Congregation still ‘upbeat’ after fire attack

Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 18th May 2016

Three fire appliances attended an incident at Rathfriland Baptist Church last night after smoke was spotted rising from the roof and doors.
Tyres were set against the building which sustained damage to the inside and windows.

Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 18th May 2016 Three fire appliances attended an incident at Rathfriland Baptist Church last night after smoke was spotted rising from the roof and doors. Tyres were set against the building which sustained damage to the inside and windows. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
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Two weeks after an arson attack on Rathfriland Baptist Church Pastor Ian Wilson has said the congregation is ‘still upbeat,’ as they meet in the local Rathfriland High School.

An alternative place of worship had to be found after tyres were placed against the church property and set alight in an overnight attack on Wednesday, May 18.

The full extent of the damage is still as yet unclear, said the Pastor, who is hopeful repairs will get started as soon as possible.

“The experts are looking into it and carrying out assessments” he said.

“There’s a lot of damage that looks superficial, but it’s still hard to tell.

“There is scorch damage on the roof, for instance, but until it is properly assessed we won’t know whether a new roof will be needed.

“A lot of our electronic equipment is also very sensitive to smoke damage, things like our recording equipment and electronic organ, so the investigations are ongoing.”

The Pastor who took to Twitter following the attack to say: “We can rejoice knowing that the Devil may roar but Christ reigns,” said his congregation remains upbeat.

“We’ve been meeting in Rathfriland High School and we’ve had really good meetings there.

“We’ll continue to use the High School for Sunday morning and evening services, although from the first Sunday in June our Drive in Church at Rathfriland Farmer’s Market will begin. This is the fourth year we’ve held this, so we would have been moving out of our church building on Sunday evenings in June anyway.”

Other church activities have also continued unhampered.

“The ladies held their Fit for Life meeting in 2nd and 3rd Rathfriland Presbyterian Church, who gave us the use of their hall,” said Pastor Wilson.

“We’ve also our football coaching week starting on May 30 to June 2 at Iveagh Park, and our church barbecue will take place on May 20, at Castlewellan Castle.”

Pastor Wilson said it will nonetheless be good to get moved back into their own premises.

“We’ll move on things as quickly as we can but at the moment we just need to wait until the experts check things out.

“Once we get the go-ahead though, it will be all hands on deck.”