UP TO DATE
1952 - 1981
REV. F. L. McCONNELL
The congregation did not
have long to wait for their new minister. The Rev. F. L. McConnell was
installed in April 1952. Born in 1905 Mr. McConnell was a voluntary worker
in the Church at an early age. Following in the footsteps of his father
and grandfather, who were elders before him, he was ordained as a ruling
elder in Cliftonville Church.
He went into business, but was also led to
take up the course at Assembly's College for the training of lay agents.
He was licensed as such by the Presbytery of Belfast and became lay
assistant in Fisherwick, with charge of Laganvale Hall, and he later acted
in this capacity in Joymount, Carrickfergus. He found time at first to
study part-time at Assembly's College, and later after full-time study
also, became assistant to the Rev. S. R. Jamison of Ulsterville. He was
licensed as a probationer there, and on 26th April 1949 was ordained in
Albert Street Church, Belfast.
Following a successful Ministry there, he
and his wife and their two daughters, Freda and Yvonne, moved to Dromore.
Mr. McConnell began an energetic Ministry which saw the formation of G.B.
and B.B. Companies, a Children's Church, and the continuing work of the
P.W.A. in which Mrs. McConnell took an active interest.
Now, all of this
weekday activity took place in the old schoolroom, and, as time passed, it
became obvious that it was no longer adequate to accommodate the work of
the congregation. Some therefore proposed that a new hall be erected.
There was opposition to this, but the advice . . . `Old houses mended,
cost little less than new before they're ended,' . . . prevailed, and work
commenced on the new hall which was opened by the Lord Chief
REV. F. L. McCONNELL. MINISTER 1952-1976.
MEMBERS OF SESSION & COMMITTEE WITH THE MODERATOR OF ASSEMBLY RT.
REV. DR. A. MARTIN AND THE MINISTER REV. F. L. McCONNELL AT THE
RE-DEDICATION SERVICE AFTER RE-DECORATION OF THE CHURCH IN 1966.
Justice McDermott in 1960, and dedicated by the Moderator of the
General Assembly Dr. T. A. B. Smyth. A few years later the debt was
cleared, the whole scheme costing �14.000. By the mid1960's the Church was
in need of repair, and in 1965 extensive redecoration work was carried
out, and the Rt. Rev. Dr. Alfred Martin, Moderator of the General
Assembly, re-opened the building for worship in September 1966.
also, the Session gave permission for a Youth Fellowship to be held on
Sunday nights. This organisation is still going strong, and over the years
has exercised a healthy evangelical ministry on the lives of the young
people. A varied weekly programme, with outings, and an annual Easter
Weekend away, have helped to foster interest and fellowship.
ministry, the Session Minutes tell us that the Church was involved in two
evangelistic campaigns. The first was a united campaign with the other
main denominations in the town, and it was held in 1955. Then, in 1972, it
was decided to hold a congregational Mission which ran from 18th February
to 4th March, and there was much preparation for it. Sub-committees, drawn
from the eldership, were set up . . . for, prayer, praise, visitation,
transport, etc., the whole plan being guided by the Missioner, the Rev.
John Girvan of Immanuel, Belfast (now Minister of Hill Street, Lurgan and
Moderator of the General Assembly, 1981-1982). The Gospel was faithfully
proclaimed and some harvest was reaped. In 1974 the congregation also took
part in the Flame '74 project, a plan for the renewal of the Church.
Meetings were held, led by various speakers, and discussion groups formed
to help people to a better understanding of the Christian Faith, and the
disciples responsibilities to his Lord.
REV. W. D. PATTON
THE PRESENT MINISTRY
In March 1976, Mr. McConnell and his wife retired to Newcastle and the
congregation set about the task of selecting a new Minister. A Hearing
Committee was appointed, and in October they recommended the congregation
to call the Rev. W. D. Patton, B.S.Sc., B.D. This was agreed, and Mr.
Patton was installed on February 16th 1977. Born in Warrenpoint 30th May
1950, Mr. Patton received his education at Portadown College, Queen's
University, Belfast, and The Assembly's College, Belfast. He was a student
assistant in Cregagh Congregation 1973-1974. He was licensed by the
Presbytery of Armagh in June 1974 in his home congregation of Armagh Road,
Portadown, and became Assistant to the Very Rev. Dr. J. T. Carson in
Trinity Bangor in August of that year. There, he was ordained in January
1975 and remained assistant until his call to Dromore.
Since 1977 the
congregation has further developed its work and witness. In October 1979 a
large extension to the Hall was opened and dedicated by the Moderator of
Assembly, the Rt. Rev. Dr. W. M. Craig, Minister of First Portadown
congregation, at a cost of �62,000. This extra accommodation has allowed
many more meetings to take place through the week, and has facilitated the
organisations in their activities. Much of the emphasis is on Youth Work.
A Saturday night Youth Club was begun in 1979, and has about 60 names on
the rolls. Then a Junior Christian Endeavour Society was formed in October
1980. Opening with an attendance of 11, this has built up to 30 over the
first winter's work, and already, some members have signed active members
cards. In May 1981 some of the members entered the all Ireland Junior C.
E. Talent competitions, and some of these gained 1st, 2nd, and 3rd,
The Boys' Brigade celebrated its Silver Anniversary in 1979
under the Captaincy of Mr. Trevor Patterson, and the Girl's Brigade (with
their Captain Mrs. I. Wilson) held their Silver Anniversary celebrations
in 1978. In the past few years both these organisations have gained
distinction in the Scripture examinations set annually.
has also been involved in a wider sphere of service through the work of
three of its young men. Mr. Victor Patterson was called to the Ministry,
and, having completed his course of study at Assembly's College, he was
licensed by the Dromore Presbytery in June 1977. He served as assistant
Minister to the Rev. Brian Moore in West Kirk, Belfast, and was installed
as Minister of Kingsmills and Jeretzpass in 1979. One of his brothers,
Jim, and his wife are at present working on an engineering and language
project with T.E.A.R. Fund in Benin, Africa. Also, Lawrence Wallace, has
worked with T.E.A.R. Fund in Bangladesh, and is now engaged on building
work for refugees in different parts of Africa.
REV. W. D. PATTON
SESSION MEMBERS, 1981 Back Row-Mr. George Osborne, Mr. Sam Carlisle,
Mr. Roy McClune, Mr. Victor Martin, Dr. K. O. Patterson. Centre-Mr.
Henry Adams, Mr. Hugh Scott, Mr. R. J. Robinson, Mr. James Thompson,
Mr. F. McCarroll. Front-Mr. Andrew Kelly, Mr. John McGrehan (Clerk),
Rev. W. D. Patton, Miss S. K. Stronge, Mr. Carson Cardwell.
So, the congregation continues its life and work. Over more than three
centuries all kinds of challenges have been met, and many storms
weathered, in faith. In this Church, so beloved by our people, much
Divine work has been achieved, the worth of which will be known only
in eternity. Here, the Gospel has sounded forth, and countless numbers
have responded to the call of Jesus Christ to deny themselves, take up
His Cross, and follow Him.
What does the future hold? Humanly
speaking no-one knows, but the purposes of God for First Dromore will
be fulfilled, and we may be confident the hand of God will continue to
guide His flock, and that the young people will take their place in
that future work.
The words of Edward Plumptre's hymn express our
faith, in saying . . .
Thy hand O God has guided Thy flock from age
to age; The wondrous tale is written, Full clear on every page ;
Our fathers owned thy goodness, And we their deeds record, And both of
this bear witness,
One Church, One Faith, One Lord. Thy mercy will not fail us,
Nor leave thy work undone ; With thy right hand to help us, The
victory shall be won ; And then by men, and angels, Thy Name shall be
adored, And this shall be their anthem, One Church, One Faith, One
|CHURCH COMMITTEE MEMBERS 1981
Back Row-Harold Gibson, James Cochrane, Joseph Thompson, John
McMillan, Henry Poots, Thompson Howe. Centre William Gibson, George
McCandless, John Humphreys, David Walker, Sidney Stronge, Will Gamble,
Front Row-John A. Shannon, William Patterson (Treasurer), Rev. W. D.
Patton, John McGrehan (Secretary), James Stronge, Norman Biggerstaff.
|ON DROMORE AND DISTRICT GENERALLY
|TOPOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF IRELAND
||Vol. I, 1857
|GAZETTE OF IRELAND
|HISTORY OF COUNTY DOWN
|A RAMBLE THROUGH DROMORE
||J. F. Milligan
|TWO CENTURIES OF LIFE IN DOWN
||S. Basset, 1886
|THE LAGAN VALLEY
||E. R. R. Green
PRESBYTERIANISM IN IRELAND - GENERAL AND LOCAL
|HISTORY OF CONGREGATIONS
||W. D. Killen
||Dr. D. Stewart
|THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN IRELAND
||A. C. Anderson
|HISTORY OF THE PRESBYTERIAN
CHURCH IN IRELAND
||J. S. Reid
|HISTORY AND LITERARY MEMORIALS OF THE
|PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN
|DROMORE, AN ULSTER DIOCESE
||E. D. Atkinson
|MINUTES OF THE SYNOD OF
|MINUTES OF THE DROMORE
|MINUTES OF SESSION AND COMMITTEE
OF 1st DROMORE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
|THE DROMORE LEADER.
|FASTI - BIOGRAPHICAL INDEX OF ALL THE MINISTERS OF THE IRISH
PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, KEPT BY THE PRESBYTERIAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY.