The first winner of the National Church Awards in the United Kingdom went to a Northern Irish church.
St Macartan’s, located in the village of Augher in Northern Ireland’s Country Tyrone, took the top prize. The church was also selected as the Country Winner in Northern Ireland.
In England, the Country Winner was St George’s church, located in Kidderminster, Worcestershire. The winning church in Scotland was Bishopton Parish Church located in Renfrewshire, and in the case of Wales, it was St Deiniol and St Macella, which located in Marchwiel in Wrexham.
The National Churches Trust conducted the awards in order to commemorate churches as well as the people associated with using and taking care of them.
Christian Today reports:
The Church of the Year award recognises “a shining example of a church, chapel or meeting house which is open, available to all and supported by the local community”.
The winning church should also “meet the needs of this community and be welcoming to those visiting from near and far”
St Macartan’s dates back to 1838 and is the former cathedral of the Roman Catholic diocese of Clogher.
Its beautiful 1922 Clarke Studio stained glass window was recently restored as part of a major heritage project led by Martin McKenna.
The church impressed judges not only with the standard of care of the building, but how it is promoted as part of the heritage of County Tyrone and involves local people as volunteers.
Judges also praised the recent restoration as a “catalyst” for greater local involvement with the church.
“There’s a sense of bringing everyone together to share in the activity. It’s wonderful to see an ecumenical project which demonstrates that leadership is a real linchpin to success. So often clergy think that the gutters have nothing to do with their vocation but it’s great to see their involvement here,” the judges said.
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Image: National Churches Trust