Evangelists watch over flock by CCTV

An evangelical, non-denominational church which has nearly 700 members from 32 countries is going hi-tech to deliver the word of God to its flock.

The Cork Church — which has recently spent “a substantial sum” on a new 25,000 sq ft place of worship, leased from Siptu at Connolly Hall — is providing instant translations to Russian members of its flock.

In a reversal of the Old Testament story of the Tower of Babel, it also has advanced plans to provide the service to its French, Portuguese, Polish, and Spanish-speaking congregation.

The church also hopes to start a sign-language service.

The main worshipping area is a two-tier, cinema-style auditorium which can comfortably seat 700 and is equipped with third-generation acoustics, according to its Ballyphehane-born full-time pastor, Nick Cassidy.

Originally a Catholic, Nick became a pastor 17 years ago administering to a congregation of just seven at what was then known as the Donnybrook Pentecostal Church.

Security, especially for the more than 200 children who attend its Sunday School, is paramount for the church, which is a registered charity.

There are banks of CCTV cameras everywhere and a number of security men, who are all Garda vetted.

The children can also be addressed by their ministers from any part of the building through television links.

“We’re bringing people together with technology,” said Pastor Nick. “A substantial amount was spent on the building through the cumulated savings of the last 17 years.

“A lot of the work was also done by volunteers.”

He said his flock also raise around €100,000 a year for work on foreign missions, which include orphanages and feeding programmes in a number of Third World countries.

“I’m going to Zambia soon to organise crop-growing which will make an orphanage self-sufficient,” he said.

Pastor Nick says his church doesn’t bash people over the head with Bibles and doesn’t put pressure on Catholics, Protestants and others who often attend its services to join up, saying it is “against the principles of love” to force someone to do something.

“People are inherently spiritual and they want something more than material things. People are looking for Christ and the Gospel.

“This country lost its soul in the Celtic Tiger years. But that shouldn’t be blamed for all its ills. For the most part, individually you are the master of your own downfall,” the salaried pastor said.

He is not the only person employed full-time by the Cork Church.

It employs Stephen McBride as an assistant pastor, worship director Andy Finn, mission director Lucy-Anne O’Leary, and academic Sean Hans Sirmons, who oversees its Bible School of 20 full-time students.

Nick recently married his eldest son, Nick Jr, in the Connolly Hall church and the father of four, is preparing to marry another son, Nathan, there in March.

* Further information on the church can be had at www.corkchurch.com

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