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Church of Ireland Notes from ‘The Irish Times’

Black Santa Presentations

The 2021 Black Santa appeal at St Anne’s cathedral, Belfast, raised £150,000 to support the vital work of charities across Northern Ireland. This will be distributed to around 200 organisations at the annual Good Samaritans Service, which returns in person in St Anne’s tomorrow (Sunday) – the 2021 service was held virtually due to Covid–19 restrictions.

The 45th Black Santa Sit–out on the Cathedral steps began on 13 December and continued until Christmas Eve. Black Santa himself, the Very Revd Stephen Forde, following in the footsteps of the progenitor of the Sit–Out, the later Dean Samuel Crooks, said the sum raised had exceeded his expectations.

‘On December 23, having reached £100,000, I issued the challenge for us to hit £150,000, and it is amazing that we achieved this’, Dean Forde said. ‘The £150,000 total exceeded my expectations in a year of restricted footfall, and when many of the Cathedral’s major events had been cancelled because of the Covid restrictions.’

2021 was a bumper year also for Dublin’s Black Santa Sit Out. Despite continuing pandemic restrictions, the appeal at St Ann’s church, Dawson St, raised a record €45,000 for local good causes. The appeal got off to a flying start when energy company Energia got in touch with an offer of €10,000 as part of their charitable donations in lieu of Christmas events for staff which had to be cancelled.

Arthur Vincent of St Ann’s said the parish was delighted at the success of this Christmas’s appeal against all the odds: ‘This has been our best year ever. With the continuing effects of the pandemic, we had not set our hopes very high. Obviously the donation from Energia was a great boost but there were many other generous donations.’

Last Christmas’s appeal was the 21st annual Black Santa Sit Out at St Ann’s. It was officially launched by Lord Mayor Alison Gilliland and Archbishop Michael Jackson. They were joined by priest in charge, the Revd Terry Lilburn and St Ann’s caretaker, Fred Deane, as well as four students from Alexandra College choir who quietly sang ‘Silent Night’ accompanied by the harp.

The charities supported by Black Santa include the Salvation Army, the Simon Community and the Peter McVerry Trust, all of which work with homeless people and also Protestant Aid, Barnardo’s, St Vincent De Paul, the Laura Lynn Foundation and the Solas Project.

The funds raised will be distributed to the charities during a special service at St Ann’s on Sunday, 13 February, when the preacher will be the Dean of Belfast.

Tomorrow (Sunday) RTÉ will broadcast a service with members of Holy Trinity parish, Rathmines, Dublin. led by the Rector, the Revd Rob. Jones.

Eco–Congregation Ireland has announced an online gathering for all friends in the Leinster regionEco Journeys – Past and Future’ will be held on Saturday, 12 February, at 10.30am – 12.00pm. This event is open to those in Leinster who are interested in learning how to start their church’s eco–journey, work towards their ECI Award, and develop their work into the future. We will hear from three faith communities who have received their ECI Award. They will tell us how they began their journey and how they have continued their work for God’s creation. There will be an opportunity for discussion, questions and ideas sharing.

If you would like to attend, drop a line to info@ecocongregationireland.com to book a place and you will be sent the Zoom link closer to the time.

Church of Ireland Notes

Published in the Saturday edition of The Irish Times

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