Church in full bloom for flower festival

Vacancy convener Dr Rodger Crooks arranges flowers at May St Presbyterian Church during a floral festival which illustrates Bible stories, organised as part of celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James version of the Bible. Pic by Presseye
Vacancy convener Dr Rodger Crooks arranges flowers at May St Presbyterian Church during a floral festival which illustrates Bible stories, organised as part of celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James version of the Bible. Pic by Presseye

BELFAST’S historic May Street Presbyterian Church launched a festival yesterday that could boost the church’s appeal to tourists.

The Grace and Truth flower festival, which was officially opened by Belfast lord mayor Patrick Convery, will run until Sunday.

It will feature floral displays designed to portray passages from John, Chapter One – in tribute to the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible.

The church, built in 1829, will also host a craft fair with displays from organisations such as Christian Aid, the Wycliffe Bible Translators and United Christian Broadcasters.

Musical events will include piano recitals to organ music using May Street’s Binn’s Organ, which dates from 1914.

Commenting on the festival launch, clerk of session at May Street, Arthur Acheson, said he thinks the four-day event will do wonders for attracting tourists to the church.

He added: “Although we are a small congregation we feel that our location in the city centre is a vital element of the Presbyterian Church’s outreach.

“Our church is already very much on the tourist map and we hope that this Grace and Truth festival will be another valuable opportunity to engage with visitors and let people see our sanctuary.”

Speaking at its opening, Mr Convery noted that the festival would also serve as a way to link present Belfast with the city’s past.

He said May Street Presbyterian was the perfect place to host such a festival as it is a part of Belfast’s “historic legacy”.

“Over the years, the centre of Belfast has lost a number of landmark churches, so it’s good to see that May Street is still flourishing,” he said.

“I am told that May Street’s church doors are now open for 44 hours a week, more than at any time in its history, and this is surely a good sign.

“Although the council is always pleased to see new development taking place in the city centre, it’s important that we don’t lose our links with the past.

“May Street, and indeed its neighbouring church of St Malachy’s, are important aspects of the city’s historic legacy.”

The festival is running until 8pm today, and from 10am to 6pm tomorrow and Sunday.