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Archdeacon David Huss gets on his bike for socially distanced ministry around the parish

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Church of Ireland cleric David Huss on his bicycle

Church of Ireland cleric David Huss on his bicycle

Church of Ireland cleric David Huss on his bicycle

A Church of Ireland cleric has got back in the saddle for the first leg in a series of socially distanced parish visits.

Archdeacon David Huss, who is originally from Lisburn, took to the roads of south Donegal on his bicycle this week and will keep up the pace for as long as needed.

Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, the 44-year-old has not seen many of his flock in his Donegal group of parishes since the last services were held in churches on March 15.

However, he has been able to keep in touch with them via phone and video calls, alongside online worship.

He is now encouraging them to come to their doors and say hello from a distance of at least two metres.

That also means he will not be accepting any cups of tea or entering any houses on his rounds.

"I was missing seeing people face-to-face," he explained.

"We're now permitted to do 'outdoor' get-togethers as long as we're not in groups of more than four, so the idea came: why not do it by bike?"

Archdeacon Huss said his GP wife Beverly had a hand in his two-wheeled ministry.

"The actual idea of going out on the bike was probably hers, so she's very pleased to see me breaking away from my sedentary lifestyle and getting exercise," he added.

Day one of his visits around his parishes of Donegal Town, Killymard, Lough Eske and Laghey took place on Wednesday, which coincidentally was World Bicycle Day.

"I'll be setting off each day at about 2pm and finishing who-knows-when," he said.

"From next week I'll crank it up to longer distances; there are a few hills in the parish but I'm spreading it over several days, so I should be fine."

The father-of-three is at pains to point out that he will be observing social distancing at all times while on his travels.

"I hope to wave to people, stop at the gate, say hello, hopefully say a quick prayer.

"I won't go into people's houses or accept cups of tea, not until I'm permitted to do so, and that won't be for the foreseeable future.

"Physical distancing doesn't mean spiritual distancing, though, so it's important to keep in pastoral contact.

"Doing it by bike is a great way of doing it, it's good for my health and fitness, and it may create a bit more interest."

Belfast Telegraph