Churches in south Belfast came together in a service of inter church worship on Sunday June 21 in Fitzroy Presbyterian Church, on the theme ‘I was a stranger…’
The Rev Wilfred Orr, Minister of Newtownbreda Presbyterian Church, was one of the organisers. “The service will help Christian people to express solidarity with the stranger in our midst as well as sorrow and shame at the racist attacks that have taken place on our community,” he said in advance of the 7pm service.
Giving the address was former Presbyterian Moderator Dr Ken Newell while representatives of the Church of Ireland, Methodist, Roman Catholic and City Church also took part. Belfast’s Lord Mayor. Belfast City Councillor Naomi Long and other public and representative figures attended.
Mr Orr said: “After the dreadful events that have taken place on the streets of our community we hope this service will strike a positive note, both celebrating the rich Biblical heritage of making a place for the foreigner and articulating our care and compassion for all who are part of our local community.”
The Church of Ireland Bishops of Connor and of Down & Dromore, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy and the Rt Rev Harold Miller were unable to attend the services. But in a statement issued before it they said: “It is important we stand together as a Christian city to reject racism in words and deeds and show solidarity with the stranger in our midst as Christ would have us do.
“We want people of every race and nation to know that they are welcome among us, as people from this place have been welcomed all round the world. It is vital to work across the community to ensure their protection at this time.”