Speaking on behalf of the Presbytery, following its October meeting in Belmont Presbyterian Church last night, its Moderator, Rev. Mervyn Burnside, minister of Castlereagh Presbyterian Church, said:
As people living, working and worshipping in east Belfast we wanted to take the opportunity this evening to express our prayerful solidarity with all families who have been subject to threats and intimidation.
Everyone has a right to feel safe in their own home. Acts of hatred have no place in our community and must be both condemned and eradicated. We call upon anyone with information to contact the Police Service.
It is vitally important that those affected receive the ongoing practical support that they need. As we pray and offer our support, we also urge our own members to join us, as we seek to follow Jesus’ command, “to love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:31) and by looking for additional ways to show kindness, love and support to all those with whom we share this city.
The 536 congregations of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland are grouped together into 19 regional bodies across Ireland known as presbyteries, which are representative assemblies otherwise known as 'courts of the Church'.
The East Belfast Presbytery is the largest of the 3 Belfast presbyteries and contains within its boundaries 23 congregations, which includes just under 14,400 people of all ages in 6,853 families. The Presbytery covers a swathe of the city east of the River Lagan from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Rosetta up to Castlereagh Presbyterian in the Castlereagh Hills, to Dundonald and on to Holywood, then back down Belfast Lough to Mersey Street Presbyterian Church and Westbourne Presbyterian Church on the Newtownards Road.