Covid - Church services to remain suspended

22.1.2021 | Church in Society, Statements, Church Life, Public Affairs, COVID-19 Emergency

Due to the continued extremely high level of transmission of the Covid-19 virus throughout the community, which over these last four weeks has not reduced yet to the level hoped for, alongside the increasing numbers in hospital and intensive care, yesterday afternoon the Northern Ireland Executive took the unanimous decision to extend the current Covid-19 restrictions until Friday, 5 March 2021.

The Executive’s decision was based on the strong recommendation of Dr Michael McBride, the Chief Medical Officer, and Professor Ian Young, Chief Scientific Advisor. As a result of their advice, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) has decided that all of its in person Sunday gatherings for worship, along with all other in person church gatherings, should continue to remain suspended until 5 March.

Responding to the news that the current restrictions had been extended for an additional four weeks, Rev Trevor Gribben, the Clerk of the General Assembly and General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, said, “In the light of this decision, and on the basis of the unequivocal public health advice that people should continue to stay at home, the General Council Standing Committee of our Church, has directed that all in person Sunday gatherings for worship, along with all other in person church gatherings across our congregations in Northern Ireland, should remain suspended until Friday, 5 March.”

Mr Gribben said that he and the Moderator had written to all PCI congregations with this decision, the only exceptions being weddings and funerals along with arrangements for recording, or live-streaming, drive-in services and private prayer (as permitted by regulations). This same step is also being taken today by the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Church of Ireland and the Roman Catholic Church.

The Clerk of the General Assembly continued, “While we acknowledge that there is both cost and disappointment in this for many, we see this decision as part of our response to the command of Jesus to love our neighbours. We continue to encourage as many people as possible to stay at home for the sake of health, life and the Common Good.

“Ultimately, as followers of Jesus, we are people of hope. As we journey through these dark and difficult days, we live in that hope, looking to the light that we find in Jesus,” he said.


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