Tributes to 'gentleman' Reverend John Anderson following sudden death at 46 from Covid
A CO Antrim Church of Ireland clergyman who died just a week after contracting coronavirus at the age of 46 has been remembered as a "gentle soul".
Reverend John Anderson passed away in Causeway Hospital in Coleraine on Saturday morning.
The father-of-three was rector of Billy and Derrykeighan for 16 years, having previously been appointed to the parish of Ballymena and Ballyclug in September 2002.
His sudden death led to a flood of tributes yesterday, with the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev George Davison, describing him as "warm-hearted individual" who was a faithful pastor.
"John Anderson’s death has come as a terrible shock to us all. Just as many people were beginning to believe that Covid was on the retreat, it has robbed us of one of the most likeable people,” he said.
"John’s whole life has been one of service to Christ and his church.
"He will be missed by so many people, but none more so than his wife Eleanor and their precious children. They, and John’s mother and the wider family, are uppermost in my thoughts and prayers at this time."
In a statement, the Diocese of Connor confirmed Rev Anderson had fallen ill a week ago and his death was due to Covid-19.
"Despite the careful support of the medical staff of the Causeway Hospital, Coleraine, passed away in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital," the diocese said.
Church services were cancelled yesterday in Billy and Derrykeighan as a mark of respect to the Anderson family.
Health minister Robin Swann paid tribute on social media, posting: "One of the Lord's true gentlemen and a great loss, to family, friends and community."
Before ordination, he studied at Queen’s University Belfast prior to Trinity College, Dublin, and the Church of Ireland Theological College.
Rev Willie Nixon from Drumbeg Parish, who was a fellow student, added: "This is sad and shocking news. John was a quiet and decent man. I knew him as a third year during my first year at Trinity. He was a gentle man of deep faith and genuine Christian conviction. Prayers are being said for Eleanor and the children."
Fr Martin Magill, a parish priest from St John on the Falls road in west Belfast, also posted: "This is so sad. May he indeed rest in God's peace".
Christian bookshop owner Richard Ryan also knew him: "So deeply saddened by this news. John was such a gentle soul and I'll remember him with much fondness. Thoughts and prayers with Eleanor and their children."