By Ann Marie Foley - 08 June, 2020
The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, has welcomed the announcement that churches can reopen for public worship from 29 June 2020.
“Today’s decision gives us the opportunity to take up the threads of faithful living in very particular ways of worship in our communities once again,” said the archbishop. “I welcome the opportunity now afforded to us under the accelerated roadmap to reopening Ireland to return to public worship in church. We embrace this opportunity joyously and hopefully.”
He cautioned that safety must be put first, but preparation is already underway to make churches as safe as possible as the pandemic restrictions are gradually removed. He appealed to people to take personal responsibility and stay at home if they feel vulnerable or unwell.
He added that the Taoiseach’s announcement of the easing of restrictions and opening of churches for worship came as the Church of Ireland House of Bishops and the Representative Church Body were issuing the ‘Return to In-Church Worship Protocols’ to clergy in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The United Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough were also engaged in a consultation process with clergy to develop guidelines for use locally.
The archbishop thanked all who have kept worship and pastoral care going during the weeks and months when being in church was not safe due to COVID-19. He also thanked community members in the Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough who were involved in ensuring that people were treated with care and dignity in what he called “a time of great fear”.
Separately last week, a Church of Ireland rector featured on RTÉ1 news when he undertook a “pedal-powered pilgrimage”, as he called it, around Co. Donegal.
Archdeacon David Huss cycled all around the four parishes under his care, meeting parishioners in a socially-distanced way outside their homes and offering a blessing and chat or prayer.
He left a special card for a bride-to-be who had had to postpone her wedding. Rachel Wilson said that while she was not the only bride to have her special day postponed, Rev Huss was a source of support and it was great to see him on the day before her wedding was to be held.
The two-wheeled pilgrimage was the first occasion in months that Archdeacon Huss had met his parishioners face to face, which he felt was very different from the online services he had been holding.
He said he has had a great reaction from the locals in the parishes of Donegal, Killymard, Lough Eske and Laghey, and that many had come to understand that the church is not just a building, it is about connectivity and community. His visits on the bicycle were a way of keeping that going.