Through the medium of flowers the people of Lisburn reflected on the past and looked to the future as Lisburn Cathedral marked 300 years since the town was destroyed by fire.
The four-day ‘Out of the Fire’ flower festival celebrated 300 years of praise and worship since the church was razed to the ground by flames in 1707.
Welcoming visitors, the rector, the Rev Canon Sam Wright commented: “It is amazing to think that 300 years ago the spot where you are standing today was a scene of devastation after a massive fire destroyed the town and the Cathedral.
“Today we reflect on that historic event and the rebuilding of our town – which has now become the modern and thriving City of Lisburn. Since the Cathedral was rebuilt people have gathered in this beautiful building for worship and we look forward to continuing to worship Christ here until He returns. New life has come – Out of the Fire”.
The festival was officially opened by the Mayor of Lisburn Councillor James Tinsley at a service on Thursday October 25 when the speaker was The Dean of Connor, the Very Rev John Bond. On Friday, the speaker at the Celebration Service was Mrs Margaret Crawford, All Ireland President of Mothers’ Union.
At the Thanksgiving Service on Sunday morning the Bishop of Connor, the Right Rev Alan Abernethy, spoke on the theme of Thanksgiving based on his reading from Philippians 4 v 4-9.
A Praise Service on Sunday concluded the festival, and the speaker on this occasion was Mr David Gough, CMSI Mission Partner for Sudan and Egypt.
The stunning floral arrangements were masterminded by the world-renowned Rev William McMillan (Minister of First Presbyterian Church (Non Subscribing) Dunmurry) with the help of Ballymacash Flower Club. On the Saturday, Mr McMillan assisted by Heather Gibson (President of Ballymacash Flower Club), Ian McNeill (The Flower Shop, Whitehead), and Joan Lockhart (Chelsea Flower Show medal winner and owner of Fleuriste Flowers, Finaghy) presented a flower arranging demonstration to a capacity audience in the Cathedral Hall.
Funds raised are going to extensive church refurbishment work and to help the people of Yei diocese in the south of Sudan to build a new Primary School in Mongo. The people of southern Sudan are themselves just emerging from the flames of conflict.