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Dromore Free Presbyterian Church
25th Anniversary




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 Installation service.

A number of local papers carried the following report ?

Another Milestone in the History of Dromore Free Presbyterian Church.

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 service.

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 Inspiration Offered.

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, Revelation 1v15.

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 Robin Ward.

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 3 v5).

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 fellowship.

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 2000.

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 mentioned.

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 teaching season.

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.


Mr 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 Gibson.

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 immensely.

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 raised.

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.

Anniversary Services

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


Reverend Alan Smylie writes .. .

Reverend Alan SmylieWarmest 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 Lord!

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."


Reverend David Priestley writes .. .

Reverend David PriestleyIt 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.


Reverend William Whiteside writes .. .

Reverend William WhitesideIt 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).

Committee :

Mr John Brown, Mr Brian Biggerstaff,
Mr Campbell Gibson, Mr Ivan McMurray,
Mr David Scott (Secretary).

Sunday School Superintendent:

Mr Frank Blakely.

Youth Leader

Mr Robin Ward.

Leaders of Children's Meeting:
Mr & Mrs John Brown.


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