REV. D.H.A. WATSON, BA., B.D.
28th September 1956 the congregation had the joy of having their own
minister, when Rev. D.H.A. Watson, B.A., B.D., was ordained in First Lisburn
Presbyterian Church for the Joint Lambeg - Seymour Hill Church Extension
Charge. Mr. Watson was a son of the manse, his father, Rev. David Watson,
being minister ofFirstDonaghadee. Mr. Watson's mother became an active
member of the Lambeg congregation.
Mr. Watson's influence in these churches was significant as shown by the
breadth of outlook and caring attitudes of the members of both Harmony Hill
and Seymour Hill, and the real feeling in each congregation of belonging to
Mr. Watson was often seen in all weathers, riding round Lambeg and down to
Seymour Hill on his bicycle, until the congregation joined together to buy
him a black Ford Popular. To quote Mr. Watson "SZ 7316 proved a friendly and
A Brownie Pack was started in September 1958 under the leadership of Mrs.
Margaret McKnight, with a Guide Company opening the following year in
October 1959 under the leader ship of Miss Sheila Kerr and Mrs. J. Browne.
Also in 1959, Indoor Bowling (Mixed and Ladies) was started. The Lambeg
Players took the stage with Mr. Clifford Boyd as producer. They have
subsequently progressed to such venues as the Group Theatre, Belfast and the
summer theatre in Portrush.
Mr. J. Nelson continued assisting Mr. Watson until Mr. Nelson retired in
October 1959. Rev. R. Brown, B.A., who was a final year student at
Assembly's College, was appointed as assist ant until he left to continue
his studies at the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey.
During this time, improvements were carried out in the Lambeg Hall. In
1956 the upstairs room, used for church services, was floored by Messrs.
Crawford in one week at the cost of £92. Electric heating was installed to
replace the coke stove. This room was given the name `The Upper Room' by Mr.
Watson. Some of the men of the congregation made a small raised dais at the
front of the reading desk, a gift from the former Masonic Hall, now the site
of the Bizerba Firm in Lambeg village. This room was also used for other
church activities including the Annual Flower Show started by Mr. David
Hilditch on Saturday 7th September 1957. Mr. Cyril Gillett has organised
this show from 1966 - 1990 and the proceeds over this period have been
donated to various charities and church furnishings. The present organisers
are Mr. George McCartney and Mr. Jeffrey Whitford. In 1957 the Lambeg Hall
was purchased from First Lisburn congregation from whom it had been held
free of rent for some years.
The original site chosen for the Lambeg Church was at Woodland Park off
the Moss Road but the Church Committee thought a more central site would be
preferable and a recommendation was therefore sent to the Interim Session.
Negotiations for a site on the corner of the Harmony Hill - Moss Road
development were entered into by Church Extension but the asking price was
considered too high. However in 1959, through the intervention of Mr. R. McK.
Hill, the local Councillor, and a member of the congregation, a site (on
which there had been a row of small houses) was found. It is this area of
ground that forms the site of the present church.
Many letters passed between the Church Committee and Church Extension of
which the Rev. J.T. Carson, B.A., was the hard-working Convenor, as the
delays mounted and plans for the building were changed and modified. This
caused considerable frustration.
The Foundation Stone of Seymour Hill Church, the Nendrum Stone, was laid
on the 14th March 1959 and that Church was dedicated on 19th September 1959.
This meant that the hut which Seymour Hill had used was no longer needed
and in 1960 it was transferred to Lambeg Presbyterian Hall in the village
and joined to the Hall by men of the congregation. This proved very useful
for the youth and the other organisations which were growing in number. The
spirit of those who moved the but and rebuilt it in Lambeg under the
leadership of Mr. Tom Conway was recorded in verse by Mr. H. Forsythe in the
Harbinger of 1960.
THE CONWAY GANG
|Here's to the boys of the Conway Gang,
They went to work with a biff and a bang,
Some of them big and some of them small,
Demolishers, builders, painters and all.
Tommy and Cliffie, Alan and Stew,
Alec turned out for a time or two,
Sinclair and three by the name of john,
And a score of others off and on.
Here's to the boys who moved the hut,
Bang, biff, wallop, nail and nut,
With pick and hammer, spanner and drill,
Bit by bit from Seymour Hill.
Commander Tom was big and strong,
No thin-skinned guy could last for long,
Where Alan gave as good as he got,
Among that wild, sharp-shooting lot.
The floor was laid like a pier at the docks,
For Eric planned the pillars of blocks,
Gauging them well with level and line,
And the whole fitted together fine.
The hut went up in the Lambeg zone,
With many a grump and many a groan,
With many a push and many a shove,
But they did it all as a labour of love.
They lined it well with hardboard sheet,
And working there all trim and neat,
Freeze-on-it George sealed many a crack,
With a splash of paint about his neck.
Commander Tom and Stanley, the Sparks,
Hoped that, they would get full marks,
On many a cold, dark winter's night,
As they wired the but for heat and light.
And then with the painting the clowns appeared,
When a new one came the whole crowd cheered,
While Ronnie and Dan with youthful ease,
Were swinging aloft on the flying trapeze.
With Cyllies and Billies well to the fore,
They splashed all the windows, spattered the floor,
And one bright wag with a cunning swipe,
Flavoured the flake in Clutie John's pipe.
And then to finish the painting job,
Came a painter topped with a snow-white nob,
The window frames were made to glow,
By our lone-star artist, Platinum Joe.
Then clearing, step-building, flagging and fencing,
With Alan and John, like Hillary and Tenzing,
Were David and Cliffie, Alec and Stew,
At the height of their glory we bid them adieu.
If your name's not mentioned, well don't fret,
You're one of the gang, whose toil and sweat,
Were mixed with fun in all they did,
To save the Church three hundred quid.
Now here's to the boys of the Conway Gang,
Who went to work with a biff and a bang,
Some of them big and some of them small,
Demolishers, builders, painters and all.
One very important event in 1960 was the wedding of the Rev. Alec Watson
to Missiean Sprunt. He brought his bride from Scotland to be warmly welcomed
by the congregation. Mrs. Watson soon became involved in the work of the
Also in 1960 Rev. J.W. Morrow, B.Sc., M.Agr. Ph.D., (later to become
leader of the Corrymeela Community) was ordained in Kilmakee Church, Seymour
Hill as Assistant to Mr. Watson. The two ministers worked together visiting
and caring for the joint congregation with great devotion until eventually
the two charges were divided and Dr. Morrow was installed in Kilmakee Church
as Minister of Seymour Hill on 2nd December 1962. The Congregation of
Seymour Hill passed from Dromore Presbytery to the former Belfast Presbytery
on 1st January 1963. Seymour Hill is now in South Belfast Presbytery.
THE HARMONY HILL CHURCH
A number of plans for the church were submitted to Church Extension by
the architects Messrs. Munce and Kennedy but were turned down as unsuitable.
Plans for the present building were however accepted and on 19th September
1964 two foundation stones were eventually laid at Harmony Hill. These were
formed from a dolorite boulder which had been found on the site. The
preparation of the site presented difficulties as the builders, Messrs.
Fraser & Co. (W. H. Law and Sons) had to excavate the hill and a number of
springs were uncovered which had to be culverted. The contract for the
building of the church was £35,820. Church Extension met the cost of the
building, whilst the congregation was responsible for the furnishings. A
Furnishing Fund (with Mr. S. Morwood as Treasurer) was started in September
The Church was opened and dedicated by the then Moderator of the General
Assembly, the Very Rev. Dr. James Dunlop on Saturday 29th May 1965. A
feature of the opening was the switching on of the lights, which were the
gift of the "Live Wire" scheme. This was a proj ect engaged in by the
children and young people of the whole Presbyterian Church in Ireland to
raise funds for providing lighting in new Church Extension buildings.
At the time of the opening of the church in Harmony Hill the congregation
consisted of 244 families.
The opening services were held on Sunday 30th May 1965. At the morning
service the preacher was the Very Rev. Dr. R J. Wilson, Principal Emeritus
of Assembly's College. At the Evening Service the preacher was Dr. William
Boyd, M.A., the Minister of First Lisburn.
The Church building has been described as a tent - a tabernacle. To the
outside world the embracing walls of the building disclose only two elements
- the tented roof of the Church itself and the courtyard entrance through
the base of the Campanile.
The timber hyperbolic paraboloid roof floats above the enclosing walls,
being supported at four points only. The emphasis on Word and Sacraments and
their relationships to each other is brought out by the prominence and
siting of the pulpit, font and Communion table. The composition in concrete
gives unity with the pulpit, the screen at its back, the font and the
pedestal which supports the Communion table top. This pedestal was cast in
the same mould as the font. The central position of the table allows the
congregation to gather round it for worship as a family, reminiscent of the
long tables in the aisles when the people ,came forward' to Communion.
The bell which bears the date 1874 as well as a crown, a harp and a
shamrock, came from Clogher Presbyterian Church, Co. Mayo. The cause at
Clogher grew out of the work of Mr. John McManus. Formed as a congregation
in 1864, united with Boyle in 1911, it was demoted to Mission Station in
1922. The building was demolished in 1931.
The Church Extension Committee sold the manse on the Moss Road and a new
manse was bought at 2 Parkmount, Lisburn into which the family moved in
The Rev. Alec Watson was presented with robes on 19th September 1965 by
Mrs. Daley and Mrs. Black on behalf of the congregation. Mrs. Kirkwood
presented Mrs. Watson with a gift.
On 23rd January 1966 a televised service was broadcast from the new
Church, the preacher being the Very Rev. Dr. Fulton. Two services which have
now become institutions were started in 1967 - the Candlelight Carol Service
and the Christmas Eve Service.
In 1967 the following Memorial was sent to the General assembly in June:
'To the Venerable the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in
Ireland to meet in Belfast on 5th June 1967.
The memorial of the Interim Session of Harmony Hill Church, Lambeg,
Church Extension Charge respectfully showeth:
That the Church Extension Charge of Harmony Hill Church, Lambeg, was
established in February 1954: that there are now associated with it more
than 320 families: that the members feel financially able to bear the
responsibilities of a congregation of the Church: and that they are eager to
take their full and proper share in the life of the Church.
Memorialists, therefore, pray your Reverend Assembly to authorise the
Presbytery of Dromore to erect the Charge of Harmony Hill, Lambeg, into a
congregation of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, under that name and on a
convenient date after 31st December 1967 to place them on the Synod of
On Sunday 18th February 1968 the Moderator of the General Assembly, the
Very Rev. Dr. William Boyd, M.A. led the worship and informed the
congregation that it had been erected and was now an established
A Kirk Session consisting of members of the congregation was elected. The
following were ordained and installed as the first elders of the
congregation on 17th November 1968 -Mrs. M. Kirkwood, W J. Blackburn, R J.C.
Boyd, W. Castles, G. Daley, C.E. Gillett, A. Rankin, G.S. Wallace and 3
elders were installed (having been ordained in other congregations) C.
Bothwell, N. McKnight and A. MacLurg. Mr. A. MacLurg was appointed the first
Also in 1968 the Church Building received a Civic Trust Award for the
"The most pleasing contribution which it makes to the area". A travel grant
from the American Memorial Chapel was awarded by the English Speaking Union
to the Rev. A. Watson which enabled him to visit the U.S.A. from March to
May 1968 in order to study the work of the churches there. There were two
radio broadcasts from the church - the first in March 1969 when the theme
was `Harmony' and the second in October of the same year with the theme `The
Promised Land'. A televised service was recorded on 9th January 1971- the
theme `The Light of Love'. Letters of appreciation were received showing the
influence of the congregation on a wider sphere.
The work and life of the congregation continued to expand with the number
of families (390 in 1970) increasing as more and more houses were built in
the surrounding area. The Young Women's Group was formed in February 1970
and the First Lambeg Beaver Team started under the leadership of Mrs.
Bartley in October 1970. Badminton and Table Tennis started in 1972 and a
Bunny (now Rainbows) group for 4 - 7 year old girls under the leadership of
Mrs. Doak began in 1975.
As the congregation grew, the need for more accommodation for its
organisations was met from 1968 to 1970 by a temporary but erected in the
grounds. The area between the Church and Harmony Hill had been purchased in
1967 from McCall and Sons for £1,100 with a view to building a hall on it
but objections to this by some neighbours resulted in it being converted
into a car park. This work was carried out by Mr. R. Cullen.
A NEW HALL
The building of the Main Hall by Dunlop Brothers at a cost of £17,200,
was started at the end of 1970 and the service of dedication was held on 5th
September 1971. The service was conducted by the Very Rev. Dr. W. Boyd, M.A.
and the address was given by Dr. A J. Weir, M.Sc., then Clerk of the General
Assembly. This service was followed by a week of celebratory events
culminating in the Annual Flower Show.
The old hall in Lambeg village continued in use until about 1974 when it
fell into disrepair and was accidentally burnt down. The sale of the site
helped to pay for the cost of the new hall. The site of the old hall is now
Priory Close, made up of a number of smaller houses for senior citizens.
The darkness and sorrow of the Northern Ireland situation was brought home
to the congregation when two members were murdered in 1972, Sergeant Maynard
Crawford and Corporal Roy Stanton of the Ulster Defence Regiment. A lectern,
the gift of the Crawford family, was dedicated in memory of Sergeant
Crawford. Memorial plaques are situated in the entrance foyer of the Church.
The summer of 1975 was marked by the departure of Rev. D.H.A. Watson, on
receiving a call to become Minister of Burns and Old Parish Church in
Kilsyth, Scotland, and from which he later moved to Anstruther in Fife. Mr.
Watson came in 1956 to the Church Extension Charge in Lambeg of 57 families
with 33 communicants and 4 baptisms in that year. When he left in 1975 there
was a thriving congregation of some 370 families with 381 communicants and
over 50 baptisms on average in a year.
For over 18 years, Mr. Watson ministered in Harmony Hill where his
distinguished, energetic and well balanced ministry set the mould of the
congregation in the true worship of God and in happy, active fellowship with
all the people of the district. As well as his work in the congregation, Mr.
Watson, a member of the Iona Community, was a founder member of the
Corrymeela Community at Ballycastle, the N.I. War on Want and Protestant and
Catholic Encounter. He was Chairman of the Committees of several schools and
was active in the South Eastern Education and Library Board, serving as its
Chairman for a period. He also took an active part in the work of the
General Assembly, serving on a number of its Boards and Committees dealing
with Sunday School and Youth Interests.
REV. W. H. GRAY, BA., B.D.
The Very Rev. Dr. H. Cromie, Minister of Railway Street, was appointed
Convenor-in-Charge of the vacancy and an unanimous call was
by the congregation to the Rev. W. Harold Gray, B.A., B.D. of Woodvale
Presbyterian Church. He had grown up as a member of St. Enoch's Belfast and
had been a schoolteacher before receiving a call to the ministry of the
Presbyterian Church. Rev. H. Gray was Assistant Minister in Great Victoria
Street. He was installed in Newmills, Co. Tyrone on 17th October 1956, and
was later installed also in Carland on 1 st June 1960 when the two
congregations were united. While in Tyrone Mr.Gray gave valued service as
Convenor for Sunday School work throughout the Assembly. He accepted a call
to Woodvale where he was installed in 1969.
Rev. H. Gray was installed as Minister of Harmony Hill on 23rd January
1976. He was an able preacher, showing a deep pastoral concern and
sensitivity; and was committed to every aspect of the life and witness of
the Church. His wife, Jean, a tower of strength, was involved in the work of
the Church, principally in the Women's Guild. Mr. Gray has been Moderator of
the Dromore Presbytery and in 1989 Moderator of the Synod of Armagh and
Down. He takes a keen interest in education, having served as Chairman of
the South Eastern Education and Library Board and a member of a number of
local school boards. He is a Trustee of Wallace High School and Chairman of
the Board of Governors. He is also a Trustee of the Sabbath School for the
Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
The `Harmony Hill Link', a short congregational magazine, which is issued
quarterly, was started in December 1976. There had been a similar magazine,
`News & Views', published by Dr. & Mrs. Harbison, which had started in 1969.
Mr. & Mrs. Richards undertook responsibility for `The Link' until February
1978 when they moved to England. Mr. Gray then undertook the editorship. On
Mr. Gray's retirement, Mr. Clifford Boyd became editor.
A new pipe organ, built by the Irish Organ Company, one of the Cosgrove
range, was dedicated on Sunday 9th January 1977 with Mr. James Moore,
F.R.C.O. as guest organist.
A milestone in the history of the congregation occurred in February 1979,
when the 25th Anniversary Celebrations took place; commencing with a Service
on Sunday 18th February conducted by the then Moderator of the General
Assembly, the Very Rev. Dr. David Burke. In the afternoon he was introduced
to the Session and the Committee, members of the Choir, Sunday School
teachers and Leaders of organisations, and on
that date the Church held its own Songs of Praise at the evening service.
During the following week, there was a permanent exhibition of the
history of the congregation and of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. There
were meetings for Young Wives and mothers, afternoon tea for Senior
Citizens, an Inter-Organisation Quiz, a film of Yester year, entertainment
by the Lambeg Players, items by the uniformed Organisations, a Fancy Dress
Church Birthday Party for Beginners and Primary Sunday Schools, and a Sports
Night at Glenmore Activity Centre for Junior and Senior Sunday Schools. This
all culminated in afinal Celebration on Sunday 25th February 1979 when Rev.
D.H.A. Watson and Rev. Dr. John Morrow took part in the morning service and
the whole congregation was invited to `Open House' at 4.30 p.m. to meet Mr.
and Mrs. Watson and family and have tea together. The Evening Service was
recorded for `Shut-ins'.
On 14th October 1979, Mr. Alf McCreary, the well-known Ulster journalist,
spoke of World Hunger at the evening service, a "Fast" Group was
subsequently started in the congregation. The members fasted one day in the
month and the money saved was given to Christian Aid. This Group is now know
as `The Third World Group' to include others interested in helping in this
project. To date the members of this Group have raised over £13,000 for
A broadcast service took place on Radio Ulster on Sunday 9th May 1982 and
messages of appreciation and congratulation were received.
The Church roof had to be repaired in 1982 as it was leaking and the
supporting timbers had become affected with rot. A Gestetner duplicating
machine was purchased which enabled Mr. Stanley Wallace to print `The Link'
and other publications and leaflets required for the Church and its
As the Church had been designed and built without cavity walls, there was
a problem with condensation and in 1983, the walls were insulated. An
oil-fired heating system was installed to replace the under-floor electrical
heating which was becoming less effective and in need of repair.
September 1983 the congregation welcomed its first Assistant Minister, Mr.
Rodney Boyd Thompson, B.A., whose home congregation was Lowe Memorial
Presbyterian Church, Finaghy. He was licensed in Lowe Memorial on 17th June
1984 and ordained in Harmony Hill on 13th January 1985. He showed a strong
sense of Christian commitment and contributed much to the work and life of
the congregation. He is at present minister of Cladymore in Co. Armagh.
The Choir held a `Sing-in' in 1984 which contributed to the cost of
purchasing a new piano. This was so successful that a second was held in
1988. On this occasion the proceeds were given to the Presbyterian
In September 1985 a Flower Festival was held, co-ordinated by Mrs. Audrey
Carruthers. The theme was `Flowers in Harmony' depicting "The Words of Jesus
Christ". This Flower Festival differed from many of those held in other
congregations, in that, virtually all the arrangements were assembled by
members of Harmony Hill congregation, with the minimum of professional help.
During the Festival, organ recitals were given by the organist Mr. Tom Haire,
and Mrs. J. Finnegan, Mrs. U. McIlroy, and Mr. R. Hinds. The Festival ended
with a special Praise Service on Sunday 29th September.
Tragedy again struck the congregation when Constable Michael Todd was
killed by I.R.A. terrorists in the service of the community on 15th June
1984. He was awarded The Queen's Gallantry Medal posthumously. Memorial
chairs were presented to the church by his family and the R.U.C. A
commemorative plaque was placed in the vestibule.
A new Assistant Minister came to the congregation in 1986, Mr. Charles
John Carson McMullen, M.A., M.Litt. (Oxon) B.D., whose home
congregation was Trinity, Omagh. He was licensed at Trinity, Omagh on 21st
June 1987 and ordained in Harmony Hill on 31st January 1988.
The high reputation that preceded Mr. McMullen's arrival in the
congregation was quickly confirmed. His many gifts of mind and heart
together with the high standard of his ministry, pulpit and pastoral,
impressed everyone. He endeared himself to all, minister and members alike.
In the summer of 1989, Mr. McMullen was one of three delegates from the
Irish Presbyterian Church to the Assembly of the World Alliance of Reformed
Churches held at Seoul, Korea. He is now Minister of Legacurry Presbyterian
Church having been called there towards the end of 1990 and installed on 1st
the academic year 1989-90, Miss Ann Kennedy, B. Ed., was assigned to Harmony
Hill for her final college year. This assignment was designed as a training
year for her in keeping with a newly innovated scheme for students in their
final year. Although the scheme is designed for the benefit of students, we
gladly acknowledge that in the case of Miss Kennedy, the congregation
greatly benefited from her sincerity and caring, co-operative attitude. Her
presence for one year in Harmony Hill was enriching for the congregation. A
member of West Church, Bangor, she was licensed there on Sunday 24th June
1990, and then moved to Cregagh Presbyterian Church as Full-time Assistant.
Her ordination took place in Cregagh on 27th January 1991. Miss Kennedy is
now the Minister of Caledon and Minterburn congregations, having been
installed there on 19th March 1993.