The Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has spoken of “society’s debt to police officers” while praising their “selflessness” and the “vital role they play in keeping us all safe.”
Rt Rev Dr Charles McMullen made his comments during a ‘pastoral visit’ to Strand Road police station in Londonderry.
With another visit to Ardmore PSNI station in Newry scheduled, the engagements come after Dr McMullen led a church delegation to the Policing Board for Northern Ireland in January. He has also met police officers in various locations in Northern Ireland during his year in office.
“When I met with representatives of the Policing Board I said that as a community, we all share a responsibility to support the PSNI and its officers. My visits to various police stations are practical reinforcements of those sentiments and a desire to listen, encourage and to pray,” Dr McMullen said.
He was joined on his visit by Very Rev Dr Rob Craig, former Presbyterian Moderator and Minister of Kilfennan Presbyterian Church, one of the PCI’s local congregations.
During the visit the senior churchmen met the area commander for PSNI’s Derry City and Strabane District, T/Superintendent Alan Hutton, who briefed them on policing in the district. They also met with police officers who were on duty at the time.
“These visits are primarily ‘pastoral’ and have grown out of a genuine desire of our Church to thank police officers for their selflessness and the vital role that they play in keeping us all safe. I wanted to convey to them, and their senior commanders, that along with the technical and support staff, they are valued,” Dr McMullen continued.
Appreciating and acknowledging the personal and professional demands that society and today’s uncertainties place on police officers, the Moderator reiterated the message he gave in his sermon at September’s National Police Memorial Day Service, which was held in Belfast.
“When I gave the sermon I spoke about the parable of the Good Samaritan and the different examples set by those Jesus spoke of in the story. I used the analogy for a specific and perhaps obvious reason, that in keeping us safe police officers act as ‘Good Samaritans’ out of a sense of duty to the common good.
“Meeting members of the policing team here has been a special opportunity to listen and to discuss many things, including some that are particularly challenging. I was also very thankful for being able to pray God’s blessing and protection upon all who serve,” Dr McMullen added.
In his Easter Message, Dr McMullen also referenced the police service and others “who do not make the headlines, but make such a difference”.