Special service for presentation of Black Santa Sitout funds

Tuesday February 3rd 2009

The Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, and the Rev Canon Neil Cutcliffe, rector of Mossley, take their turn during the Black Santa Sitout.Monies raised from the Christmas 2008 Black Santa Sitout at St Anne’s, Cathedral, Belfast, will be presented on February 8.

Representatives and supporters of 170 local charities and community groups have been invited to the cathedral for the annual “Good Samaritans’ Service” at which they will receive donations from the annual sitout. The Black Santa team, headed by the Dean, Very Rev Houston McKelvey, remained outside the cathedral with a collecting barrel from December 17 until Christmas Eve.

Commenting on the service Dean McKelvey said: “The title of the service is inspired by the main window behind the altar in the cathedral which shows the parable of the Good Samaritan. The window came from the old Parish Church of St Anne which stood on the site of the cathedral.

“The people who will be receiving the cheques represent the Good Samaritans of Northern Ireland who work with children, youth, the elderly, the homeless and community groups together with a range of medical charities and support groups.”

The Dean went on: “Once again thanks to the generosity of individuals, schools, churches, and businesses we will be distributing almost a quarter of a million pounds. We have already donated £23,000 to Christian Aid for its work with refugees, the hungry and development projects. Cancer research and cancer related charities will receive over £20,000 because this is the prime source of suffering which we encounter in our parish ministries.

“Thanks to earmarked collections taken at various services in the cathedral during the year we are enabled to give enhanced support this year to specific causes like the Alzheimer’s Society and Marie Curie Cancer Care.”

Dean McKelvey said it was ‘quite a challenge’ to read all the applications for assistance. “I do so because we take very seriously the fact that we are distributing finance which others have entrusted to us,” he said. “We also try to get a balance of distribution geographically and that is quite a challenge. There certainly is no shortage of good causes.

“But I hope above all else that the volunteers who work with the various groups feel affirmed in their various areas of service by the generosity of their neighbours.”

This year the presentation of cheques will be made by three members of the cathedral’s lay team of volunteers which counts the daily donations to the Sitout. They are Margaret Bunting, Helen Alexander and Campbell Murray. The service begins at 3.30pm.

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