The historic Victorian Parish Church of St Thomas, Lisburn Road, Belfast, will be officially reopened on Friday September 19.
Among those taking part in the Service of Thanksgiving are the Most Reverend Alan Harper, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland and the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy.
The special service follows an extensive year-long restoration.
Designed and built in 1870 by the leading Belfast architectural practice, Lanyon, Lynn & Lanyon, the church has seen vast changes during the restoration.
The stone work and stained glass windows have been cleaned and an attractive new floor has been laid throughout the church. A lighting designer was enlisted and the result is a striking array of lights which are cleverly placed all over the building to accent the spectacular stone work and vaulted ceiling.
Canon Walter Lewis, rector, said: “St Thomas is now a truly beautiful, inspirational and attractive building – a shining example of the very best that can be achieved in the work of restoration and re-ordering. The work carried out has tremendously enhanced this exquisite building for use in the 21st Century.”
More than 40 clergy from across Ireland and further afield will gather on Friday to mark this special occasion. The service will be conducted by Canon Lewis and the Bishop of Connor. Archbishop Harper will preach the sermon. Also officiating will be the Bishop of Down and Dromore and the Bishop of Clogher, the Bishop of Linköping in Connor’s link diocese in Sweden, and former Bishops of Limerick and Down and Dromore. The church will welcome a host of distinguished guests from across Northern Ireland.
This will be the first in a regular series of events planned for the next nine months in the church. Between now and June 2009, St Thomas will host more than 40 special celebratory services and events, on top the normal weekly worship services.
These will include services with distinguished preachers, family services with students and teachers from local schools and universities, and a series of concerts featuring many well known choirs and ensembles from across the country.
St Thomas will also host a series of ‘clinic’ seminar evenings, with leading experts speaking and offering advice on key issues which affect us all in modern-day society such as parenting, stress and health.
St Thomas’ parish is proud to be a welcoming church to everyone, often opening its doors to groups representing other religions and cultural backgrounds. The church makes itself available as a place of worship for the Romanian Orthodox Community in Belfast and the Church of Sweden Community in Belfast. It has a long-established relationship with the Belfast Islamic Centre in South Belfast. Located in the heart of Belfast’s University Quarter, St Thomas is also pleased to have a good link with students living and studying in the area.
Canon Lewis welcomes everyone to attend any or all of our events this year. “I am fully confident that your experience here will be deeply moving, enjoyable and memorable,” he said.