Although situated in the centre of the town adjacent to the main thoroughfare
with its continuous bustle of traffic, a feature of the church is its quiet
serenity which is contributed to in a marked degree by the subdued and peaceful
atmosphere created by the many fine stained glass windows."
So wrote Ivan Craig in his historical work Presbyterianism in Lisburn the XVIIth
Century, when referring to First Lisburn Presbyterian Church. Few, if any, of
those who have worshipped in or visited this historic building since the
majority of windows were installed in 1900 would question Ivan's words,
certainly not those of the congregation of the early 1980's who for some years
were faced with boarded-up areas where the windows had been. As with so many
things in life, we had to lose what we once had before we appreciated their real
value to us. The reason for their absence is fully explained in other pages.
In producing a pictorial record of the original windows and of those more
recently installed, we pay tribute to those who by their dedication, hard work
and faith ensured that our damaged windows were restored to us in all their
former glory and with so little diminution of their aesthetic value.
As the Tercentenary anniversary of the call to our first Minister approaches,
the opportunity has been taken of' continuing that work of Ivan Craig by
bringing up to date the significant events that have occurred during the fast 28
years of those three centuries, the changes to our church, to our town and to
the general atmosphere in which we, the citizens of Lisburn, have lived during
There is no specific 'story' as such, simply a number of' vignettes contributed
by members of the congregation plus one by a former assistant Minister of First
Lisburn, tire Rev. Dr. Robert N. Brown, now Head of Religious Studies at
Stranmillis College. Each one writes in his or her own words on the events as
they have seen and interpreted them.
To those readers who were familiar with our church and town and have since
moved, may this book refresh your mind with pleasant memories; to those
currently in the congregation, may it increase your interest in the beauty that
surrounds you as you worship and enable you to appreciate it more fully; to
those who have not yet seen the beauty of the church itself, may it encourage
you to visit us at First Lisburn where you will find a welcome as warm as the
light which shines through our windows on a bright Summer's day.
Today a special Service of Remembrance was held at Lisburn's War Memorial. It
was for the victims of last Sunday's bomb at Enniskillen and their families -
eleven dead, sixty-three injured as they gathered for their Remembrance Day
Service. Never has there been such a united sense of outrage and sorrow
throughout our Province. Will this be the turning point? Future readers of this
short history will know the answer. Meanwhile it falls to us to redouble our
efforts to win people for Christ and to work for peace, justice and
Compared with Sunday's tragedy `our' bomb was relatively trivial. Nevertheless
this is an account of faith, courage and perseverance of a congregation in
adversity. We hope it will strengthen others in their Christian commitment.
We are most indebted to Mr. Bill Richer who first proposed this book - and then
found himself nominated as Editor! We could not have made a better choice.
I personally want to record my gratitude to the congregation's leaders and
especially to Mr. Norman G. White, our ideal Clerk of Session; my deep affection
and admiration for my Senior Minister, the Very Rev. Dr. William Boyd, ever
gracious, supportive and practical in both advice and help; and above all, my
sense of privilege in being allowed to serve this friendly, generous and
progressive congregation as its Minister.
The longer I am here in Lisburn the more conscious I am of God's guiding and
sustaining hand. That is why, along with my wife Margaret, I look to the future
with confidence and excitement.
|11th November 1987
R. J. Gordon Gray, Minister
I am glad that through the Tercentenary which you are celebrating, interest has
been aroused to bring your history up to date and I commend all involved in this
project. Hopefully it will also be an appropriate time to pay tribute to those
pioneers of years ago without whose enthusiasm there would be no history to
write. To those of bygone years we owe an incalculable debt.
It was my happy lot to be Minister during the years 1950-1972. When
announcing my retirement I wrote these words for the Church Magazine -and to me
they are still true - "no man could have enjoyed a happier ministry, for you
have not only supported and encouraged me, but through the years a wonderful
group of office-bearers and leaders have sought to share the load". This I
believe is still true, for the pilgrimage of which my ministry was a part must
go on, and I know that my successor Dr. Gordon Gray - than whom no Senior
Minister could have a more understanding and sympathetic colleague - is upheld
and supported by a most active and willing band.
The Century you are specially remembering has been one of great challenge and
change, and the Church does not like change. What then of the future? Let us
remember Niebuhr's Prayer:
|`0 God, give us serenity,
to accept what cannot be changed
courage to change what should be changed
and wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.'
William Boyd, Senior Minister