Church Life during the Covid-19 crisis

One of the casualties of the Covid-19 crisis has been the cancellation of church services and activities operative since St. Patrick’s Day until further notice.

Clergy in the Diocese continue their work of prayer, study and care. Each week

they will say Morning or Evening Prayer in our parish churches by themselves

but for all of us. Parish Churches will be open at certain times for private prayer though we need to keep our social distance. The voice of prayer will not be silent.

Daily prayers and readings are provided on the Church of Ireland website for personal or family use.

Each Sunday until we return to communal worship, a diocesan service will be available  on media platforms for us to share in.  A number of our parishes are also streaming Sunday services. Resources for children and young people will also be made available

Details of where to find these services and resources are on this website here

Clergy have been asked by Bishop Ferran to continue pastoral care but largely from a distance. There are many ways in which they and we all can keep in touch.

Folk in hospital, nursing homes and living alone should not be forgotten.

In the event of funeral services only close family members will be in attendance.

That is going to be very difficult for so many people. Memorial services at a later date when the crisis is past will offer some consolation. There is so much uncertainty and things will change on an almost daily basis. Lines from an African hymn point us to our only hope.


Our only hope is in you Jesus, our only hope is you.

From early in the morning to late at night, our only hope is you.



Clerical Appointments 2020

  • The Bishop of Clogher, The Right Reverend John Mc Dowell has been elected Archbishop of Armagh in succession to Archbishop Richard Clarke who retired earlier this year, effective from the 28th of April.
  • Archdeacon George Davison, who served as the rector of Derrylin and Archdeacon of Kilmore, will be consecrated as Bishop of Connor on the 1st of May.
  • Reverend Richard Waller has been appointed rector of the Kildallon group of parishes.
  • Reverend Simon Scott has been appointed minister in charge of the Longford group of parishes.

Both institutions will take place later this year once the Covid-19 emergency is past. Do remember these men in your prayers as theyseek to serve the Lord in these new situations.

Church of Ireland Guidance in relation to Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19)

The following advisory guidelines for the Church of Ireland’s response regarding the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) reflect previous advice provided by the Church as a response to pandemic flu.  The guidelines offer a general framework to parishes, subject to further approval or other advice that may be considered appropriate by the diocesan bishop.

  1. Follow all public health guidance provided by state authorities – the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland ( and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre in the Republic of Ireland (
  2. Physical interaction during services, including the Sign of Peace, should be suspended.  Clergy may choose to give the congregation permission to carry out an alternative Sign of Peace that does not involve hand contact (e.g. a smile, nod or bow) if so wished.  Shaking hands on greeting and departure at religious services/ gatherings should be suspended.  Observe good hand and general hygiene – thorough hand-washing with soap or sanitisers and disposal of tissues.
  3. Stay at home if you feel ill and display influenza-like symptoms.  The symptoms to be aware of in the case of the coronavirus include cough, shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing, and fever.  Do not come to church services until you feel well.
  4. The Church’s duty of care extends to members of the clergy.  If you have influenza-type symptoms, do not call the clergy for pastoral visitation.  Pastoral support for parishioners who are unable to attend church services should be provided by telephone or online (e.g. Skype).
  5. Everyone administering Holy Communion should wash their hands or use alcohol-based hand gel before beginning.  Holy Communion should be administered only in one kind (bread) and placed into the hands only and not onto the tongue.  Only the celebrant should drink from the chalice.  Holy Communion is normally received in both kinds separately – bread and wine – but may be received in either kind, and those who are incapable of receiving the sacrament are to be assured that they are by faith partakers of the body and blood of Christ and of the benefits He conveys to us by them (Book of Common Prayer, p.440).  Intinction should be avoided.

Ballymachugh Plough Sunday

For the third year in a row, Saint Pauls, Ballymachugh hosted Plough Sunday – our service of thanksgiving and praise for the farming year to come.

It was a wonderful service of prayers and themes following through the farming year – Plough, Sow, Grow, Reap, Praise and Share. We were joined once again by the local Priest, Father Brady, who opened the service for us. We also were privileged to have the service lead mostly by the teenagers and children of our 3 parishes. At the end of the service, everybody took home a bag of seed to remind us that we are all sowers of God’s word into peoples lives, and that we all have equal opportunity to do that through a smile, a generous act, speaking, and general day to day life.

There was a beautiful chorus of music throughout the building as people arrived, through the service, and as people left. We always find such joy as a congregation when someone takes seat at our organ to play songs of worship.

Once again, the Ballymachugh Plough was positioned at the front of the church, symbolising the all the labour in the fields of the locality. This plough was kindly donated to the church for Plough Sunday a couple of years ago by Louis Leahy whose family used to plough the surrounding lands with that very plough. We hope later in the year to have it permanently mounted and displayed in the church grounds.

Following the service, we held our Children Tractor Run. We were blessed with a lovely window of sunshine for the children to drive their tractors down the lane and back again. The children were delighted with their prizes and goody bags following the tractor run.

Despite the weather, the tractors and vintage vehicles came out in numbers to take part in the annual Ballymachugh Tractor run. We were thrilled to see so many beautiful machines lined up through the church carpark.

On behalf of the people of Saint Pauls, Ballymachugh, we wish to extend a big thank you to all involved in the day. To Father Brady who came to join us once again; to Lorna Walker who came for the 2nd year in a row to sit in granny’s old seat and play the organ for us; to the children and teenagers who helped lead the service; to those who cleaned and decorated the church and grounds before and after; to those involved in stewarding, registration, route planning, and general logistics of the day; to those who donated food, baked goods, and goods for the raffle; to those involved in serving tea and coffee; to those who came along to participate in the day; to Tom Michael and team who so valiantly cooked all the food for after the run; to Alan Coote who so kindly came to do the judging of the vehicles once again; and to all who came with a smile on their face to share in the joys of the day.

We hope that for years to come, this event has and will remain an enjoyable experience that brings us all together for fun and fellowship as a community.

Christmas Message from Bishop Ferran

Fifty years ago in the summer of 1969, Neil Armstrong stood on the surface of the moon, the first person to ever do so. The then US President, Richard Nixon responded, ‘the greatest event in human history occurred when man put his foot on the moon.’ Astronaut James Irwin who stood on the moon in 1971 and who became the first person to drive a vehicle on the lunar surface disagreed with the President. ‘ the most significant event in the world is not that man stood on the moon, but that God in Christ stood on the earth.’

That is the meaning of Christmas, God touching down on earth. God’s touchdown in Jesus Christ is what we celebrate at Christmas. It is not just a commemorative celebration but a present reality as we allow Jesus to touchdown in our lives our families, our communities and our land. His touchdown makes all the difference.
May I wish you a very happy Christmas and hopeful New Year.

+ Ferran

Church of Ireland Youth Department Training Day – 16th Jan 2020 – Dunboyne

The Church of Ireland Youth Department together with Missional Generation will be hosting an amazing training day for clergy, school chaplains and youth workers on Thursday 16 January 2020 at the Oak Centre in Dunboyne.

The day is funded through the Comhar Grant which encourages dioceses to work together. The first part of this collaboration with Ben was the Dioceses of Meath & Kildare and Kilmore, Elphin & Ardagh producing an App of a virtual (VR) tour of both Drumcliffe Church and Kildare Cathedral. Ben will explore with us how these resources and many more can be used in youth ministry, school’s work, RE and in our churches. The first twenty people to book will receive a whole host of resources for Ministry.