Those of you who lived through the 350 + comments on the latest Londonderry name change thread may be relieved to hear that in some respects things are changing in respect to confidence in the city. The Derry Journal reports an upbeat assessment from Canon Bill McNee, rector of the newly enlarged Christ Church parish:
“We are, I believe, now reaping the benefits of this with a growing congregation on the cityside. I think it is important to stress that there will be
no closure of churches because of the amalgamation. No churches are closing in the city – worship will continue in all of them.”
Canon McNee acknowledged that, during the ‘Troubles’, Protestants – including many Church of Ireland members – relocated from the cityside to the Waterside.
“However, the whole atmosphere has now changed,” he said. “The fear factor is gone. People who were once frightened to come to the cityside to worship are now returning. It is my hope that this represents the first steps in the re-emergence of a vibrant Protestant community on the west bank. Because, in all truth, until this happens, the city remains incomplete.
“Granted, it may take some time – many years, perhaps – to return to what existed in the city pre-1969, but it is my firm belief that Church of Ireland people have a key role to play in debating the shape and content of this shared future.”
It’s an exact expression of the kind of Protestant optimism the paper called for earlier in the summer.