A minister’s young son provoked joyful laughter in Clooney Methodist Church when he interrupted an evening service arranged by churches in Londonderry’s Waterside area to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It was part of a joint initiative, on Wednesday 25th January 2023, which drew around 80 people who walked to each other’s churches, sang hymns and prayed together to celebrate the occasion.

The ecumenical event began in All Saints, Clooney, where participants were welcomed by the Rev Andrea Cotter. Rev Cotter told those present that the theme for this year’s week was ‘Be-Longing: praying for unity amidst injustice’. Globally, the week was focusing on the injustice of racism, but here the service was being adapted to take account of issues such sectarianism and prejudice, too.

The congregation sang a number of hymns at All Saints before making their way the very short distance to Clooney Methodist Church, virtually next door.

There was laughter when the youngest member of the congregation rushed to the front of the church to join his father – the minister, Rev Peter Morris! Rev Morris performed a minor miracle of sorts by continuing to lead worship while keeping a gentle, restraining hand on his son. The youngster discovered that thumping his father’s microphone could make a funny noise in the church’s sound system – much to the congregation’s amusement and his father’s embarassment.

There was less drama during the third and final part of the joint service, which took place in St Columb’s Church. The 80 participants walked up Chapel Road to the church. Worship there was led by the Parish Priest, Fr Michael Canny, who invited those present to challenge racism and sectarianism wherever they encountered it.

Afterwards, the dozens of walkers enjoyed refreshments together in the parish hall beside St Columb’s Church before going their separate ways.