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PA
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PA
Church News

Largest Protestant denomination in Ireland releases lockdown guidance ahead of easing restrictions

by Cara Bentley

In preparation for the easing of lockdown restrictions, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has issued guidance on worship services and other activities. 

The Republic of Ireland is now in Phase 2 of its plan to get back to normal. The message is to stay local - either within one's county, or within 20 kilometres of home.

Phase 2 in Ireland also allows six people to meet from outside their household both indoors and outdoors and outdoor exercise, cultural or social activities of up to 15 people may take place.

In preparation for the lockdown being eased further and the re-opening of churches, the Presbyterian Church, the largest Protestant denomination in the country, has told all of its churches what they will need to consider. 

It informs churches that they will need to remember that not everyone will be able to join them straight away and that Bible studies and small groups will probably return before communal worship services. 

It tells church leaders to only hold meetings if absolutely necessary, to encourage standing orders when church members want to give as offering plates should be temporarily cast aside and to urge people to go straight to their (socially distanced) seats rather than mingle in a foyer. 

It advises against handshaking and handing out notice sheets, Bibles or hymn books. 

Trevor Gribben, clerk to the General Assembly, said: "Each congregation's circumstances will be different and they will come to a variety of decisions about what activities to recommence, and how quickly this can happen. It is important that churches continue to pay attention to guidance issued by the Northern Ireland Executive and the government in the Republic of Ireland along with the relevant statutory agencies. 

"We recognise that some members may feel anxious about returning to church services and other activities, and for a time it may be necessary to operate a mixture of digital and socially distanced face-to-face gatherings."

To read the guidance, click here.

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