Church reaches out to community with ‘keep the lights on campaign’

By Mary Dennehy

A TALLAGHT church took inspiration from the recently launched ‘keep the lights on’ campaign and reached out to the community by illuminating the village skyline.

Last Friday, Guinness joined forces with publicans nationwide and organisations such as the Licenced Vinters Association (LVA) and the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland ( VFI) to shine a light on the struggles of pubs and staff in the face of Covid-19 restrictions.

St Maelruains lights 1

St Maelruain’s Church of Ireland took part in the ‘keep the lights on’ campaign

Pubs right across the country simultaneously switched on their Christmas lights last weekend.

Canon William Deverell of St Maelruain’s Church of Ireland in Tallaght Village was inspired by the campaign, and took his own approach last weekend to highlight that churches are still here, although many through Facebook Live services.

Last weekend, a sign went up outside the historic Tallaght Village church that read, ‘We are trying to keep the lights on for the Holy Spirit of Christmas’.

While reaching out to the community, Canon Deverell wanted to highlight the importance of churches in many people’s lives – and the struggles faced by churches as their services and events are cancelled.

St Maelruain’s, which has taken its services online, was allowed to open for 11 Sundays in the past seven months, with a maximum of 25 people permitted in the church.

“While recognising that we are all trying to keep the numbers down to prevent our local hospital from being overwhelmed and to protect our senior citizens, it was the older members of the congregation who really appreciated the 11 Sundays we were allowed open”, he told The Echo.

“It was one of the few places that they actually felt safe.

“Not only was it good I hope for their spiritual health but also for their mental health as it was one of the few occasions that they could meet somebody else that week, granted after the service and with a mask, outside.”

Speaking with The Echo, Canon Deverell said that the ‘keep the lights on’ campaign was launched the same weekend that St Maelruain’s church made an appeal to its parishioners.

“It happened to be the same weekend when we had made an appeal to our few and already hard-pressed parishioners for our annual Gift Day”, he said.

St Maelruain’s Church provides support and space to community groups and organisations throughout the year, which in turn support the church’s different fundraisers like its Spring Concert and Summer Sale, all of which have been cancelled.

Canon Deverell wants the community to know that the church is still there for them while also raising awareness of the challenges faced by parishioners and churches alike.

Follow St Maelruain’s Parish on Facebook.

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