COVID-19 fears hit Church events

Fears over the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus are taking their toll on Church of Ireland events in the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe.

Raphoe Cathedral was the first to announce the postponement of a major fund-raising – a Spring Gala Concert planned for St Columb’s Cathedral in Londonderry on Friday 13th March – which was called off at lunchtime on Thursday, minutes after the Irish government announced a raft of new measures to halt the transmission of the disease. These included a recommendation that there should be no gatherings of more than 100 people at indoor events until the 29th March at least. The Dean of Raphoe, Very Rev’d Arthur Barrett, had hoped that the concert would have raised a significant sum for the Raphoe Cathedral Restoration Appeal.

The Gala Concert postponement was followed quickly by the postponement of a Mothers’ Union Derry Area praise event, the ‘Big Sing’ on Wednesday 18th March; the postponement of ‘An Evening with Graham Kendrick’ – a fundraiser for St Canice’s Church in Eglinton – which had been planned for Waterside Theatre in Londonderry on Thursday 19th March; and the cancellation of a St Patrick’s Ceilidh scheduled for Donagheady Parish on Friday 20th March.

In a statement on behalf of Mothers’ Union’s Derry & Raphoe Trustee Board, the Diocesan President Jacqui Armstrong said: “In light of the unprecedented developing situation regarding Coronavirus Covid-19 across Ireland it would seem prudent and sensible that we show a duty of care and take measures to protect our members.”

The Derry & Raphoe Trustee Board has cancelled all diocesan and area events in March and April 2020, including ‘The Big Sing’, and recommended the postponement of all branch meetings until after the end of April. Ms Armstrong says, “The situation will be reviewed, and members informed as events unfold and guidelines change.

The Rector of St Canice’s, Rev’d Canon Paul Hoey, said the decision to postpone next Thursday’s Graham Kendrick event had been a response to public concern over the current Coronavirus situation. Apologising for the postponement, he said: “This decision has been taken only after extensive consultation, thought and prayer, and in the interests of the health of all concerned. We are hopeful that Graham Kendrick will be able to perform at a later date.”

If you booked your ticket for ‘An Evening with Graham Kendrick’ through the Waterside Theatre, it will be happy to provide a refund. If you booked through St Canice’s, please speak to the Rector or any of the Churchwardens about a refund.