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County Cork parish ‘Preach on the Beach’ makes front page news

Social distancing means that some church buildings cannot accommodate their usual Sunday congregations at the moment. In common with parishes around the country, church buildings in Cork, Cloyne and Ross have been opening progressively; approximately 35 of the 76 churches in the Diocese have now reopened.

Some church buildings cannot reopen due to their size, but there are ways around it. The Church of St John the Evangelist, Courtmacsherry, County Cork, in the Parish of Kilgariffe Union, is a small ‘summer only’ church which welcomes many visitors: too many in current times for the size of the church.

Rather than not open, guided by the rector, the Reverend Kingsley Sutton, parishioners have been hosting ‘open church’ times on Sundays for personal prayer for rotating numbers of people. Last Sunday, bigger things were planned: on the beach!

Last Sunday, in order to accommodate a bigger crowd (within the public health guidelines, of course) the rector held the Sunday morning Service on the beach at Courtmacsherry.

One parishioner messaged the Bishop to say that it was ‘liberating, and we were able to sing in the open air, even though we were socially distanced from one another.’

The Service also made the front page of the Irish Examiner on Monday, 27th July.

The Reverend Kingsley Sutton said: 'Because of Covid, church moved on to the beach in Courtmacsherry last Sunday. Lots of people came and stayed. Children built sandcastles and paddled during the Service. It was a very inclusive service and we all enjoyed being able to sing out loud again! During my talk I introduced the concept of a virus of kindness. All in all, a wonderful morning!'

You will find the video message here.