29 July 2005

'Solidarity' over church attacks


**This is a great story :)

The Church of Our Lady in Harryville has been attacked several times

There has been a gesture of solidarity by members of a Ballymena Presbyterian church following loyalist attacks on two Catholic churches in the town.

On Friday, people from High Kirk church handed out roses to Massgoers at All Saints church which was smeared with paint earlier this week.

They also scrubbed sectarian graffiti off the door and walls of the Church of Our Lady in Harryville on Thursday.

The church has suffered graffiti and paint attacks in recent weeks.

It was also the target of a loyalist picket between September 1996 and May 1998, linked to nationalist objections to a march by the Orange Order through nearby Dunloy.

"It was a very gracious gesture and I felt it was a very much a mirror of God's love."
Fr Paul Symonds

All Saints priest, Fr Paul Symonds, said the High Kirk members' actions were "their way of saying 'we are sorry for what has happened and the way you have been targeted by these paint bomb attacks' and they were disassociating themselves from that.

"It was an absolutely lovely gesture, one of sheer love. It was a very gracious gesture and I felt it was a very much a mirror of God's love."

The priest was present at the Harryville church when High Kirk members used paint thinner and brushes to remove the graffiti.

"The graffiti was obviously done as an attack, as an expression of evil, and this cleanup is very much the opposite," Fr Symonds said.

Jeremy Gardiner, youth pastor at High Kirk, said his church is in the middle of a community service week where they carry out "random acts of kindness".

"Because of the attacks on the Catholic churches we wanted to show our kindness to the Catholic community. This is a show of solidarity," Mr Gardiner said.

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