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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 May 2007, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
NI prayers for missing Madeleine
Woman praying in Belfast church
People attended a service to pray for the missing child
Churches in east Belfast have joined in prayers for the safe return of missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann.

Stormont Presbyterian Church on the Upper Newtownards Road hosted the prayer service for the missing youngster.

Ministers from Knock Methodist Church, St Mark's Church of Ireland, St Colmcilles's Catholic and Stormont Presbyterian led the prayers.

Madeleine was abducted from her bed in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on 3 May.

Reverend Warwick Smart, of Stormont Presbyterian Church, said: "Everyone in the community has been shocked by Maddy's abduction and the realisation that this type of thing is something that happens far more often than we realised.

"As Christians we believe that prayer is a very powerful way through which we can offer help and support to Maddy, her family and all who are suffering in similar situations."

The move comes a day after police issued a description of a man seen walking close to her apartment on the night she disappeared.

Gerry McCann said he and his wife Kate welcomed the release of the information by the Portuguese police.

Last picture of Madeleine McCann
Madeleine McCann has been missing for three weeks

He said the sighting of a man "with what appeared to be a child in his arms" was both "significant and relevant to Madeleine's abduction".

The man is said to be white, 5ft 10ins, medium build with short hair.

He was seen on the night Madeleine was taken from the Praia da Luz apartment in the Algarve, Portugal.

Portuguese police went public with the description of the man seen on the night after pressure from the McCann family to move the investigation on.

In a statement made to the press, Mr McCann said he and his wife welcomed the release of the "important" information which had come following an amicable and very constructive meeting with Portuguese police.

The McCanns have told the BBC of their guilt at not being with their daughter when she was abducted.

They said they were experiencing "every parent's worst nightmare" and loved her "more than anyone could imagine".


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