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Historic Derry church reopens

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The congregation at the reopening and rededication service of the First Derry Presbyterian Church

The congregation at the reopening and rededication service of the First Derry Presbyterian Church

The congregation at the reopening and rededication service of the First Derry Presbyterian Church

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness were among the hundreds who gathered for the reopening of a historic Protestant church in Londonderry.

First Derry Presbyterian Church and halls closed in 2002 due to an outbreak of dry rot, but is now open after a major £2.5m refurbishment.

With cross-community support and funding from a range of bodies, the money was found for the major nine-year project.

The building overlooking the Catholic Bogside was opened in 1780 and is believed to be on the site of an earlier Presbyterian church founded in 1690, as a reward for the bravery of the Presbyterians during the Siege of Derry in 1689. Also in the congregation were Assembly Speaker William Hay, community representatives and clergy and politicians from across the city.

Family members from both the Bloody Sunday and the Claudy bombing tragedies were also in attendance.

The Bishop of Derry, Seamus Hegarty, and his Church of Ireland counterpart, Ken Good, took part in the service. And popular singers The Priests performed for the congregation.

Rev David Latimer said when he first arrived in 1988, the church did not look welcoming.

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“Inside was dark and dismal because no natural light was getting in.

“It looks like it has never looked before.”


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