Belfast Telegraph

Churches deliver a unified message of hope for future

By Alf McCreary

Themes of peace and hope have been stressed in the Easter messages of the main churches in Northern Ireland.

Methodist President, Rev Dr Heather Morris (below) delivered an optimistic address, saying "there are signs of hope around us".

"There are the 'quiet peacemakers', the churches who work with their communities to benefit all, and the many people committed to working for the common good," she said.

"This year again and again I have heard people talking about their desire for a peaceful, stable confident society, a desire that Government would be able to focus on education, employment and health. Those voices need to be heard."

Rev Morris also said fear should not stand in the way of peace building: "People fear that things will not get any better. Fear holds us back from even imagining, let alone working, for a better, different future."

Presbyterian Moderator, Rev Rob Craig, spoke of strengthening relationships at this time of year. "It is no accident or coincidence that it was at dawn on the first day of the week that the women made their way to the tomb of Jesus," he said.

"This weekend, across all our congregations, there will be Easter services, affording us the opportunity to reflect on the Cross of Christ and to celebrate with joy the empty grave.

"As we worship together, may the new dawn of Easter strengthen our faith, our hope and our love."

Roman Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr Noel Treanor said: "We are Easter people. As the Paschal candle burns throughout the year, it guides us with the light of the Risen Christ in our prayers, liturgies, work and charity.

"We are living at a great time in the history of the church, not only in our own diocese, but also in the universal church. Pope Francis is calling us all to a radical renewal of our understanding of the church, a 'poor church for the poor', and to a fresh sense of ourselves as missionaries sent to preach the Gospel especially on the outer edges of church and of society."

Meanwhile, the Church of Ireland Primate and Archbishop of Armagh, Rev Richard Clarke, said: "In the light of Holy Week we see injustice, fear and hatred apparently victorious, but ultimately thrown into defeat by the glory of God."

FACTFILE

e Churches of all denominations will proclaim the Easter message in services throughout Northern Ireland tomorrow.

e There will also be a large number of denominational and inter-denominational 'Sunrise Services' at various locations, starting variously between 6am and 7am., where prayers will be said and Scripture passages read.

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