Leaders of the four main Christian Churches in Londonderry came together on Monday evening, 13th December, for St Columb’s Cathedral’s traditional Emergency Services Carol Service and a Service of Thanksgiving and Praise for the Emergency Services. The service was led by the Dean of Derry, Very Rev Raymond Stewart, who was assisted by the Cathedral’s Pastoral Assistant, Rev Canon John Merrick. 

Dean Stewart said it was a particular pleasure to welcome members of the Emergency Services in the city. Uniformed members of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, the Fire and Rescue Service, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Foyle Search and Rescue, St John Ambulance and British Red Cross were in attendance. 

“All of us have, in one way or another, seen at first hand the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic,” Dean Stewart said. “It has impacted on the way that we have been able or unable to live our lives. Members of the Emergency Services, who have been for so long on the front line, have earned our admiration and respect. We can all remember those evenings that we clapped to express our thanks. And, tonight, we again express our thanks to you and your colleagues for having kept us safe and for continuing to keep us safe in these uncertain times.” 

During the service, readings were delivered by the Minister of Carlisle Road Methodist Church, Rev John Montgomery; the Moderator of Derry and Donegal Presbytery, Rev Keith Hibbert; the Bishop of Derry, Dr Donal McKeown; the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster; and by Canon Merrick. 

Among those in church for the service were Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for the City of Londonderry, Dr Angela Garvey; the Queen’s Lord Lieutenant for the County of Londonderry, Alison Millar; Paula McIntyre MBE, High Sheriff of the County of Londonderry; Linda Heaney, High Sheriff of Derry City and Strabane District Council; and the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane, Alderman Graham Warke. 

There was strict social distancing in place during the service, with those present required to wear face coverings and sit in alternating pews.