Churches will reopen to public services today.
Church leaders in Derry have urged people to be cautious as public religious services resume today.
Public services will be held in many local churches today for the first time in months.
There will be many restrictions in place to protect worshippers from possible coronavirus infection.
Catholic Bishop of Derry, Doanl McKeown, welcomed the resumption of services but urged people to take care.
“I hope that we have learned lessons about life since we were locked down in March,” he said.
“This is a time to cherish those lessons and not to allow the insights to be lost in a tsunami of going back to the future.
“We have seen what has happened in those places where there has been a stampede to forget we escaped from worse consequences through self-discipline.
“It will take many people time to overcome the fear of mixing again.
“We want our churches to be places where people can share the infectious good news of the Gospel – but avoid being Corona-infected through selfishness and carelessness.
“We have to begin cautiously.
“In all areas of human life, short term gain can lead to long-term pain.”
The Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, has also appealed to parishioners to be patient and understanding as their churches get ready for the resumption of public worship.
“Although in Ireland, at the moment, the virus seems very much under control – which we’re so thankful for – we know the virus is still there,” Bishop Andrew said.
“We’ve been given the freedom to meet again [from Monday], but we know that with freedom comes responsibility.
“At the moment, going back to church places a lot of responsibility on you and on me, on select vestries and on clergy, and on all those who will attend churches because we’ve got to follow all the public health guidelines and we’ve got to follow the guidelines that the Church of Ireland has put together for that.
“I really welcome the opportunity to be back at church but I want you to know that there’s no set date by which this may happen, because select vestries – and clergy in particular – have to make sure that in their parishes it’s right and it’s appropriate and it’s safe to open, and that’ll take time.”
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