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Coronavirus: Streamed services from Northern Ireland churches prove very popular with worshippers

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Rev Andrew Forster

Rev Andrew Forster

Rev Trevor Gribben

Rev Trevor Gribben

Fr Martin Magill

Fr Martin Magill

Rev Tony Davidson

Rev Tony Davidson

Rev Andrew Forster

The main churches in Northern Ireland have reported that their streamed services yesterday went well, with a good take-up on Facebook and social media.

Rev Mark Harvey, rector of the Church of Ireland's Shankill parish in Lurgan, streamed a live service lasting 45 minutes.

He said: "One of the purposes was to give hope and encouragement to people who may have their own fears, anxieties and doubts at this time, and also to speak to those whose faith may be reawakening.

"We had a good feedback with over 400 reactions online during the service, and this had risen to 1,500 by late afternoon."

Also taking part were music director Carl McCambley, Nigel Myers of the worship team and Joy Stevenson, a pastoral support worker. The rector also transmits a live message from his study each evening at 9.30pm.

He said: "It is providing something regular and familiar to people in these uncertain times."

The new Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, the Rt Rev Andrew Forster, streamed a live message to the diocese from his study.

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Rev Andrew Forster

Rev Andrew Forster

Rev Andrew Forster

"I felt it was important to speak to parishioners but I felt very nervous talking to a camera, far more nervous than I would in front of a congregation. Lots of clergy were using social media today so why should I be any different?" he said.

Rev Trevor Gribben, Clerk of the Presbyterian General Assembly, said: "While I don't know how many thousands watched streamed services yesterday, I hope our people were encouraged as God's grace and comfort was known.

"As our Moderator said on Friday, worship is not cancelled, it has simply been happening in a different way."

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Rev Trevor Gribben

Rev Trevor Gribben

Rev Trevor Gribben

Rev Tony Davidson, minister of First Armagh Presbyterian Church, streamed a 25-minute service which had been recorded on Saturday.

It included a lesson, announcements and prayers read by the Clerk of Session, Ian Kyle.

Mr Davison said: "The reaction was very positive. We are able to still be the Church in this difficult time with the help of the latest technology.

"However, one of the best forms of communication, especially for older folk, is still by telephone."

Fr Martin Magill, the parish priest of St John's in west Belfast, streamed a live mass yesterday, as he has been doing daily during the past week.

"I was speaking yesterday about the curing of the blind man in the New Testament and using this as a means of asking people to see things in a new way," he said.

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Fr Martin Magill

Fr Martin Magill

Fr Martin Magill

"There are still many beautiful things to be aware of, even in these difficult times. We had 300 reactions during yesterday's service. I was very pleased when one parishioner said that she and her husband and their teenage children had watched the whole service in their home, as had my sister and brother-in-law, and other people."

Not every church used social media. Rev Tom McKnight, the Methodist President-elect and minister of Donaghadee Methodist Church, said that they did not have the technical services to stream, and because he felt most of his parishioners did not have the social media experience for streaming, he made sure that everyone received a 'Worship at Home' sheet produced by the British Methodist Church.

However, he watched a streamed service from Mountpottinger Methodist Church, his previous posting. "They spent all week getting it ready and it was really impressive," he said.

Belfast Telegraph