Leading light in Belfast mission Margaret Ferguson dies aged 61
Tributes have been paid to a senior member of the East Belfast Mission.
Reverend Margaret Ferguson (61), who was its superintendent, passed away on Monday at the Marie Curie centre.
The East Belfast Mission, which is part of the Methodist Church in Ireland, said it was hugely saddened by her death.
Andrew Irvine, its chief operations officer, said: "It was with great sadness that the congregation, directors, staff and volunteers of East Belfast Mission learned of Margaret's passing.
"The loss of our superintendent is a huge loss for us and our thoughts and prayers are with Margaret's family at this time."
Rev Ferguson answered the call to the religious life in 1998 after working as a school teacher and a businesswoman. She was a former president of the Holywood Chamber of Commerce.
Her work with children and young people transcended into her life as a minister and many of the projects she held close to her heart involved young people.
Prior to her role with the East Belfast Mission, Mrs Ferguson served for eight years on the Shankill Road, where she focused on making disciples and encouraged the church to engage with the community.
Trained in pastoral supervision, Rev Ferguson had also served on the Methodist Team of Mission, the Presbyterian Church young adult volunteer programme and a placement supervisor for ministerial students from Edgehill College. She was also committed to ecumenism.
Among those who expressed sadness at her passing was Fr Martin Magill, administrator of Ballyclare and Ballygowan Parish, who worked with Rev Ferguson on inter-faith projects.
Fr Magill said: "I was sad to hear of Margaret's passing, she was a woman of deep, deep faith who cared passionately about people and particularly about young families.
"She and I worked together on the Back to Church Sunday project when she was with the Woodvale and Shankhill Methodist Church.
"Margaret had a real interest in people and a real love for people, she was very keen to see them flourish."
Sinn Fein MLA for South Belfast Mairtin O Muilleoir also expressed his sadness.
He said he was "devastated" to hear of her death, adding that she was "a peerless ambassador for Belfast and for a compassionate and loving faith".
The funeral will take place in Mountpottinger Methodist Church tomorrow at 11am.
Her husband David and the couple's three daughters, Heather, Ruth and Clare, will lead mourners.
From there the cortege will make its way to the East Belfast Mission.
Her remains will be in repose in the sanctuary of the mission from 1pm to 3pm, where the family will be available to meet anyone who was unable to attend the earlier church service.