Northern Ireland's longest-serving deaconess retires after more than 30 years at Ballymena Presbyterian church
The longest-serving deaconess in Northern Ireland has retired after more than three decades.
Phyllis Linton has stepped down at West Presbyterian Church in Ballymena.
She is the longest serving deaconess in a Protestant church here.
Mrs Linton, who is originally from Newry, began serving the Christian community in 1988.
Before taking up her position she worked as a civil servant in Stormont for eight years.
A gathering was held to give thanks to Phyllis and the contributions she has made throughout her service.
The evening was described as warm and emotional, with Rev Daniel Kane of West Church Ballymena and close friends and colleges attending.
As a gift for her contribution, she was presented a cheque for a substantial amount.
When asked about her retirement, Phyllis said: "It excites me because I feel that this is just a new chapter in my life.
"I will miss the day to day things of ministry, particularly visiting people at home and in hospital.
"Those relationships are very special and precious."
Giving particular thanks to Rev Kane, she said: "Daniel has been the best boss any deaconess could ever have. He is a great man of vision but more than anything he enables staff to grow."
She also paid tribute to her husband David, saying: "The best thing that ever happened in my life was marrying David. He has become a real partner, not only as my husband but in the ministry as well."