COMING OF AGE
Congratulations to the Minister and Members of the
Hillsborough Congregation of the Free Presbyterian Church on their
coming of age.
The fact that in their 21st Anniversary year they
are opening their magnificent new church building speaks for itself.
The Hillsborough Congregation was born in
conflict while my brethren Ivan Foster. John Wylie and I languished
The ecumenical clergy of the area, like the
priests of Rome in the Reformation times, called in the secular
authority to persecute the true Church of Christ.
The Minister of Development, Brian Faulkner and
his officials bent the law in a vain attempt to stop the erection of
a humble meeting house. The official met with a serious accident and
we all know the story of Brian Faulkner, but the Church of Christ
In this day when the world is shadowed and
shrouded with the end time apostasy, God has raised up this church
to stand uncompromisingly for all that God is for and against all
that God is against.
We confront, challenge and condemn doctrinal
apostasy with preaching unflinchingly the great fundamentals, the
'cardinal essentials' as Dr. Chalmers put it, of the verbally
inspired Word of God.
We confront, challenge and condemn the ecumenical
apostasy which is in reality resurgent Romanism and infidel
Protestantism cemented together through the charismatic delusion, by
raising unapologetically the standard of our Protestant and Reformed
Faith and separating from the ecclesiastical entanglement of the
W.C.C., B.C.C., I.C.C. and all other ecumenical amalgams.
'We confront, challenge and condemn the
materialism, secularism and worldliness of today by seeking to walk
worthy of our calling in Christ in the old paths of personal
separation and holiness in conforming to the commandments of God and
not the traditions of men.
We confront, challenge and condemn the coldness
and unbelief among God's people today by continuing to pray for a
great reviving of His Work by the divinely ordained means of the
preaching of the Cross.
We bow to no authority but the Bible.
We acknowledge no priest but our Great High Priest,
the Lord Jesus Christ. We reverence and receive no sacrifice but the
finished work of Calvary.
We urge no plea but the precious Blood of Christ.
We have no message but the Gospel.
Here the Hillsborough Church has stood for the past
twenty-one years. Here it still stands today. We can do nought else,
God helping us. Amen.
Dr. Ian. R.K.
It was the Lord Jesus Christ who said "I will
build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
The history of Hillsborough Free Presbyterian
Church is a story of what Christ the Master Builder has done in the
erection of His Church. Any building project involves heartache,
setbacks and unforeseen difficulties, but a church with a vision
will say like Nehemiah "The God of heaven, he will prosper us;
therefore we his servants will arise and build." Nehemiah 2:20.
The past twenty one years have been a time of
building, battles and blessings. We must never forget, like
Nehemiah, we have enemies who are bitterly opposed to the Separatist
testimony in Ulster, and who would have us "come down" from the
great work that God has called us to do for Him. The Lord has
brought us to the Kingdom for such a time as this, and we must
always be on guard against every form of compromise that would
result in spiritual declension or departure from God's Word.
As minister of the church I would like to pay
tribute to the faithfulness of God's people in the Hillsborough
congregation, who have been `beloved brethren', steadfast,
unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. Perhaps at a
future date, a fuller account will be written of what God has done.
Meanwhile it is my earnest prayer that this short account will be a
"book of remembrance' (Malachi 3:16), used of God to challenge us to
greater things in the days that are before us.
As a church we owe a great debt of gratitude to
our clerk of session, Mr. David Williamson, who, from the beginning
of the work has been an inspiration, not only to myself but to the
I would also pay tribute to the Elders and
Committee, who have carried the burden and have been men of vision
and dedication and have pressed on to see our new church building
A week before our church was opened we suffered
greatly in the sudden death of our brother Jim Carlisle, who went
home to be with Christ, while he was working on the car park of the
Church. Jim was indeed a "workman that needeth not to be ashamed"
when he was called into His Master's presence. He will be greatly
missed, yet we have the comfort of knowing that he is "with Christ
which is far better."
We are indebted to our Moderator, Dr. Paisley,
for his encouragement and guidance over these past twenty one years,
and appreciate all that he has done for us as a congregation.
I would like to thank Mr. David Brown for
undertaking the task of compiling this short history of our church,
and to all those who have helped in supplying information and
photographs we express our sincere thanks in the Saviour's name.
"EXCEPT THE LORD BUILD THE HOUSE,
THEY LABOUR IN VAIN THAT BUILD IT"
The Lord has singularly blessed the separated
testimony of the Free Presbyterian Church and He has surely built
the house from a handful of congregations to an assembly of Churches
throughout the Province, the British Isles, the United States,
Canada and Australia.
In the same way that the Lord has been pleased to
extend the witness abroad, He has also expanded each Individual
Church. Such is the story of Hillsborough Church.
We thank God for His servant, Dr. Paisley, who
has untiringly laboured and earnestly contended for the faith. Dr.
Paisley's enthusiastic interest in all our churches has been an
inspiration, particularly in Hillsborough.
The Church commenced in the Summer of 1966 after
a very successful Gospel Campaign, conducted by Rev. William Beattie
in a tent in a field which is now occupied by the Church. One man,
who had a burden for the souls of men and women in the area, saw his
prayers fulfilled when on July 16th, the tent was erected to begin
the Mission; that man was James McCann.
Over 30 precious souls were gloriously saved at
that Mission and many have continued to this day. Following the
Mission there was a desire expressed for a separated testimony to be
raised in Hillsborough. Before the tent was taken down, a meeting
was held to gauge what support there would be. The indication was
that some 20 communicant members and many friends would from the
nucleus of another Free Presbyterian congregation.
The group were granted the old Edenticullo Band
hut and on September, 18th the first Sunday services were held under
the auspices of the Free Presbyterian Church.
The first Service was attended by some 45 people
and the Lord sealed the preaching of the Word when 2 souls were
saved at the evening service. Over 30 attended the first mid-week
prayer meeting. Mr. Beattie had responsibility for the oversight and
after the new congregation was officially instituted and welcomed at
the October Presbytery, a church committee was elected. A Sunday
School commenced that same month.
The pulpit was occupied by different preachers
and laymen and it was not until April, 1967 that a regular preacher
was found in the person of Mr. Gordon Cooke as the student minister.
The work progressed and an increase was noted in attendance at the
services and at the Sunday School.
The church committee recognised the necessity to
obtain a piece of land on which to erect a portable building
initially and a permanent building eventually. Various sites had
potential for the Church's plans, but the Planning Authority thought
otherwise and matters were frustrated. In December, 1967 the
committee approached the late Matthew Spratt (who with his wife, was
saved in the inaugural mission) to rent a piece of land.
Again the planners rejected the intention to
erect a temporary building. The church committee determined to
proceed contrary to the authorities, who were motivated by politico
ecumenical ideas to thwart the advance of the Gospel. So in March,
1968 the ground was prepared, foundations laid, a hall constructed
and equipped in seven working days.
The first service in the new building was
conducted on Sunday 10th March by a student Mr. Alton Wagner. (Mr.
Cooke had since moved to Rasharkin). The evening service began a
Gospel Campaign conducted by Rev. John Douglas. The eventful month
was also the occasion for a great march of witness. Over 1,500
people gathered to protest against the local Council's decision to
mark a Writ on the congregation to have their hall removed. The
public outcry and the merits of the project, resulted in the Court
action being dropped.
Two days after the protest, a congregational
meeting was convened to issue a call to a student minister. The Rev.
John Douglas chaired the meeting which unanimously invited Mr. Ian
McVeigh to be their student minister.
The Mission, which began on March 10th, lasted 3
weeks and 10 souls were saved. The congregation enjoyed a season of
blessing after the Mission and were further encouraged as Mr.
McVeigh commenced his duties. In mid-April, Mr. Douglas conducted a
special series of meetings on the subject of Scriptural Separation.
Attendance was encouraging and consistent, best of all several new
members were added to the Church.
Within 6 months the work was flourishing well ?
the Sunday School had 87 pupils and 7 teachers ? and the finances
permitted the purchase of the first minibus.
The virtue of patience was exercised once more in
1969 when the Church expressed interest in purchasing a site in
Lisburn Street. The planning application was turned down, but
notwithstanding this set-back, the congregation continued to prosper
and enjoy the smile of God in their endeavours. The following year
the Church's first student, Harry Cairns, entered the Theological
Hall to study for the Ministry.
In 1971 the congregation was able to purchase a
manse, in Lisburn, and Mr. McVeigh became the first occupant. During
February, Church business was concentrated on further endeavours to
achieve planning permission, this time for a one acre site, which
Mr. Anderson had agreed to sell for ?1,500. The planners responded
by laying down certain stipulations about the position of the
proposed building on the site and the provision of an adequate car
park. The committee were thus able to instruct McCready Architects
to draw up plans for the new building.
By September that year, Mr. McVeigh had
successfully completed his studies in the Theological Hall, and
remained as student minister until he received a call from Coleraine
Congregation to be their minister.
The Band Hall at Edenticullo ? the first
meeting place of Hillsborough Free Presbyterian Church.
The New Church Building
Members of Session and Committee with
guests at the laying of the Foundation Stone Ceremony
15th June 1985
Childrens' Day Choir
1972 was another of those busy and eventful
years. By April 8th, preparations were ready for the sod-cutting
ceremony by the Moderator, Dr. Paisley. Rev. W. Beattie and Rev. J.
Douglas also took part in the service. Then on July 5th, the
foundation stone was truly laid by the Moderator. A special offering
raised over ?3,100, and in the next 12 months, ?7,000 was taken up
for the Building Fund. Meanwhile, the Rev. McVeigh had received a
call to the Coleraine Church, and the vacancy was filled when Mr.
Stanley Barnes accepted a call to be the minister. Rev. Barnes was
installed in October, 1972, as the first minister.
As the building work progressed, the church
committee were concerned that the financial commitment would not
become a financial burden. Prudent management and faithful giving by
God's people ensured that the Building Fund rose to ?9,129 by June,
1973 and to ? 12,000 by the end of the year, plus ?4,000 in interest
June 22, 1974 was a memorable day for the church
? the day had arrived for the opening of the New Church. The event
was reported thus in the "Ulster
OPENING OF NEW CHURCH BUILDING
"Them church is set in very pleasant rural
surroundings and the interior is reminiscent of the old-style
Covenanting Meeting House, but has all modern facilities, combined
with a bright and airy atmosphere.
The service began appropriately with the singing
of the 23rd Psalm and this was followed with prayer by Rev. John
Douglas, who for a considerable time was senior minister of the
The scripture reading was by Rev. C. Menary and
the soloist was Mrs. Elizabeth Haffey. The organist was Miss
The church secretary, Mr. D. Williamson, referred
to the transformation which had taken place with the provision of a
new church, something which was in sharp contrast to the portable
He welcomed the Moderator of the Free
Presbyterian Church and also Rev. William Beattie, who had just
returned from a visit to the United States."
"The minister of the church, Rev. Stanley Barnes,
who presided, welcomed Dr. and Mrs. Paisley and members of their
family and also ministers of the Presbytery. Included in his words
of gratitude to all who had helped towards the fulfilment of their
ambitions in a new church, was the mention of Mr. and Mrs. James
Anderson, who had provided the site and Mr. Matthew Spratt for use
of the site for the portable hall.
"Dr. Paisley said he was very happy to be in
Hillsborough and to have the opportunity of preaching the Word of
God for the first time in that building. He congratulated the
minister, committee and members of the congregation for the
magnificent job they had done. 'This building,' he said, 'is a
credit to them and an honour to the Gospel we preach and the faith
Dr. Paisley said that this church had opened its
doors for the preaching of the Blood of Christ and that God had
ordained that this building should be here. Referring to the
'blessed unity' of the people of God, he said the new church stood
as a testimony to the fact that nothing could stop the onward march
of God's people."
Dr. Paisley's words were to prove prophetic, as
we shall see later in this account.
The congregation had now a permanent home but it
was acknowledged by the congregation that they had not arrived to
sit still and be content. It was realised that now was the time to
move forward, to consolidate, to build on the foundation "which is
Rev. S. Barnes's teaching and preaching was at
all times faithful to the Book. The Word of God occupied and still
occupies the central place in the worship of the people of God and
also the preaching of the Gospel. God's people were strengthened in
the faith and many precious souls were gloriously saved as the Word
The Church committee were always conscious of
their responsibilities and management; they oversaw the removal of
the debt incured in the completion of the church. They also could
see Dr. Paisley's prophetic words fulfilled before their eyes; the
church had been designed to accommodate 350 comfortably and also
provide facilities for the Sabbath School.
Not many years had passed when attendances
exceeded the accommodation and the Sabbath School had expanded. The
dual need for extra accommodation was to be solved in a unique way.
Thoughts of building a Sunday School complex were superseded by the
idea of building a second church. No other Free Presbyterian
congregation had taken such a bold step of faith.
Plans were drawn up to build a new church and to
convert the original church into a youth complex. Work commenced in
March 1984 and the sod-cutting ceremony was held in April that year.
The financial responsibility was willingly borne by God's people and
in 1984, the Annual income was just over 62,000 (a 20% increase on
the previous year).
On 15th June 1985 the foundation stones for the
New church were laid.
Since then the work of construction and furnishing
has gone on to complete the 750 seater church as a preaching house.
The facilities also include a cr?he, balcony, recording studio, a
baptismal tank and a large kitchen.
There is an explanation for the rapid growth of
the Hillsborough Church. Under the ministry of Mr. Barnes the church
has sought to be an evangelical, soul winning church. Further, the
congregation has grown spiritually under Mr. Barnes's guidance and
leadership. The minister's wife also greatly contributes to the work
of the church through her consistent working behind the scenes with
the other ladies of the congregation and the manse door is always
open to the members of the congregation, which is noted for its
warmth, friendliness and fellowship.
How good is the God we adore!
Our faithful, unchangeable friend:
His love is as great as his power
And knows neither measure nor end.
For Christ is the first and the last;
His Spirit will guide us safe home:
We'll praise him for all that is past
Arid trust him for all that's to come.