Crowds flock to ‘Walk of Witness’ despite protests

Lisburn City Centre Clergy pictured prior to the Good Friday carrying of the cross walk of witness in Lisburn.  L to R:  Rev David Turtle (Trinity Methodist), Rev Mervyn Ewing (Seymour Street Methodist), Rev Dr Allen Sleith (Hillsborough Presbyterian Church), Rev Denise Acheson (Lisburn Cathedral Assistant Minister), Very Rev Sam Wright (Lisburn Cathedral), Rt Rev Dr Frank Sellar (Moderator of the General Assembly), Rt Rev Alan Abernethy (Bishop of Connor), Father Dermot McCaughan (St Patricks) and Rev John Brackenridge (First Lisburn Presbyterian).
Lisburn City Centre Clergy pictured prior to the Good Friday carrying of the cross walk of witness in Lisburn. L to R: Rev David Turtle (Trinity Methodist), Rev Mervyn Ewing (Seymour Street Methodist), Rev Dr Allen Sleith (Hillsborough Presbyterian Church), Rev Denise Acheson (Lisburn Cathedral Assistant Minister), Very Rev Sam Wright (Lisburn Cathedral), Rt Rev Dr Frank Sellar (Moderator of the General Assembly), Rt Rev Alan Abernethy (Bishop of Connor), Father Dermot McCaughan (St Patricks) and Rev John Brackenridge (First Lisburn Presbyterian).

Both annual ‘Walk of Witness’ processions went ahead in the borough on Good Friday and were well attended.

This was despite the new rector of Lambeg Parish Church, the Rev Edmond (Eddie) Coulter, refusing to take part in the Lambeg event and a small protest being held at the Lisburn procession over theological differences with the Roman Catholic Church.

Lambeg clergy pictured at Derryvolgie Parish Church with people who took part in the Lambeg Churches Good Friday carrying of the cross walk of witness.  Included are L to R: Rev David Knox (Harmony Hill Presbyterian), Rev Stephen McElhinney (Derryvolgie Parish), Rev Susan Moore (Assistant Minister of Harmony Hill Presbyterian) and Fr Paul Byrne (St Colmans Roman Catholic Church, Lambeg).

Lambeg clergy pictured at Derryvolgie Parish Church with people who took part in the Lambeg Churches Good Friday carrying of the cross walk of witness. Included are L to R: Rev David Knox (Harmony Hill Presbyterian), Rev Stephen McElhinney (Derryvolgie Parish), Rev Susan Moore (Assistant Minister of Harmony Hill Presbyterian) and Fr Paul Byrne (St Colmans Roman Catholic Church, Lambeg).

Lambeg churches united for the procession which began at Derryvolgie Parish Church at 10.30am.

It made its way to Harmony Hill Presbyterian Church then St Colman’s Roman Catholic Church where refreshments were served. A short time of reflection was held in each church.

Speaking of the annual event, Rev Stephen McElhinney (Derryvolgie Parish) said: “Our main focus today is the ‘cross’ and the walk of witness is all about remembering the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for our sins”.

Rev Coulter was instituted as rector of Lambeg Parish Church in October 2016 in succession to the Rev Canon Ken McReynolds.

Previously the annual procession commenced at Derryvolgie Parish Church and made its way to Harmony Hill Presbyterian Church, then St Colman’s Roman Catholic Church and lastly Lambeg Parish Church where refreshments were served.

But this year the procession finished at St Colman’s Roman Catholic Church where refreshments were served.

Meanwhle the Lisburn procession gathered at the lower end of Bow Street at 12.30pm and made its way along Bow Street to Market Square for a short act of worship led by some Lisburn City Centre Clergy.

The Rt Rev Dr Frank Sellar (Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland) and the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy (Bishop of Connor) took part in the procession.

Those who gathered for worship following the walk of witness were welcomed by the chairman of Lisburn City Centre Ministers’ Fellowship, the Rev Mervyn Ewing (Minister of Seymour Street Methodist Church).

Prayers for the city of Lisburn were led by Pastor George Hilary (Lisburn Christian Fellowship).

Refreshments were served afterwards in First Lisburn Presbyterian Church providing the opportunity for people to meet and chat with the Presbyterian Moderator and the Bishop of Connor.

A small protest, reported to consist of five people, was held with Raymond Stewart of Reformation Ireland describing the event as a “betrayal of the Gospel.”