On Remembrance Sunday, the parishioners of the United Parish of Ballynure & Ballyeaston (Ballyclare) gathered outside Christ Church to plant a tree recognising the trauma that has been experienced by so many over almost two years of Covid-19.
The Rev Jonny Campbell-Smyth, rector of the United Parish, said he wanted to acknowledge the worry and grief that has been felt within the community.
“As part of this short service, I read out the names of those people within our parish who have died during the period of Covid, either directly as a result of Covid or other illnesses,” he said.
“I was stunned that in this period we have had 26 deaths. That is easily double the number of deaths we would normally experience.”
Jonny added: “ I wanted to create a space where people across our community could come in future years to recognise the impact that this pandemic has had on livelihoods – we have seen death, but we have also seen our children impacted by lockdown, increases in mental health issues, and so the list goes on.
“And yet in all of this we recognise the faithfulness of God to walk with us through our struggles. The timing of this, alongside the conclusion of COP26, seemed very appropriate to show the hope a tree can bring in a broken world.”
Jayne Henry, daughter of the late Bob Campbell who died during the pandemic at the age of 100, planted the tree.
Jonny said he has appreciated the support of other ministers across the denominations in the greater Ballyclare area who are also considering planting trees in their church grounds to mark this period of Covid.