be looking at a couple of short sections from one of the Apostle Paul’s first letters, to a group of Christians in the city of Thessalonica in Greece. After a very short visit, a number of the Thessalonians have become Christians. But Paul had barely begun to take them through the basics of the Christian life before he’s forced to leave the city because of opposition to his message. So Paul writes to tell them how, since they’ve “turned from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for his Son from heaven”¹, they can now live to please God.

If you’re not a Christian we think this will be a good chance to see what kind of God we worship by seeing the sort of life he wants us to have. A chance to see things from the inside, so to speak. And if you’re a Christian, we hope you’ll be encouraged and equipped to live to please God in your everyday life.

9th Nov: How to please God in our personal lives (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8)

16th Nov: How to please God in our working lives (1 Thessalonians 4:9-13)

Lee Campbell, who serves as pastor of Strandtown Baptist Church in Belfast, will be helping us think through these passages.

Wednesday lunchtimes, 1:10-1:40pm, upstairs in Caffe Nero on Fountain Street (1 min from City Hall). Sandwiches available (suggested donation: £3).

¹ 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10


Speaking with Authority


Some people, and some messages, seem to command a hearing. For most of the last two thousand years, in most of the world, Jesus and his message of the good news of God have created just such a response. The gospel writer Mark tells us that at the beginning of his public ministry Jesus went into Galilee saying “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

In the crowded religious marketplace of 1st century Palestine, Jesus was immediately recognised as a uniquely authoritative voice. Since then few people have felt able to ignore Jesus’ message. But perhaps in Belfast today we find it harder to understand exactly why the people who first heard Jesus asked themselves, “What is this? A new teaching with authority!” (Mark 1:22)

In this series of four lunchtime Bible readings in the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel, we’re aiming to go back to those heady early days of Jesus’ ministry and see for ourselves what it was that made Jesus and his gospel so compelling.

12th Oct  The Voice of God (Mark 1:1-11)

19th Oct  A top line summary of the entire Bible (Mark 1:12-15)

26th Oct  Listen to the boss! (Mark 1:16-34)

2nd Nov  Words of life (Mark 1:35-45)


Sam Bostock (Gospel in the City)

Moore Casement (Cornhill Training Course, Belfast)

Martyn Cowan (Union Theological College, Belfast)

Join us upstairs in Caffe Nero on Fountain St (1 min from City Hall), 1:10-1:40pm, for lunch, a reading from Mark’s Gospel and a short talk. Sandwiches are available (suggested donation £3).


Ask Google: Am I a good person?

Every day millions of internet users ask Google life’s most difficult questions, big and small. Inspired by the Guardian series, these talks will answer some of the commonest queries.

Am I a good person? However you look at it, the Bible’s answer to this question has been very influential. But what exactly is the Bible’s answer?

On Wednesday 5th Oct, Christoph Ebbinghaus will be helping us think about the Bible’s answer to the question Am I a good person? Join us for a talk and an opportunity to ask questions upstairs in Caffe Nero on Fountain St, 1:10-1:40pm. Sandwiches available (suggested donation £3).

As the Guardian’s answer concluded: “The only certain thing about this question is that if you’ve never thought to ask it, the answer has to be “no”.”

Christoph Ebbinghaus has been serving as the the minister of Kirkpatrick Memorial Presbyterian Church for the last twelve years. Before entering full-time ministry, he trained as an accountant in Belfast.

What on earth are we doing?


What on earth are we doing? It’s a question any thinking person asks themselves from time to time. It’s a question that we can often find ourselves asking about our working lives. And it’s also a question we’re bound to be asking as the Gospel in the City network begins its life. What on earth are we doing?

Those are questions that the Bible can help us with. In our first talk series at Gospel in the City we’re going to be looking the answers Jesus Christ gives in John’s Gospel. In chapter 15 Jesus is spending his final evening with his closest followers before his arrest and execution. Facing life without their leader, Jesus’ friends are asking exactly this question: what on earth are we doing?

Jesus comforts his friends by giving them an image that would become famous: of a vine and its branches. As we seek to understand what Jesus meant, we’ll explore what it means to live fruitful lives and how all of that might apply to our working lives in Belfast.

Hope you can join us!

  • 21st Sept – What on earth are we doing being Christians?
  • 28th Sept – What on earth are we doing at work?

Wednesday lunchtimes, 1:10-1:40pm, upstairs in Caffè Nero, Fountain Street. Sandwiches available (suggested donation £3).

Image adapted from MarkDoliner on Flickr, by permission.