Church torn apart by IRA bomb reopens

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The Independent Online
The congregation of St Helen's Bishopsgate at last returned to its home in the heart of London yesterday as the church, torn apart by the IRA bomb that wrecked the Baltic Exchange in 1992, was formally reopened.

The largest congregation in the City has twice suffered the effects of IRA attacks: after St Helen's east windows were blown out and the centre of the church destroyed, they moved to nearby St Botulph's, only to have their adopted place of worship hit by a second IRA bomb, which caused further damage to St Helen's.

The pounds 3.5m renovation was paid for by insurance money and gifts from the congregation, which includes City workers attending the resumed Tuesday lunchtime services. The Georgian interior, which unites three sections of the medieval church, belies the destruction done by the bombings, when parishioners watched grey-blue glass from the City's skyscrapers cover St Helen's like snow.

More than 1,000 people attended the reopening ceremony and remembered the four people killed in the two bombings. The outgoing Bishop of London, David Hope, said in a written message that "God is working to draw out good from evil, to raise up the ruined places ... and St. Helen's is no exception.''

But the rector of St Helen's, Prebendary Dick Lucas, told the congregation he held little hope for human nature. He had earlier told a press conference: "I'm not a man of very much hope either for the state of the world or for Northern Ireland." Asked whether he forgave the bombers he said: "I'm not aware that anyone has asked for forgiveness."