THE PRESENT -
In the summer of 1996 the Session felt that the
time was right to proceed with a Communicants Meeting to issue a
Call. The date for the meeting was set for Tuesday 24th September. A
number of names were placed before the congregation that evening and
the result was a call in favour of Mr Ian Kenny, who was the
Assistant Minister in Ballymena Free Presbyterian Church. Mr Kenny
accepted the Call at the following Presbytery and the Ordination
Service was planned for Tuesday 19th November 1996.
Those who took part in the Ordination and
A number of local papers carried the following
Another Milestone in the History of Dromore Free
Dromore Free Presbyterian Church reached
another milestone in its history when over 350 people attended the
Ordination and Installation Service of Mr Ian Kenny. Rev. William
Whiteside, Banbridge, who served as Interim Moderator to the Dromore
congregation during their time without a minister, presided at the
There were many ministers present and the
congregation also included visitors from Martyrs Memorial Church
where Mr Kenny was a member. Also represented was Ballymena where
the new Dromore minister served as an Assistant for a year. Students
of the Whitefield College of the Bible were present.
Psalm 103, "0 thou my soul bless God the
Lord," was chosen as the opening praise after which Rev. Andrew
Patterson ofArdaragh prayed for God's blessing upon the service and
for the new minister as he commences his labours in the town. Rev.
David Priestley, who had ministered in Dromore for over 10 years
before moving on to Clogher Valley, read the Scriptures. Rev. Graeme
Clark, Carryduff, the last ordained minister in the church,
preached. Mr Clarke took as his text 2 Samuel 5v24, "And let it be,
when thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry
trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the LORD
go out before thee, to smite the host of the Philistines." From this
verse the preacher drew three points asking the congregation to
note, the Indication to be Observed, the Instruction to Obey and the
Following the sermon, Rev. James Beggs,
Ballymena, acting Clerk of Presbytery put the prescribed questions
to the minister elect who, having answered, subscribed to the
Westminster Confession of Faith. The Presbytery of Ulster then
ordained Mr Kenny to the Christian Ministry and installed him as
minister of the Dromore congregation.
The Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church,
Rev. Dr Ian R K Paisley, led in prayer before giving the charge to
the new minister. Dr Paisley drew attention to the words of Psalm
104v4 where the Psalmist, speaking of the LORD said, "Who maketh his
angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire. " Concentrating on the
latter part of the verse, the Moderator referred to numerous verses
of Scripture which mention fire. He emphasised how the ministers of
the LORD are aflaming fire, the Master Himself is a consuming fire,
Hebrews12v29, the message of God's Word is a fire, Jeremiah 23v29
and how the Master's feet are said to burn as in a furnace,
After the Moderator had spoken, Mr Kenny was
asked to give a brief testimony during which he told how he became a
Christian and entered the Whitefield College of the Bible. He
prepared there for the work which he believed God had called him to
do. Mr Kenny thanked the Dromore congregation for extending the Call
to be their minister.
In reply, Clerk of Session, Mr Aubrey
Malcomson, welcomed the new minister into the area and expressed on
behalf of the congregation good wishes for the future.
Rev. John Armstrong, Tullyvallen, who studied
at Bible College with Mr Kenny, closed the meeting in prayer after
the singing of Fanny Crosby's hymn, "To God be the Glory."
Rev. Ian. Kenny pictured with his wife Heather
and children, Bethany, Cherith and Jordan.
With the encouragement and support of God's
people Rev. Kenny and his family have settled well into the town and
they have now entered their fourth year in Dromore. Each year has
been crowned with blessing, not only has his own family been
increasing numerically but there has been a steady rise in
attendance especially on the Lord's Day. The Lord's Day morning
service would have an average of 120 with around 60-70 coming at
night for the Gospel Service. Right through the Children's Work,
Sabbath School, Youth Fellowship and Prayer Meeting we can thank God
for evidence of His grace. As well as the remaining founding
members, the congregation presently consists of many young families
and with new additions arriving on a regular basis the work
certainly has great potential and prospects for the future.
With the congregation increasing it was necessary
to enlarge the size of the Session and in 1998 it was to be
strengthened with the addition of two new Ruling Elders. Mr Gilbert
English and Mr Paul Haffey were elected by the Communicant Members.
In conjunction with the election of Elders an election of Committee
took place. The present committee now consists of former members: Mr
Brian Biggerstaff, Mr John Brown and Mr Ivan McMurray and two new
additional members, Mr Campbell Gibson and Mr David Scott. Those who
had served in previous Committees over the years were: Mr Maurice
Dawson, Mr Oswald Ogle, Mr Henry Purdy, Mr David Somerville and Mr
The Ordination Service for the new Elders took
place on Tuesday 30th June 1998. Dr John Douglas preached the
ordination sermon bringing a challenge to the Session and the
congregation on the responsibility of the Ruling Elder. Reverends
William Whiteside, David Priestley and Kenneth Elliott also
participated in the service which was attended by friends and family
of the two men.
Pictured at the Ordination of new Elders are,
front, from left : Paul Haffey, Rev. Kenny and
Gilbert English. Back, from left : Rev. David Priestley, Rev. Ken
Elliott, Dr John Douglas
and Rev. William Whiteside.
Friday Night Children's Meeting ?
Report by John and Avril Brown
In 1987 we were approached by Rev. David
Priestley concerning the leadership of the Children's Meeting.
Knowing that we were not sufficient of ourselves for this task but
that our sufficiency is of God, we undertook to do the work. (2 Cor
Meetings then were held in the old church
building, where the seed was faithfully sown each Friday night.
Average attendance was between 60-80 children, with numbers up to 94
on some evenings.
In those earlier days the church owned a blue
Bedford minibus, boys and girls were packed in, with a helper on
duty to man the back door. Then the need arose for a larger vehicle
which was purchased from Moneyslane congregation. On one particular
Tuesday evening when an Elder arrived at the church for the Prayer
Meeting, he noticed the bus missing. Later we discovered that the
bus had been stolen and never recovered. But the Lord had something
better for us, this time a coach was provided from the Tandragee
Church. This bus was securely housed under lock and key in the late
Robert Graham's farmyard. The expenses incurred and the upkeep of
having a church bus led to the introduction of Translink Services
which has proved to be satisfactory.
Some of the workers are foundation members of the
church, others have more recently joined us and we thank God for
each dedicated and faithful helper, for we are labourers together
with God. (1 Cor 3v9).
At present about 40 children of the younger age
group faithfully attend the meetings, almost half this number belong
to the congregation. We are encouraged to write a report at this
time as some of the boys and girls who attend now are the off-spring
of children who attended in previous days.
Above : Some of the workers from the Friday
night's Children's Meeting.
Below : Some of the children.
We rejoice over names that have been written in the Lamb's Book of
Life and give God the glory for His faithfulness, help and blessing.
Finally, we are reminded of how short our time is
with the children and how we must work while it is day: the night
cometh when no man can work. John 9v4.
Young Peoples Fellowship ?
Report by Robin Ward
The Young People's Fellowship originally
commenced during Rev. David Priestley's time in Dromore. Although
the numbers were small we still had good meetings and tried to
encourage the young people to take part. Some of those young people
are today involved in different aspects of the work of God in the
church proving the truth of the Scriptures, "My Word shall not
return unto me void."
At that time also the young people had days away
to Ayr. Some others from the church joined us. Although we had an
early start it did not seem to dampen the spirits and there was
always plenty of fun and fellowship.
At present the Young People's work is going well.
Most Friday nights there would be an average attendance of 20 at our
meetings. Friday nights vary with visiting speakers, testimonies or
visits to meetings in different churches. This gives opportunity to
meet and mix with youth of like precious faith.
Once a month, on a Saturday evening, we visit the
Leisure Centre in Dromore and engage in a number of recreational
activities. This has proved to be very successful with the young
people and even the not so young. The young people certainly use the
opportunity to burn off some of their boundless energy.
The highlight of our calendar must be the Youth
Weekend. This always generates good interest with visits to Bangor
in 1998 and Downhill in 1999. We have enjoyed great times of
fellowship with our young people on these weekends. Meeting together
around God's Word in this fashion not only draws the young people
closer to each other but more importantly closer to the Lord.
Some of those who went on a day trip to
Ayr in the early days.
The Youth Fellowship pictured in 1999.
Our desire for our young people is that they will
be grounded in the word of God. That those who are already saved may
seek God's will for their lives as they would leave school and enter
into further education or employment. For those who are not saved
that the Lord will truly do a saving work within these young lives.
We realise that there are many sins and allurements the devil would
dangle before our young people. Pray with us that the Lord would
help them to "withstand" and having done all to "stand." We need to
see this generation of young people reached with the truth of God's
Word and brought into the work of God in the days that lie ahead.
Who knows we could have a great preacher or missionary in our
Sabbath School ?
Report by Frank Blakely
"The time is short" ... so said the Apostle Paul,
and nowhere is that more true than in the Sunday School, where a
precious three quarters of an hour each Lord's Day is available to
reach boys and girls in this work.
Dromore Free Presbyterian Sabbath School
commenced in September 1976 when one of the church's founder
members, Mr Brian Biggerstaff superintended the first classes, which
were then held in The Legion Hall, Dromore. The Student Minister at
that time, Mr Tim Donaghy, was in charge of the pastorate. Mr Brian
Biggerstaff continued faithfully in that role until 1990. By God's
grace over the years the work steadily grew, and in March 1980 the
Bible Class was added, placed under the care of Mr Robert Skelton, a
current Session member. To this day Mr Skelton continues in that
position, assisted by Mr Gilbert English, also a Session member.
Mr Skelton recalls that in March 1980 he had five
pupils in the Bible Class, four members of the Dawson family who are
now connected to Hillsborough Free Presbyterian Church and Mr Samuel
Ogle who still resides locally. Whilst Mr Skelton has disclosed the
identity of that first class they will probably be happy enough that
he has not revealed their ages!
One of the Junior
Classes with their teacher.
The Sunday School and Bible Class ? March
Outreach for the expanding Sunday School was soon
facilitated by the provision of a small minibus which was soon to
give way to a much bigger one as growth continued. Today Ulsterbus
is contracted for the work with a member of the congregation, Mr Jim
McCauley, overseeing this aspect and ensuring a rota of faithful
helpers each Sunday morning on the bus, without whom the work simply
could not be sustained. Our grateful thanks to each one.
The total children and young persons on the roll
currently stands at 52, with eleven dedicated teachers, namely; Mrs
P. Malcomson, Mrs V. McMurray, Mrs D. Scott, Mrs A. Poots, Mrs C.
Ward, Mrs R. McCauley, Mrs D. Baxter, Mrs A. Brown, Mr F. Blakely
(Superintendent). Including the Bible Class teachers earlier
Our desire is that in the will of God the work
would continue to expand. Dromore is a rapidly growing town
residentially and truly "The harvest is great. " We have embarked on
a very encouraging start in the year 2000 with evidence of stirrings
amongst the children, how good it is to hear of even the very young
accepting Christ as Saviour. Prayer changes things and believing
that implicitly, one Tuesday night each month is set aside to
petition God especially for the boys and girls throughout the
To teachers, helpers, parents and all those in
our congregation we owe a debt of thanks, but it is to the Creator
alone we must say, "To God be the Glory great things He has done."
Organist for 25 years
Ever since the beginning of the work in the
Legion Hall the church has been blessed with the talents of Mrs
Isabel Ferguson a gifted organist. A founder member of the work
Isabel has been playing now for the whole 25 years. In that time
Isabel has hardly missed a note never mind a service on the Lord's
Day. Her faithfulness and ability on the organ is deeply appreciated
by the congregation. Dromore is renowned for good singing and this
is due in no small way to the accompaniment of our sister.
Mrs Ferguson is ably assisted by Mrs Christine
Ward and other members of the congregation are only too willing to
help when the need arises. Some of our young people are also showing
good signs of progress on the organ and God willing this will ensure
that the note of praise will continue to be sounded out from Dromore
for many years to come.
While Isabel is camera shy we still managed to
get our hands on two photographs, one from the past and another from
the present. The picture of the young looking organist was taken
from the Belfast Telegraph when Isabel was eight years old. The
paper records Isabel passing her first music exam.
Robert Skelton has been the Treasurer of the church since June 1978,
a job he has carried out with the utmost dedication. Today he has
the help of two assistants, Mr Gilbert English and Mr Campbell
It is encouraging just to trace the way that God
has blessed the work financially. God's people in Dromore have
certainly given faithfully over the years and with the steady rise
in numbers the offerings have also substantially increased. Mention
must also be made of individuals and neighbouring churches who
helped financially over the years. Banbridge Free Presbyterian
Church, the mother church of Dromore, gave a very substantial
interest free loan during the building programme which helped
The very first Statement of Accounts was
published in 1979 with the total income standing at just over
?11,000. Last year (1999) the figure stood at over ?68,000. This
however was an exceptional year as the church received a legacy from
the estate of a founding member, Mrs Margaret McClenaghan and as
well as that a special offering was taken up to cover the expense of
surfacing the car park. The Harvest Sunday was set aside as our
special Gift Sunday and on that one day alone well over ?9,000 was
The parking area is now complete and the
Committee have again looked to the future with the proposal to build
a new Church Manse. Some years ago a site had been kindly donated by
the late Mr Black of Rowantree Road. It is a beautifully positioned
site sitting above the Al Dual Carriageway with a view that
stretches from the Dromara Hills to the Mourne Mountains. The
Committee knew from past experience that obtaining planning
permission may not be straightforward. However in answer to prayer,
permission has been granted by the authorities. It is therefore
hoped that this 25th Anniversary year could see the completion of a
manse to the glory of God.
A week of special meetings have been planned in
the Will of God for April 2000 to mark 25 years of Gospel witness in
Dromore. Reverend Reggie Cranston, who presently ministers in Port
Hope, Canada, has been invited to be the special speaker. The theme
for the week will be, `Saved to Serve'. We trust it will be a time
when God's people will be stirred in their hearts to serve the Lord
with even greater zeal in the days that lie ahead.
The evidence is before us that the work of God in
Dromore continues to prosper.
The end is not yet and the best is yet to be
PRAISE THE LORD!
Smylie writes .. .
congratulations to Dromore Free Presbyterian Church on your 25th
Anniversary. It seems such a short time since I was placed as a
Student in the congregation. The congregation at that time had no
building of its own. We met in the British Legion hall and many a
Lord's Day morning before the Sunday School commenced we had to
clear away the booze bottles in the hall as the boys and girls came
in to hear the word of God. We remember with fondness those
early days. Numbers were small but there was a real spirit of prayer
among the people. These were great times of prayer in the little
room behind the platform in the British Legion Hall. The Tuesday
evening Prayer Meetings were a great source of encouragement to us
and to all the people of God there in those days. The hall was
especially cold during the Winter evenings but the folk attended
faithfully those weekly Prayer Meetings and business was done with
God at the Throne of Grace. Prayers were answered and we had the joy
of pointing souls to Christ in the meetings and in visitation work.
We can recall a Tent Mission held in the town during our time there
? great meetings ? and at the end of the Mission the tent was blown
down in the storm! Also we had a Mission in Kinallen Orange Hall for
some 5 weeks ? these meetings were really well attended and souls
sought the Lord. To God be the Glory!
During the time we spent in Dromore the site on
the Banbridge Road, where the temporary building was erected, was
purchased and work had commenced on the site and on the building
before we left to take up the ministry in Coragarry, Co. Monaghan.
We thank God for the progress of the work in the town of Dromore
over the years, for the new building, for the salvation of souls,
the restoration of backsliders, the strengthening of the people of
God and in recent years for the ministry of Rev. Ian Kenny seeing
the work of God further established for the glory and honour of the
We earnestly pray for Rev. Kenny, his wife and
family, for the Session, Committee and congregation of Dromore Free
Presbyterian Church in the days which lie ahead that revival
blessing may be their portion. Psalm 126v5-6, "They that sow in
tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing
precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing bringing
his sheaves with him."
Priestley writes .. .
is with great joy and thanksgiving that I write these few words on
the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the witness in Dromore.
On the 29th June 1980, having completed my first
year as a student in the Theological Hall I was placed by the Presbytery in Dromore. Combining the
preparation for the pulpit, the visitation of the sick and the
studies for the Theological Hall was not easy. Indeed I found it
most demanding. However the congregation was very understanding and
tolerant with its young raw student.
The work in those days was relatively small and
it was difficult to see others brought under the sound of the
Gospel. Generally the same people turned up week by week. I recall
their steadfastness, their wholehearted dedication to the Lord's
cause at the Millturn. How I appreciated all the encouragement they
gave to me. I fondly remember those who have finished the course,
who have gone home to be with the Lord whom their souls loved.
Having concluded my studies for the ministry in
June 1983, the congregation issued a Call to me in the Autumn of
that year. On Tuesday 29th November I was ordained and installed by
the Presbytery. Though the work was small the faithful band did not
lack enthusiasm; the fire of evangelistic zeal burned brightly with
Gospel missions being held regularly on the outskirts of the town
and in the surrounding countryside. I recall missions at places such
as Holm Terrace, Ashfield, Listullycurran, Drumnaferry, Skeogh,
Leapoughs and others held in the church building. The standard was
raised on such issues as Sunday opening and new licences being
granted to liquor premises.
As time passed, planning approval for the
temporary building was extended and extended until the patience of
the officials wore thin. The congregation was on the horns of a
dilemma; wanting to erect a permanent building but not having an
adequate site. The owner of the land adjacent was willing to sell a
further strip which would have solved the problem, but the ground
was zoned for playing fields. A battle royal was fought with the
Planning Office eventually leading to a planning appeal which was
lost. We were unable at that point to see the way ahead. The Lord
who knows the end from the beginning and who is able to do exceeding
abundantly above all that we ask or think was still on the Throne.
God has done great things for the congregation,
He has prospered His own cause in your hands. What a fine site you
have today with its beautiful building and ever growing
congregation. I say of the church in Dromore as Paul said of the
church in Philippi. "I thank my God upon every remembrance of
you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with
joy. For your fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now;
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good
work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
(Philippians 1:3-6). Brethren and sisters, the end is not yet and as
we read in Job 8:7 "Though thy beginning was small, yet thy
latter end should greatly increase."
May the branches of your witness for the Lord Jesus
Christ run over the wall and bear much fruit to His glory.
Whiteside writes .. .
gives me the greatest possible pleasure to write a few words of
congratulations to the congregation of Dromore on the completion of
twenty five years of faithful Gospel witness and to wish them God's
richest blessing for the years ahead.
My memories of the work in Dromore go back to the
earliest days when I had the privilege of preaching for the
fledgling congregation when they met in the British Legion Hall and
I also had the joy of being the preacher at the first gospel mission
which marked the opening of the temporary building at the Millturn.
In April 1991 I was appointed Interim Moderator
of the congregation by the Presbytery following the departure of
their minister the Reverend David Priestley to take up his duties in
his new pastorate in the Clogher Valley. I was to hold this post for
four and a half years in all during which time a close bond and
friendship was formed between the congregation and myself.
It is with much pleasure that I reflect on those
years of fellowship and I count it an honour to have shared with the
congregation in the good times and the bad times.
One of the bad times was when we were informed
that the local authorities were not going to renew permission to
allow the congregation to remain in their temporary building. We had
to build a new church or find other accommodation. The problem was
they would not give us permission to build the size of church we
wanted to build because the site was not big enough to have an
adequate car park. So the pressure was on to find a new site and
also the funds to buy it.
One of the good times was when the present site
of the church became available to us and we were able to purchase it
and begin the process of building the new church. This involved many
a late night, early morning committee meeting not to mention a
severe trial of our faith. But our God is faithful and as the work
progressed the funds came in. It was a source of great delight to
visit the site and watch the new building go up stage by stage.
Words cannot express the joy that filled our hearts when our new
church home was complete and the opening services took place.
My services as Interim Moderator came to a close
with the installation of the Reverend Fred Buick as minister of the
church. However Mr Buick after a short pastorate was called back to
Australia and once again I was appointed by Presbytery as Interim
Moderator. The search was now on to find a new minister to shepherd
the flock. After long search and much prayer the Lord led the
congregation to call their present minister, the Reverend Ian Kenny
to take up the work. Mr Kenny and his family soon settled in to
their new sphere of service and it was not long before they had
endeared themselves to the hearts of the people.
Memory is a very precious gift from God and I
will treasure these memories of my time with the congregation as
long as I shall live. These were precious years of rich blessing but
bless the Lord the end is not yet and we are sure that the best is
yet to be. May the Lord bless you as a congregation and the labours
of your minister Mr Kenny in the days ahead.
Office Bearers in this 25th Anniversary Year
Rev. Ian Kenny
Mr Frank Blakely, Mr Gilbert English, Mr Paul
Haffey, Mr Aubrey Malcomson (Clerk),
Mr Robert Skelton (Treasurer).
Mr John Brown, Mr Brian Biggerstaff,
Mr Campbell Gibson, Mr Ivan McMurray,
Mr David Scott (Secretary).
Sunday School Superintendent:
Mr Frank Blakely.
Mr Robin Ward.
Leaders of Children's Meeting:
Mr & Mrs John Brown.
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