Tributes paid to ‘gentleman’ Reverend John Anderson who has died from coronavirus

A Church of Ireland rector, described as a “warm-hearted individual”, has died at the age of 46 from Covid-19.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 1:04 pm
Updated Monday, 19th April 2021, 1:18 pm
Rev John Anderson

The Reverend John Anderson, rector of Billy and Derrykeighan in Co Antrim, died on Saturday, April 17

In a statement, the Diocese of Connor confirmed Rev Anderson had fallen ill a week ago and his death was due to coronavirus.

“Despite the careful support of the medical staff of the Causeway Hospital, Coleraine, (John) passed away in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital,” the diocese said.

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The Bishop of Connor, Right Reverend George Davison, said his death had come “as a terrible shock to us all”.

“Just as many people were beginning to believe that Covid was on the retreat, it has robbed us of one of the most likeable people,” he said.

“John was a warm-hearted individual and a very faithful pastor to the people of Billy and Derrykeighan for almost the last 16 years.”

He added: “John’s whole life has been one of service to Christ and his church.

“He will be missed by so many people, but none more so than his wife Eleanor and their precious children. They, and John’s mother and the wider family, are uppermost in my thoughts and prayers at this time.”

Services in Billy and Derrykeighan on Sunday, April 18 were cancelled out of respect for Rev Anderson, where he had been rector since June 2005.

Prior to that, he was curate assistant in Magherafelt, Armagh Diocese, from June 1998 until September 2002 and then the Parish of Ballymena and Ballyclug in September 2002 until his appointment to Billy and Derrykeighan.

Before ordination, John studied at Queen’s University Belfast, then Trinity College, Dublin, and the Church of Ireland Theological College.

Rev. Anderson’s death led to a flood of tributes on social media with Health minister Robin Swann posting: “One of the Lord’s true gentlemen and a great loss, to family, friends and community.”

Rev Willie Nixon from Drumbeg Parish, who was a fellow student, added: “This is sad and shocking news. John was a quiet and decent man. I knew him as a third year during my first year at Trinity. He was a gentle man of deep faith and genuine Christian conviction. Prayers are being said for Eleanor and the children.”

Christian bookshop owner Richard Ryan also knew him, wrote: “So deeply saddened by this news. John was such a gentle soul and I’ll remember him with much fondness. Thoughts and prayers with Eleanor and their children.”

Fr Martin Magill, a parish priest from St John on the Falls road in west Belfast, also posted: “This is so sad. May he indeed rest in God’s peace”.

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