Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Church leader returns to arson scene

PRESBYTERIAN Moderator Dr Russell Birney has preached at the morning service of Whitehouse Presbyterian Church in north Belfast which was badly damaged by arson just over two weeks ago.

PRESBYTERIAN Moderator Dr Russell Birney has preached at the morning service of Whitehouse Presbyterian Church in north Belfast which was badly damaged by arson just over two weeks ago.

Speaking yesterday to the congregation, meeting in the church hall which is currently used for worship while the church is re-built, Dr Birney extended the good wishes of the entire Presbyterian Church.

He said: "I bring you the heartfelt sympathy of the whole Church, and the support of all Presbyterians throughout the length and breadth of this land."

Dr Birney was one of the first people to visit Whitehouse only hours after the fire destroyed the main church building in the early hours of August 2.

He said: "I remember standing in the car park and surveying the wreckage, and also looking at the horror on the faces of members of the congregation.

"I say to you today, however, that adversity binds people together, and through his experience you will form even closer friendships and fellowship.

"You will face days of activity and of anxiety as you make decisions about the future, but I urge you to make sure that God is driving your decision-making and that He is pointing your way forward."

Dr Birney promised, on the morning of the fire, to visit Whitehouse as soon as possible, and although he returned late on Saturday from Italy he was determined to honour his commitment.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "It meant a lot to me personally to be there, not just in an official capacity but also as a minister and a pastor.

"I was privileged to share with the congregation and, having seen the devastation on the morning of the fire, it was very important that I was able to make the journey back."

The church's minister, the Rev Elizabeth Hughes, said: "The visit of the Moderator meant a lot to people, not only on the day of the fire but also his return visit. His presence helped to affirm to the congregation the support and good wishes of the entire Presbyterian Church."

A substantial cheque was donated by the neighbouring Greencastle Methodist Church, with whom Whitehouse has regular fellowship, and an anonymous cheque for £1,000 was donated in the past week.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz