Sylvia Santos Bryce has recently joined West Presbyterian Church in Ballymena as the congregation’s new Deaconess, writes Joe Boyd of ‘The Church Page’.
Born in Brazil, Sylvia is married to John, and the couple have a two-year-old daughter called Chloe Elisa.
Revealing a little about her background, Sylvia told The Church Page:
“As a young child, I attended mass regularly with my mother. My grandmother came from a protestant background, and she has played a huge role in helping me deepen my faith and love for Jesus. Despite being unable to read or write, my grandmother memorized Bible stories and hymns, and she used to sing them to us all the time.”
“When I was nine years of age, I attended a Summer Club at the local Baptist Church in Goiania- Brazil, for the first time, and I became a Christian that day. I felt God’s love very strongly that day, and I wanted that to last for a long time.”
A desire to learn the English language brought Sylvia to the island of Ireland in 2007. Initially, she had planned to stay for only a year. However, she enjoyed life on the Emerald Isle so much that, after a brief trip home, Sylvia decided to return to these shores.
She added: “When I came to Ireland, I looked for a Baptist Church but could not find it in Sligo. However, I came across Sligo Presbyterian Church, where I felt very welcomed, and it was there that I first heard about the Deaconess work in the PCI. The Minister’s wife was very supportive of Deaconess work within the Presbyterian Church, and that is how I came to know about it.”
Sylvia trained at Union Theological College before taking her first appointment at Groomsport Presbyterian Church, near Bangor.
“Groomsport is a great place”, smiles Sylvia. “It was a lovely place to be. I enjoyed working in Groomsport Presbyterian church and getting to know people. I have gained good experiences while working there.”
Talking about what prompted the move to West Presbyterian Church in Ballymena, Sylvia went on to say:
“I live in Ballyclare, so when the post came up at West Church, I was very much drawn to it as it is closer to home, and it is a part-time pastoral role. I have a two-year-old daughter, and this is a great opportunity for me to spend more time with her. I felt encouraged to knock on the door and see what happens.”
Sylvia’s duties at West Church will involve the provision of Pastoral Care.
Her first impressions of the Ballymoney Road fellowship have been very positive indeed:
Says Sylvia: “It has been wonderful; I feel at home already. My induction service was lovely. The music team sang beautifully, and everyone made me feel very welcome. Rev Daniel Kane’s message was very encouraging at the end. As the service concluded, I said to my husband: “I feel I have arrived at my destination.” That is how I have felt since I came to West Church. People have been really kind and welcoming there.”
“I am looking forward to getting to know people well and journeying alongside them. There is a lot to be done, but I am taking my time, and I want to allow God to guide me with everything I do in my new role in West Church Ballymena.” Sylvia explained.
Outside Church life, Sylvia’s hobbies include painting landscapes, making things and spending time in the garden.