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First Light will unite communities in reflection and hope

28 October 2020
This year's Halloween celebrations will come to a conclusion on Sunday with the traditional First Light event.
As with much of this year's Halloween programme, First Light has been adapted due to Covid-19 and will involve special online videos which will be shared on the Derry Halloween website and social media pages. The videos will be produced and delivered by Kieran Griffiths, and funding has been provided by Derry City and Strabane District Council's Good Relations department.
One video will be titled 'Windows to the Soul', which will include a tour centring on the atmosphere, the people, the history, the song and the prayer of four Churches in Derry.
It will begin in Long Tower (Aras Colmcille), moving to St Augustine's, then First Derry Presbyterian and concluding at St Columb's Cathedral, and will feature a contribution from Fr Aidan Mullan, Rev Nigel Cairns, Rev David Latimer and Dean Raymond Stewart, and dedicated volunteers hoping to illuminate the importance of their home to the next generation. Each Church leader will contribute a verse towards an overall All Souls common prayer to unite all souls.
Inspired from a poem by Daniel Ferguson, 'Windows to the Soul' takes a look at Christ upon a hill viewed through the windows of each Church. His poem describes the architecture of each window, giving the simple variations, but in essence it is still a window. More importantly, each window is still looking at the same Christ. 
The tour will contain original music featuring vocalists, piano and guitar inspired by the Spirit of each place and a series of hymns special to each Church.
There will also be First Light: Messages of Hope which will see each of the four Church leaders sharing a direct message of hope with all communities, and everyone who has found this year difficult.
The lighting of a candle in each Church will symbolise the passing of the torch and the united nature of the tour.
During 'Messages of Hope', each Church leader will honour those souls lost to COVID or for any other reason this year.
Council are also working with the two cathedrals in the city, St Eugene's and St Columb's, to mark the traditions of All Souls on Sunday 1st and Monday 2nd November. There will be services in both cathedrals which will be streamed online, with special messages of reflection and remembrance. 
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Brian Tierney, said First Light will be a particularly poignant way to end Halloween this year.
"First Light is a special occasion at the end of our annual celebrations, but this year it is especially significant as a time to reflect on the difficulties we have all had to navigate in 2020, the people that we as a community have lost and the challenges that lie ahead which we will face together.
"That togetherness is typified by four of our Church leaders, and I thank them for taking part, sharing messages of hope, and welcoming everyone into their Church."
Kieran Griffiths, the writer of the piece, added: "Through First Light we wanted to reach out to those who haven't been able to attend services this year, as a way of connecting safely. 
"Looking through the flame of a flickering candlelight, everything moves, nothing is certain, but the dance of the light is calming. Where then should our focus be?
"Our focus and our theme has been shedding light on different communities and showing unity as one.
"Through prayer, messages and the symbolism of the candle we will remember those who have passed on and look forward with hope for the months ahead."
For more on First Light and the Halloween programme, visit https://derryhalloween.com/