Churches: Anglican bishop’s installation is cancelled due to Covid fears

A service of installation on Sunday January 9 for the relatively new Church of Ireland bishop of Connor has been postponed because of covid pandemic fears.

St John’s parish church, Caledon, Co Tyrone. Picture: Billy Maxwell
St John’s parish church, Caledon, Co Tyrone. Picture: Billy Maxwell

The official bishopric service for the Rev George Davison was to have taken place in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast with the incoming bishop stating a new date would be arranged “when it was safe to proceed”.

The service was to have been by invitation only to parish delegates and other religious faith representatives.

Bishop Davison, in a message to all invited guests, said he had reflected on information received from the Northern Ireland chief medical officer and chief scientific officer on the current public health situation.

“Considering the advisability of gathering a significant number of people from across Co Antrim in January, I have decided to postpone the installation service planned for St Anne’s cathedral on January 9,” said the bishop. The planned service would have been attended by upwards of 300 worshippers.

In a pre-Christmas letter to clergy in Connor diocese, the Rev Davison said that there was no suggestion that Christmas services in local parishes should not go ahead. However, he said non–essential meetings and gatherings should be delayed, and advised clergy and parishioners to continue to carefully follow established mitigations to stop spread of covid.

Bishop Davison, a Belfast man, was elected bishop of Connor in February 2020, replacing the Rev Alan Abernethy, who retired due to ill-health. The Rev Davison had been rector of St Nicholas parish church, Carrickfergus, and had previously ministered in Co Fermanagh. He was consecrated bishop later that year.

The sprawling Connor diocese reaches to more than 100,000 parishioners in 77 churches located throughout Co Antrim, north and west Belfast and part of Co Londonderry. It is the most populous of the 11 dioceses in the Church of Ireland.

In 2020, the enthronment service for Church of Ireland primate Archbishop John McDowell had to be postponed because of the covid pandemic. It went ahead in September last in St Patrick’s cathedral, Armagh

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