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Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland


St Colman�s Parish Church, Dunmurry celebrates its centenary
St Colman�s Parish Church, Dunmurry Consecrated on 25th April 1908 John Williams Centenary Committee chairperson
St Colman�s Parish Church, Dunmurry
Consecrated on 25th April 1908
John Williams
Centenary Committee chairperson

St Colman�s Parish Church, Dunmurry, celebrates its centenary this month with a weekend of special events preceding the institution of a new rector.

Centenary dinner
A centenary dinner takes place in the Beechlawn Hotel on Friday 25th April. Special guests are the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, Bishop of Connor; the Very Rev Dr Houston McKelvey, Dean of Belfast, who served his first curacy in St Colman�s; and former rectors Canon Terry Rodgers and the Rev Mike McCann. The speaker at the dinner is Mr John Williams, parish reader and chairperson of the Centenary Committee.

The committee has also organised an exhibition to mark 100 years of this beautiful church, and this will run from 10am-4pm on Friday 25th, Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th in the parochial hall, with an official opening by the Bishop of Connor at 10.00am on Saturday. The exhibition features photographs, letters and other memorabilia chronicling life in the parish over the last century.

Centenary Service
Bishop Abernethy will celebrate a service of Holy Communion in St Colman�s at 9.30am on Sunday and the special Centenary Service will take place at 11.30am. The preacher is the former Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland, Lord Robin Eames. Among the guests will be Lisburn Mayor, Councillor James Tinsley. Light refreshments will be provided after the service.

Centenary Booklet
A Centenary Booklet has been published, and this includes a foreword by Mr Williams, and a history of the church by Canon Terry Rodgers, based on an original article by former rector the Rev Cannon R C Ellis. For those interested in statistics, Dr Bob Common delves into the records and makes some interesting observations on births, deaths, marriages and more.

The people of the hamlet of Dunmurry first worshipped in a building known as the Assembly Rooms, constructed in 1874 and in use today as the Parochial Hall. But they wanted a Church of Ireland in the village. They secured a site on the main Belfast-Lisburn road, but this may have affected the congregation of Upper Falls so they bought the current site from the Northern Bank. The Bishop of the Diocese gave his consent, and building began. The consecration, by the Rt Rev John Baptist Crozier, Lord Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore, took place on St Mark�s Day, 25th April 2008. Canon Ellis was appointed curate-in-charge and was made rector in 1945. Following his retirement, he was succeeded in turn by Canon Terry Rodgers, the Rev Mike McCann, and the Rev Tom Priestly. In recent years a movement of parishioners out of Dunmurry has led to a reduction in the number of young people and the closure of the Girls� Friendly Society and Church Lads� Brigade. Although the congregation is also smaller, the choir, Mothers� Union, Sunday School and Bowling Club still flourish as do the new Luncheon Group and Working Group. As there are always maintenance issues, a Centenary Fund was launched this year with the aim of raising �26,000 for renovations.

New rector
The incumbency of St Colman�s has been vacant since the death of the Rev Priestly in August last year. On Thursday 1st May, the Rev Denise Acheson, curate assistant at Ballyholme Parish, Bangor, will be instituted as rector. The mother-of-three said she was very much looking forward to moving to Dunmurry. �I am excited but I am also terrified,� she admitted. �I pray that God, through all my experiences with Alan (Bishop of Connor and former rector of Ballyholme) and on my own in the parish will prepare me more for moving on to the next stage.�

Looking forward to the weekend events, the Centenary Committee chairperson said he hoped the celebrations would continue throughout the year. �I can remember the 75th anniversary of the church and never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be playing such an important role in the 100th anniversary celebrations,� said Mr Williams. �This anniversary is a new beginning in many aspects. The church is 100-years-old. When you talk about a church you are not just talking about a building, but the people who worship and work in it. We are very much looking forward to the arrival of the new rector.�