THIS Christmas Eve will be even more special
than normal at Hillhall Presbyterian Church. For it will mark
the retirement of the Rev Jack Richardson after nearly a quarter
of a century of service to the church.
At a special Christmas family service, Mr
Richardson will bid his loyal congregation farewell after
serving them for 24 and a half years.
The County Tyrone man was installed in
Hillhall on June 4 1982 after previously being based in Carland
During his ministry a new suite of halls was
opened in May 1987 and a manse in 1995. But in November 1999 the
church halls were destroyed in an arson attack.
However, the resilience of the church was
shown then just three years later magnificent new halls were
re-opened at a cost of ill million.
Mr Richardson, 64, said it will be a "wrench
to leave" when he officially retires at the end of the month.
"It has been a great privilege to have been
welcomed into both the homes and hearts of the people, but I am
looking forward to taking life a little easier" he said.
"My wife Sally will retire from her teaching
job in the new year and I certainly won't be twiddling my
thumbs", he explained.
"I am a keen walker and have a great love for
playing the piano and organ and I do enjoy reading.
"We are moving to Culcavy so there will be
lots to keep me busy and I will still continue my Chaplain role
at Lagan Valley Hospital." Asked how a changing society has
affected the church Mr Richardson said that more people were
coming to church morning and evening despite society becoming
"more secular and materialistic."
He also said that the number of young people
going to his church was declining due to high house prices in
"As house prices rise young families are
moving away as they simply can't afford to buy homes here."
The church will be left in the care of
Reverend Adrian McLernon, Minister of Drumbo Church, until a new
Minister is appointed.
"I feel it is time for me to step aside to
allow someone with new ideas and lots of energy to take over",
explained Mr Richardson. "I would like to thank my family and
friends who have supported me over the years and also John
Connery, the Clerk of Session, deserves a special mention too.
"I thank God for my good health and for being
able to serve the congregation. I will leave with a heavy heart.
It has been a huge privilege to work with such lovely people."
Compiled by Jenny Monroe (Ulster Star).