A Service of Re–opening and Rededication was held in Lisburn Cathedral on Sunday December 2.
The preacher at the special service was the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy who dedicated the building. The lovely warm cathedral was full to capacity, and guests and parishioners were welcomed by the rector, the Rev Canon Sam Wright.
Lisburn Ladies Harmony Choir performed two sets during the service, adding to the atmosphere of thanksgiving and celebration.
The historic building in the heart of the city has been subject to a series of renovation and refurbishment works in recent years. Phase one of the works to the Cathedral building were completed some two years ago and involved exterior work including repointing, repairs to the spire replacement of the weather vane, repair of the east facing stained glass window and partial replacement of the roof.
The phase two works were all internal and included rewiring, new lighting, new seating, a coffee area, new audio visual provision, carpeting and redecoration.
These were completed last week and the building re–opened for use on the day of the rededication.
Reaching this point has been a long road through years of census, questionnaires, audit, vision presentations, debates and consultations, before a final report from CREED Ireland.
Canon Wright said: “The Select Vestry have provided immense leadership and vision, in particular the Glebewardens, Paul Duggan and John Humes. The experts on the sound and vision team – Martin Lester, Des Henry and David Lamont, have put in hundreds of hours creating first class visuals and sound.
“The works have been supervised on a daily basis by Des Cairns (Architect) and the end result is a fitting tribute to his skill and attention to detail.”
Canon Wright continued: “The main contractor Annvale Construction Ltd have been professional and courteous as they have carried out the very detailed work in the Cathedral.”
The total cost of both the exterior and interior renovation phases of the building works was £800,000.
“In addition to this new church heating has been installed, the chapter room/toilets/choir room renovated, and in the cathedral hall a new kitchen has been installed,” Canon Wright said.
“As there were problems with the defective electrical installation and numerous issues with regard to the internal finishes and Health & Safety problems the vestry decided not only to work hard at restoration and solving of the apparent problems but also to allow the building to be flexible and able to be used in different ways, which would allow more people to come in, feel welcome and comfortable, and to experience God and be part of a church family.
“Like all historic Buildings the cathedral has great cultural significance, it embodies a great many things to many people, the aim was to carry out the work in such a way as to enhance the heritage elements and yet provide modern safe and adaptable facilities.”
Guests arriving on Sunday afternoon approached the church through the main door into a welcoming bright new oak and glass porch. New lighting has been installed and the stairwell decorated. The doors into the nave have been refurbished and upgraded for fire safety, and the new coffee area has a newly sanded and polished floor. The coffee making facilities are to the right, an area with fridge, dishwasher, boiler and coffee machine.
A new planar glass screen provides subtle separation from this area to the main part of the nave. Careful consideration has been made to install these items without damaging the historic elements.
In the main part of the newly carpeted nave, the new sound, vision and lighting control desk is located just inside the glass screen.
This allows full control of all the systems, including the new video cameras which will assist all those on the gallery and to the sides to have a good view of proceedings and well as providing sound and vision to the Church Hall. The gallery has large plasma screens at high level.
The new chairs are a rich red and clip together to form a continuous seat, or stacked depending on the type of service or event. The kneelers and chapter seats have been recovered in the new upholstery.
New slim projection screens are placed on either side the Chancel, opening up a clear view of the magnificent East Window.
“With a new fire alarm, new emergency lighting, and upgraded doors the refurbished building will be a much safer and brighter place to have services and other events,” added Canon Wright.
During Sunday’s service, and Act of Commissioning was held for mission teams to serve in Lisburn and in Yei Diocese, South Sudan.
John O’Neill, Karen Webb, Amy Webb and Aimee Jess were commissioned to work as a Church Army Mission Team with Lisburn Cathedral. Alan Abernethy, Karen Bushby, Judith Cairns, Frank Dobbs, Stephen Forde, David Gough, Andrew Sweeney and Sam Wright were commissioned to work as a Church Mission Society Ireland Mission Team in partnership with the Diocese of Yei, South Sudan.
Members of both teams were presented for commissioning by Rev Simon Genoe (Curate) and commissioned by the Dean of Connor, the Very Rev John Bond.
The Mayor of Lisburn Alderman William Leathem congratulated the Select Vestry and all involved in the work of restoration and also commended the musical contributions by the Cathedral Choir and Lisburn Ladies Harmony Choir.
The Vision verse given to the Cathedral is Jeremiah 27:9 “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
In a further step to open wide the doors to the community on Monday December 3 the Cathedral was again packed for the reopening concert featuring The Leading Ladies.
After a magnificent evening of fine music and fun Canon Wright said: “We were so blessed to have been able to have musicians and singers of such a high calibre to perform on this historic occasion for the reopening. Our curate, Simon Genoe, also performed with his band and they too were a roaring success.
“I want to say a big thank you to all who have made this such a memorable and delightful few days.”