In a statement, Rev Trevor Gribben, said, “Like many across our community we have been monitoring closely the continuing and evolving daily situation in relation to the COVID-19 emergency.
“It is, therefore, with heartfelt sadness that the Moderator and I wrote to our ministers across Ireland yesterday informing them that all congregational organisations and activities, including Sunday worship, should cease until further notice.
“The decision that we have taken, and the advice that we have given our ministers and Kirk Sessions, is in light of evolving government guidance both in the United Kingdom and in the Republic of Ireland. Similar advice has been issued by the General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Ireland and the Church of Ireland.
“Without doubt we live in deeply uncertain and unprecedented times, with almost every day bringing challenging bulletins and new announcements. While it is only natural that we feel a sense of unease and anxiety, we put our trust in God who can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. As we read in Isaiah, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10.)
“While we have taken this decision until further notice, we have also encouraged congregations to find creative and virtual ways to worship, and we will support them in that. At the same time, I know that where they can, our congregations will continue to support those in need, going that extra mile, quietly and compassionately in the name of Jesus, during this time of difficulty.
“As a Church, scattered throughout communities across Ireland, we continue to pray that all would know and feel God’s love and his close presence at this time. We pray for all affected by this virus, especially for those suffering or recovering from it, for the vulnerable and the self-isolating and for those who mourn. For our health service and care workers across this land, those in the frontline, and those in authority, we pray for wisdom, as we continue to put our hope and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ."
The joint letter followed a pastoral letter from the Moderator to all ministers, which was sent on Monday. You can read Dr Henry's letter here.