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My pastor today preached an illustration which he received from John Upton, head of the Baptist World Alliance, a large missions organization.

He tells this story (paraphrased) in order to illustrate that churches should seek to build bridges rather than walls with his community. I'd like to know if this is true:

In Ireland, there is an old church that was built in the center of a village, near several pubs. In this part of town, traffic is tight, as one would expect, and when the pubs were built, not enough planning went into them. In particular, the pubs did not provide sufficient toilet facilities for their patrons, and so a problem began to arise: On Saturday nights, too many patrons for too few loos led said patrons to relieve themselves in the church yard. As you might expect, this was a problem for the church.

Naturally, the church called a meeting to figure out what could be done. The first thought was to build a wall - a large wall. Discussions went on about whether it should be a stone wall or a iron fence - but eventually, a voice spoke from the back.

It seems to me that we don't really need a wall - what we need is toilets!

One by one, the church members came around to the idea, and they decided to build toilets facing the street so patrons could relieve themselves in private. Members even volunteered to take shifts cleaning the toilets, in order to keep them used. This being a small church, eventually the need grew so great that most of the church was involved at some point in the night. After some time, this church realized that with so many of them serving at night, that they may as well have their services to coincide with this volunteer project.

And so, they did just that. To this day, the church holds its services at 3am in order to clean the restrooms. By cleaning up the restrooms, they are able to model for their community what Jesus did for them - namely clean up their mess.

It's a nice story, and a great illustration - if its true :) What I couldn't find on Google was reports of any Irish churches with services at 3am and a public toilet ministry. That said, this isn't unreasonable to assume that a ministry would develop this way either - and it wouldn't necessarily be on the church's website.

Is there any evidence, internet or not, of a church in Ireland that holds services in the middle of the night, in order to coincide with a "toilet ministry?"

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  • I don't know about Ireland, but this New York Times article describes two churches in New York City that open their restrooms to the public (especially tourists), which they describe as a "bathroom ministry". So at least this is a thing. Sep 25, 2014 at 0:17
  • As a native, this seems very very unlikely but not utterly impossible. We are an odd people. Pubs have been required to have enough toilets for patrons for a few decades now. Public toilets in churches in Ireland are unusual but there are a few even today. Do you have any other clues to work with such as when you heard the story or when it was supposed to happen or which county or name of priest, town or any pubs ? May 23, 2015 at 16:29

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