Churches back Street Pastors pilot for the Coleraine borough

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After months of meetings, a councillor has described her delight that eight of Coleraine’s churches have signed an agreement from the Ascension Trust to formally and legally begin Street Pastors.

The pilto project will first take to the streets in the next few months. CRB checks and training will take place in the meantime.

Councillor Stephanie Quigley, who has co-ordinated the initiative, said: ““This is the church in action – on the streets.

“I am delighted that these churches have taken seats on the management committee and will have a very real impact on our streets. I may be new to politics, but as a mum of five and having lived in Coleraine my whole life, I understand the genuine value of people from every background coming together for the good of the whole community.” ]

Councillor Quigley saidthat as a result of the information nights over 40 people have signed up as potential Street Pastors. Volunteers will receive 50 hours of thorough training, in part provided by the police, to ensure they are prepared for the problems they might face.

The pastors will be identifiable by their bright blue coats with ‘Street Pastors’ emblazoned on the back.

Ricky Wright, Director of Vineyard Compassion,said the project is an opportunity “to release churches to engage with the vulnerable in our communities and offer them hope.”

Rev. Charles Keaney   P.P. Parish of Dunboe, Macosquin and Aghadowey, agreed: “It is important that as many denominations come together and are actively involved in this vitally important work to witness to the healing power of Christ in our lives.”

Pastors Joe and Donna Kelly from Living Rivers Northwest said: “Only when a tragic event happens we say – ‘If only someone had been there; If only I had acted!  Street Pastors removes the ‘if only’ with ‘we do’. Street Pastors is the body of Christ standing together, showing love through action.”

The churches who now form the management committee of Street Pastors Coleraine are: St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland, Causeway Coast Vineyard, Upper Room, Living Rivers Northwest, St. John’s Parish, Castlerock Fellowship, Terrace Row Presbyterian, Church of the Redeemer.

The committee will meet quarterly along with Council and PSNI members to maximise the positive impact of Street Pastors in the night-time culture of Coleraine.