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Presbyterian assembly is cancelled in Ireland because of coronavirus pandemic

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Rev Trevor Gribben

Rev Trevor Gribben

Rev Trevor Gribben

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has cancelled its annual general assembly for the first time in 180 years over coronavirus restrictions.

A special virtual meeting of the general assembly, the church's supreme governing body, unanimously voted to cancel due to the "exceptional circumstances" caused by the global pandemic.

The central fixture in the Church's calendar had been set for June 1 in Belfast, but it's hoped it can take place this autumn.

Rev Trevor Gribben, clerk of the general Assembly and general secretary of the PCI, said: "The general assembly is the PCI family coming together and meeting collectively to discuss and decide matters that are central to the life, mission and direction of the denomination, something that has become part of the rhythm of our Church life since 1840. Yet, unprecedented times often call for unprecedented responses to provide for a measure of certainty and continuity."

Rev Gribben praised the "wonderfully pragmatic" approach to social distancing measures from congregations across Ireland.

"Like many organisations trying to navigate their way through this crisis, it is important that we find ways to make the decisions that need to be taken.

"We need to ensure that we keep within Government guidance, with the emphasis on the health and well-being of colleagues, and in the spirit of our long-standing commitment to openness and accountability as a Church."

At the 2019 general assembly, the Church voted overwhelmingly to uphold a controversial decision to cut ceremonial ties with the Presbyterian Church in Scotland. This was due to a more liberal stance on same-sex issues in the Scottish Church.

Belfast Telegraph