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WRITTEN ON THE OCCASION OF THE
Centenary of
Seymour Street Methodist Church 1975
Updated 2000

Author
Mr. George E. Orr

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 

CHAPTER 14

1975-2000 - Events

The Centenary Year, 1975, was a very significant year in the life of Seymour Street Church. It was, naturally enough, a time to look back but it also proved to be a year of challenge and a time to plan for the future.

The mission conducted by the Rev Alan Broadbent from Manchester Central Mission, together with all the Centenary Celebrations in 1975, can be seen as the springboard for the developing work of the next twenty-five years. Many people still testify to the blessing they received during the mission. The origins of house groups in the congregation can be traced to the activities during the mission fortnight and they have continued intermittently ever since.

The Centenary Celebrations began in November 1974 when a special service was held to commemorate the Laying of the Foundation-Stone of Seymour Street Church on 1 1 November 1874. Just before that anniversary, the Junior Ministers' Convention had been hosted by Lisburn for the first time in forty years.

During the Autumn of 1975 the Centenary Celebrations gathered momentum. Former ministers, the Revs Alfred Collins, Herbert Irvine, Torn Crabbe, Robert McVeigh and N Edward Mulligan, were welcomed back to conduct services. The Wesley Historical Society met in Lisburn to launch the book, Lisburn Methodism. The President, the Rev Dr Hedley W Plunkett, conducted a Commissioning Service for Philip and Dorothy Parish, who left for work with MMS (Overseas Division) in Ghana.

Seymour Street Church had been labouring under a burden of debt and the Leaders agreed to make a special effort to raise the 3,000 needed to clear it before the end of the Centenary Year. It was decided to hold a Harvest Fair at the home of Mr and Mrs Andy Maze, Cherryville Farm, on Saturday 27 September. It was widely advertised and the star attraction was to be a parachute free-fall jump, undertaken by the Forces. The handbill for the event stated boldly, `We need 3,000. The work of God must not be hindered by continuing debt.' When the day arrived, the `rains descended and the floods came', the parachute jump had to be abandoned and those present were nearly washed away but, remarkably, the sum of over 3,600 was raised.

A special edition of The Light was produced for the Centenary. It provided a comprehensive record of the various Church activities current in 1975 and it also gave some of the older members of the congregation the opportunity to `take a walk down Memory Lane'. Mr William Caves wrote about his memories of Sunday School; Mr Andy Maze told of his father's conversion during a mission in 1922, conducted by the Rev W P Nicholson; Mr Howard Stevenson outlined the special tasks undertaken

by the congregation during the 1939-1945 War; Mr Charles Allen described how. as a child, he attended the Love Feast; and Miss May Higginbottom remembered the choir during the First World War.

The Celebrations culminated in the events of the Centenary week-end in November On Friday 21 November a Centenary Reunion and Supper was held in Forthil Secondary School. On Sunday 23 November special Centenary Services were held The preacher at morning worship was the President, the Rev Dr Hedley W Plunkett. and at evening worship the preacher was a former President, the Rev James Wisheart

The events of 1975 had a profound effect on the life of the congregation. Many had entered into a new experience of Christ and were prepared to offer service in the different organisations, in participation in house groups and in various practical ways. Perhaps most important of all, the shared activities of 1975 welded the congregatior into a unit. Previously there had been, to some extent, two congregations: those members who were natives of Lisburn, from families with a long association with the area, and those who had moved to the area from outside. As the congregation looked to its second century of service, there was a shared unity of purpose which has characterised it during the last twenty-five years.
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One of the outcomes of the mission was the formation of a Men's Fellowship. which initially met on alternate Sunday afternoons. One of the tasks it undertook was to organise a Senior Citizens' get-together on the first Saturday of the month. from October to April. Although the Men's Fellowship lasted for only a short time. the Senior Citizens' Meeting continued for more than twenty years, under the guidance of Mr Hubert Maze, until dwindling numbers made it unviable.

A further outcome of the mission was the formation of a fortnightly Women's Prayer Group. It first met in the manse and later in various members' homes. It continues in its present format as a Bible Study led by Mrs Hazel Loney.

The Leaders felt there was a need to draw the members of the congregation together for fellowship in an informal setting. As one member, MrAlfie Gibson, asked, `Why should the Devil have all the fun?' So an annual Congregational Social `with a new look' was planned; it continued for several years. It replaced the more formal annual social at which reports on the previous year's work had been given. The entertainment was usually provided by the choir and talent from the congregation.

At the end of 1975, the Youth Council was established. It was made up of representatives of all the youth organisations, including the newly-formed Youth Club. led by Mr Edwin Ferguson. Negotiations took place with the South Eastern Education and Library Board which agreed to a partial funding of the youth work in the area. Later, in 1978, it became necessary for the William Foote Building to be leased from the Statutory Trustees to the Youth Council in order to qualify for continuing financial support from the Library Board. The Youth Council purchased a minibus in 1978; it has been used by all the youth organisations and other Church groups. The minibus has been maintained and supervised by Mr Herbie McBratney who has also been responsible for organising the collection of those who have no other means of transport to enable them to attend the morning service.

In early 1978, a new outreach venture for children of primary school age, the Shell Club, was launched. More than eighty children attended the first meeting.

Three special events in 1976 and 1977 brought further spiritual renewal to the congregation. In September 1976 a Week of Renewal was held. It was followed, in November, by a visit to the congregation of a Lay Witness Team from the USA. About twenty Americans brought their own distinctive Christian outlook and ethos - there were few cobwebs about when they were around! One outcome of their visit was the formation of a Lay Witness Team from the Circuit which visited the Mahon Society on the Portadown Circuit. The third special event was a visit, early in 1977, by the recently-formed Youth Evangelism Team from the Youth Department. The Team gave a strong boost to the work among young people: their visit led to the establishment of an outreach Coffee Bar on Saturday evenings; it lasted for about three years.

During 1976 an attempt was made to bring the membership list up to date. The Leaders were concerned about the wide discrepancy between the membership figures of the Methodist Church in Ireland, as revealed in the census returns, and the figures appearing in Connexional records. Letters were delivered by the Leaders to all who had any links with Seymour Street Church. The basis of membership and the responsibilities of membership were outlined in the letter and everyone was asked to indicate whether he or she wished to be recorded as a member or as an adherent. Although a few people objected to this exercise, in general it was carried through smoothly and effectively.
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The Rev Kenneth Best, Superintendent Minister of Lisburn and Dromore Circuit and Minister of Seymour Street Church, 2000

The Rev Kenneth Best, Superintendent Minister of Lisburn and Dromore Circuit and Minister of Seymour Street Church, 2000

Some of the Leaders, September 2000

 

At the Leaders' Meeting in November 1979, three members, Dr Leonard Calvert and Messrs Griffith Black and Joseph Edgar, brought a paper proposing that there should be a new management structure to ensure the effective running of the Society. They suggested that, as administration had become too complex to be handled by the two Society Stewards, three sub-committees of the Leaders' Board should be responsible for the running of the Society: a Church Management Committee, a Property Committee and a Finance Committee. This proposal was debated at the meeting and at a special meeting convened two weeks later. It was accepted, though some members were concerned that the authority of the Leaders' Board was being usurped. The new arrangements worked for a short period but soon the Management Committee was perceived to be unnecessary. The new Finance Committee and Property Committee, which had become one committee, continued to operate; it has proved an effective means of organising the business of the Society.

The role of the Class Leader was re-assessed during 1980 and it was agreed that Class Leaders should undertake a lay pastoral role, visiting the members of their Classes each quarter. Dr Leonard Calvert was appointed to coordinate the work of the Class Leaders. He continued to shoulder this responsibility until 1991 when he was succeeded by Mr Will Gowdy, who is currently responsible for this pastoral activity.

In the early 1980s, Dr Lindsay Easson. who had responsibility for the Bible Class, organised a ski trip for them to his native Scotland. About ten young people went to try out new skills. It proved a popular venture and within three years the numbers had swollen to about forty and the trip to the Compass Christian Centre in Glenshee had become an annual event. It continued as a Seymour Street venture for about twelve years. Later young, and not so young, people from Portadown and, more recently, Bray and Dun Laoghaire have joined the group.

In 1985 the first production by the Down District Youth Choir, `It's a Gift', took place in Seymour Street. Directed by Dr Lindsay Easson, the Choir included many young people from Seymour Street. It continued for about seven years.

During the Summer of 1986 Dr Lindsay Easson led a group of about eight or ten young people from Seymour Street to conduct a Scripture Union Holiday Club in Dunfermline. This was the first of about ten such missions in Dunfermline, conducted by young people from the congregation.
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A new Methodist Hymn Book, Hymns and Psalms, was produced in 1983 and the Leaders agreed to purchase 450 copies for the pews, together with 40 copies for the choir. The hymn-books were dedicated at a service on Sunday 25 March 1984, when the speaker was the Rev Charles G Eyre, who had been a member of the committee which produced the new hymn book. In 1987 an anonymous donor presented a set of pew Bibles, in the Good News Version. As the ledges in the pews were unsuitable for the larger Bibles and Hymn Books, new racks, using matching timber, were installed. In 1999 a set of Songs of Fellowship was purchased and it is used to supplement the more traditional hymns in Hymns and Psalms.

In September 1990 a Worship Committee was formed, with Miss Jocelyn Black as Convener; in the following June a Mission Committee was formed, with Mr Edwin Ferguson as Convener. These two committees were responsible for introducing several ventures to promote fellowship and outreach. In 1991 an Easter Sunrise Service took place at Hillsborough Lake: it has become an annual event. It was decided to promote fellowship by having an informal coffee time before the Sunday morning service and this arrangement has also continued. Monthly Sunday evening services of healing were arranged. A series of Men's Breakfasts was held but after a couple of years they were discontinued. An annual snooker competition was organised and a Golf Society was formed; the latter still flourishes. In 1992 a Family Picnic was arranged to follow the morning service on a Sunday in June; this also has become an annual event. In October 1993 a church Family Week-end was organised in Moville. It was not as well supported as had been hoped, but it was the forerunner of an event which has had a regular place in the Church calendar. Unfortunately it has always proved difficult to recruit a representative group to attend from Seymour Street and no Week-end took place in 2000.

In April 1985, a mission was held for young people: taking as its theme `Youth Live', it was led by the Rev Derrick Haskins, minister of Glastry. The Youth Evangelism Team (YET), of which Mr Andrew Hinds was a member, spent a week in Seymour Street in March 1988 and its successor, Team on Mission (TOM), made a more extended visit in November 1994. Working under the slogan, 'This Way Up', and hosted by the Rev Ed McDade and Mr Trevor Gill. the TOM attracted a great number of young people from the area to a series of outreach activities. A further week's visit was made in December 1998 by the TOM. of which Miss Fiona Teeney was a member.

The Leaders have undertaken different forms of training to better equip them for :heir role. One-day sessions of training have been held: in September 1987 the Leaders dad a Retreat in Warrenpoint when they reviewed the work. In 1994 many of the Leaders attended a series of Counselling Seminars in Dunmurry, led by the Rev Ruth Patterson.

In November 1992 a Lay Witness Week-end took place. A team of twenty people. From Methodist churches all over Ireland, led by Miss Heather Boland and Mr Harold Carson. met the congregation at a number of functions, formal and informal, and told their stories.

In 1993 a new praise group, Salt and Light, was formed under the leadership of Mr Paul Good. It has evolved into the current Praise Group, which has more than a dozen instrumentalists who regularly lead the worship.

A very successful Holiday Club, with about 150 children of primary school age attending, was organised in August 1994 by Dr and Mrs Lindsay Easson. It has become an annual event and was organised in 2000 by Miss Alison Templeton.

In 1993 Dr Ian Wells led a small group to consider developing a Mission Statement For Seymour Street `to guide the Church's worship. witness, fellowship and mission'. They prepared a document which was studied by the different organisations, by individual members and by the Leaders. The work was taken on by the Mission Committee and a Mission Statement was produced in 1995. It reads: `Seymour Street Methodist Church, through all its activities, strives to extend God's Kingdom by reaching people and making them disciples of Christ. The Church aims to help everyone recognise and develop their gifts and abilities, and it encourages them tc use these in witness and service in the community to the glory of God.'

This Statement sets the agenda for the Twenty-First Century.
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At the 75th Anniversary of Seymour Street GLB The Rev Kenneth Best with four Captains: Miss Kathleen McCullough Mrs Karen Allen, Mrs Sheila Millar and Mrs Gwen McMillan
At the 75th Anniversary of Seymour Street GLB The Rev Kenneth Best with four Captains: Miss Kathleen McCullough Mrs Karen Allen, Mrs Sheila Millar and Mrs Gwen McMillan

CHAPTER 15

1975-2000 - People

During the past twenty-five years there have been six ministers in Seymour Street. The Rev Winston Good became Superintendent of the Circuit when the Rev John Fee retired in 1976, and remained until 1978 when he was succeeded by the Rev William L Alford. Mr Alford was followed by the Rev Dr Hedley W Plunkett in 1984. When Dr Plunkett retired in 1989, Conference appointed the Rev Edmund T I Mawhinney to Seymour Street: at the same Conference Mr Mawhinney was designated to become the Secretary of Conference in 1990, so his stay in Seymour Street was only for one year. The Rev Dr Kenneth Wilson was appointed in 1990 and served on the Circuit until 1997 when he was succeeded by the present minister, the Rev Kenneth Best. During Dr Wilson's time on the Circuit, the members were very saddened by the sudden death of his wife, Bertha, in March 1993.

Many ministers have come to live on the Lisburn and Dromore Circuit during their retirement and all of them have made significant contributions to the life of the Circuit and to the work in Seymour Street. It has been particularly gratifying that four former Superintendents of the Circuit have made their homes there during retirement: the Revs R Desmond Morris, John A T Fee, William L Alford and J Winston Good. Among those who have contributed to worship have been the Revs George M Fennell, William E Cullen, BA, William Jackson, A Benjamin Allen, Samuel H Baxter, MA DD, James B Turner, R Desmond Morris, John A T Fee, Alan G Hanna, BA BComm, T Henry Holloway, Vincent Parkin, MA BSc, Cecil A Newell. BD, Austin N Hassard, William L Alford and J Winston Good. Four of these, Dr Baxter and the Rev Messrs Hanna, Newell and Good, have also undertaken pastoral duties in the Society.

The Sunday School 2000
The Sunday School 2000

In May 1995 it was reported to the Leaders' Meeting that an application to `Children in Need' to fund a Youth Development Officer for two years had been successful and in September Mr Hedley Abernethy was appointed. When, in September 1997, Mr Abernethy's contract had expired, it was proposed to replace the Youth Development Officer with a Youth and Pastoral Worker. Miss Alison Templeton was appointed and took up a three-year post in September 1998.

During the period under review several members of the congregation have undertaken full-time Christian service, both at home and overseas. Miss Muriel Twinem commenced a three-year contract with Tear Fund in Bangladesh in October 1978. Following her marriage to Mr Andrew Schachtel, she has continued to work abroad with Interserve. The Rev Aian Ferguson was ordained to the Methodist Ministry in 1980 and Mr Selwyn Black candidated for the

Ministry in the same year. In 1984 Mr David Acheson was accepted by MMS for work overseas: he taught in Waddilove High School, Marondera, Zimbabwe, from January 1986 until August 1991. Miss Daphne Twinem served with Christians Abroad from 1974 until 1977: she later served as Children's Secretary with the Youth Department from 1980 until 1986: from 1986 until 1990 she was on the staff of Grosvenor Hall, before candidating for the Ministry in 1990: she is currently serving in the Londonderry, Inishowen, Limavady and Strabane Mission, where she has particular responsibility for Strabane and Newbuildings. Mr Andrew Hinds was a member of the Youth Evangelism Team in 1987: in 1997 he was ordained as a pastor in the Baptist Church and is currently serving in Dewsbury, Yorkshire. In January 1991 Miss Ruth Twinem joined Overseas Missionary Fellowship and worked in Chefoo School, a school for missionaries' children, until her marriage to the Rev Dr Kenneth Wilson in 1997. In 1995, Mr Stephen Hancock, who had joined the congregation from England, entered the Methodist Ministry and is at present stationed in Waterford. Mr Colin Weir, who had come to live in Lisburn, candidated for the Ministry in 1996 and is now stationed in County Donegal. Miss Fiona Teeney was a member of TOM in 1998. Two young people from Seymour Street have recently - in 2000 - taken up full-time posts in the Church: Miss Gillian Best has been appointed Connexional Youth Evangelist and Miss Carole Rainey has become Lay Pastoral Assistant at Whiteabbey Methodist Church, with responsibility for the Methodist Chaplaincy at the University of Ulster at Jordanstown; interestingly, she succeeds Miss Best in that role.
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Mention was made in an earlier chapter of the contribution made by some of the members to the wider Methodist Connexion in Ireland.

During the past twenty-five years the following have held office in Connexional departments: Mr Griffith Black was Lay Treasurer of the Home Mission Fund; Mr L G Trevor Ferguson was Lay Treasurer of the Chapel Fund and the Church Extension Fund; Mr William Fullerton was a Governor of Gurteen Agricultural College; Mrs Miriam Gowdy was President of the YWA; and Mrs Pat Orr was General Secretary of the MWA.

Currently Mr Thomas G Wilson, formerly of Seymour Street, is Treasurer of the Ministers' Housing Society; Mr Tom Millar is Chairman of the Property Board; Mr Harold Baird is Lay Treasurer of the Property Board; Mr Joseph Edgar, a former Circuit Steward of Lisburn and Dromore, is Lay Treasurer of the Child Care Society; and Mr George Orr is Chairman of the Board of Governors of Edgehill Theological College.

The two Society Stewards have different responsibilities, one for finance and one for property:

In 1976 Mr William Gowdy was responsible for property. In 1981 he was succeeded by Mr Alex Acheson who was followed in 1983 by Mr Cyril Hinds. In turn, Mr Hinds was succeeded by Mr Winston Reynolds in 1989. Mr Reynolds was followed in 1992 by Mr Edwin Ferguson but unfortunately he resigned soon after, following the tragic death of his son, Andrew, in a road accident. Mr James Dumigan, the present Society Steward, took over during 1992.
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In 1976 Mr Desmond McCarthy was responsible for finance. Mr Adrian Nesbitt took on this role in 1980 and served until 1985 when he was followed by Mr Wilson Stewart. Mr Harold Baird succeeded Mr Stewart in 1991 and, in turn, was replaced in 1995 by the present Society Steward, Mr Lester Wood.

During the period under review the following have served as Freewill Offering Stewards: Messrs Willie Dougherty, Trevor Guy, Adrian Nesbitt, Victor Willis, Will Gowdy, Billy Monroe and Wilson Stewart. The current Stewards are Mr Nesbitt and Mr Monroe.

The Secretary of the Leaders' Board in 1976, Mrs Anne McBratney, was succeeded by Miss Amy Scandrett in 1978. Miss Scandrett was followed by Mrs Pat Orr in 1980. In 1984 Mrs Orr resigned and was replaced by Mr Stanley Lipscombe, who held office until 1993 when Mrs Cherry Guy was appointed. Mrs Guy, in turn, was succeeded by Mrs Anne McAdam, the present Secretary, in 1997.

Youth work has been given a very strong emphasis during the past quarter of a century. The uniformed organisations have been in existence for over seventy years; the Youth Club was formed in 1975 and the Shell Club commenced in 1978. The Youth Council had been formed in 1975 when the first Secretary was Mrs Liz Stewart, who was, in turn, succeeded by Mr Edwin Ferguson, Mr Colin Ferguson, Dr Lindsay Easson, Mr David McCall, Mr Michael McBratney and Mr Rodney McCrea, before the present Secretary, Mr Michael Quinn, took office in 1995.

In 1977 Mr Alex Acheson resigned as Sunday School Superintendent and was replaced by Mr George Orr. Mr Orr continued in the post until 1987, when he was succeeded by Dr Lindsay Easson. Mrs Marion Gill, the present Superintendent, followed Dr Easson in 1995.

Mrs Florrie Twinem continued in the office of Cradle Roll Secretary until 1982, when she was followed by Mrs Valerie Gray. Mrs Deborah Knox has been Cradle Roll Secretary since 1995.

Since 1976 there has been a Sunday evening meeting for teenagers. It has taken different forms and had different names. It had commenced as a Young People's CE Society in 1971 and had become less formal under the leadership of Mr and Mrs James Dumigan. In 1981 Mr and Mrs Eric Rainey took on the leadership of the Youth Fellowship. In 1984 they were succeeded by Mr and Mrs Wilson Stewart. The Youth Fellowship now rejoices in the name of SNASS (Sunday Night At Seymour Street). SNASS was led by Mr Hedley Abernethy when he was Youth Development Officer and is currently led by his successor, Miss Alison Templeton.

During the period under review there have been four BB Captains: Mr Eddie McClenahan retired in 1977 when he was replaced by Mr David Twyble. When Mr Twyble retired in 1988 he was followed by Mr Raymond Brown. In 1993 Mr Chris Allen, the present Captain, succeeded Mr Brown. During the same period there have also been four GB Captains. In 1979 Miss Kathleen McCullough resigned after having given twenty-five years' service. Mrs Sheila Millar succeeded her as Captain and served until 1982, when Mrs Gwen McMillan followed her. The present Captain, Mrs Karen Allen, has held the post since 1990. The Youth Club was led during its first ten years by Mr Edwin Ferguson. He was succeeded in 1985 by Mr and Mrs Reggie Johnston: they were succeeded in turn by Mr Michael Quinn and Mr Trevor Gill. Because of the demolition of the William Foote School the Youth Club did not meet during the 1999/2000 session. The Shell Club is currently led by Mrs Elaine Gill.

In 1983 Mr William Beckett resigned as Secretary of the Junior Missionary Association, after having given twenty-eight years' service in that capacity. He was succeeded by his niece, Mrs Adrienne Stewart. In 1988 this work was undertaken by Miss Marina Smith. The present Secretary, Mrs Christine McCafferty, has held the post since 1993.

Mrs Anne McBratney is currently responsible, at both Circuit and Society level, for the organisation of the World Development and Relief Fund. She took over that role in 1980, her predecessors being Mr Tom Millar and Mr Griffith Black.

The Light, originally a publication for Seymour Street, but soon becoming a Circuit magazine, was originally edited by Mr George Orr. Various people have since had responsibility for editing it, including Dr Ian Wells, Mrs Elsie Rowan, Mr Lester Wood and Miss Esther England. Mrs Pearl Reynolds, the present Editor, has been producing the magazine since 1992.

In 1977 Mrs Eleanor Monroe was appointed as part-time secretary to the Superintendent. The current holder of this post, Mrs Adrienne Stewart, was appointed in 1993.
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CHAPTER 16

1975-2000 - Property

Towards the end of the 1970s the Leaders were expressing concern about the cost of the upkeep of Ballyskeagh Hall. The work there had been ongoing since the opening of the Hall in 1927 but in recent times the numbers attending had dwindled; only a few children were enrolled in the Sunday School. By 1981 it was decided that it was unrealistic to continue with the work in Ballyskeagh and negotiations took place about its sale to a building consortium. Before anything was finalised the Department of the Environment offered 12,000 for the building and site. When this offer was accepted the DoE demolished the building in order to realign the Ballyskeagh Road.

The last twenty-five years have seen much work in the maintenance and enhancement of the property at Seymour Street. All of the buildings on the site are old and they have required a great deal of attention to ensure that they are maintained to a satisfactory standard. In addition to maintenance there have been changes to meet the needs of the present time, such as upgrading the kitchen in the manse and removing some pews in the church to make room for the Praise Group.

The manse was re-wired in 1982 and some years later, in 1987, substantial renovations were carried out. The kitchen was refurbished, a new breakfast room was created to replace a pantry and larder, and a toilet and shower room were added on the ground floor.

Changes have also been carried out in the church and church hall. Consideration had been given to enlarging the church in 1979 but after some discussion the suggestion to extend the church back into the vestry had been abandoned. A scheme to change the front of the church, including the provision of outer doors and the closing of the stair leading from the vestibule to the hall below, together with the provision of a choir room, a new kitchen, toilets to replace the old outside toilets, and a new stair-well leading to the choir room and vestry, was agreed in 1985. Originally the improvements were estimated to cost 65,000 but through Building Control requirements and other factors the cost escalated and when tenders were received the lowest was for 138,000 plus VAT and fees. A Special Leaders' Meeting was convened to deal with this emergency and it was agreed to review and reduce the scheme to a limit of 115,000: one casualty in the reduction was the proposed ramp to provide access for the disabled. The decision to exclude the ramp from the scheme was contentious and accepted by the members only on the understanding that its erection would be postponed rather than cancelled. The building work was completed - the eventual cost being 121,000 - and the new buildings were dedicated by the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Rev Sydney Frame, on 25 January 1987.

By 1993 there was a need to undertake the re-pointing of exterior brickwork in the church and a further building scheme was approved. As well as the re-pointing of the brickwork, it included the provision of the ramp, the upgrading of the church hall in order to obtain a fire certificate for an entertainments licence, the paving of an extended patio at the front entrance of the church, with a consequent realignment of the steps, the replacement of the heaters within the pews and, amongst other items, the provision of a toilet adjoining the vestibule. This work was completed in the Spring of 1994 at a cost of about 120.000.

For some time there had been complaints that it was difficult for some members of the congregation, particularly those seated beneath the gallery, to hear clearly and a new amplification system was installed in 1988. However, it proved less than satisfactory and was replaced by the present system in 1995.
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Some gifts greatly enhanced the beauty and comfort of the interior of the church. In 1985, Mr Stanley Orr presented a stained glass window in memory of his brother, Fire Officer Wesley Orr, BEM, killed on duty in a terrorist incident in 1978, his brothers, Samuel and Harry, and his sister. Elsie; and in 1997 he presented a second window in memory of his sisters, Agnes, Martha and Annie. Mr William Bennett had made a new lectern in 1982 and in 1988 he presented a new Communion Table and accompanying chairs. In 1986 a set of pew cushions was provided by Mr and Mrs Joseph Edgar. A plaque in memory of Andrew Ferguson, who had died tragically in a car accident, was placed in the vestibule and dedicated on 24 April 1994. It contains a record of all members of the BB Company who have received the award of the Queen's Badge.

In 1990 some of the pews adjacent to the vestry were removed to provide space for a piano and for the members of a musical group. As that group, under the leadership of Mr Paul Good, has developed into an orchestra and praise group, further space had to be created in 2000. A keyboard had been installed in 1997.

At the beginning of 1998 carpeting was purchased for the aisles in the gallery in order to reduce noise. Because of the partial collapse of the ceiling beneath the gallery in 1998, it was timber sheeted at a cost of 3,500.

Changes to, and the maintenance of, the car park area were also undertaken during this period. Access to the car park had always been hazardous; the main entrance, from Wesley Street, was a narrow passage between the Church Hall and the William Foote Memorial School. A second entrance had been created, leading from the privately-owned Eagle Terrace, but it, too, was narrow and potentially dangerous.

In 1977 a request was made to the Department of the Environment to replace the manse entrance by a new entrance from the Belfast Road through the manse garden, giving access to the car park and the manse garage. The DoE accepted the proposal for a fee of 150. Gates were erected to prevent the grounds being used as a through route to the Low Road. The new arrangement was a considerable improvement but

the exit to the Belfast Road was still considered dangerous. In 1990) the entrance was widened sufficiently to allow two cars to pass. After protracted negotiations with the DoE, traffic lights were installed in April 1997, greatly reducing the hazard of entering and leaving the church premises.

In 1990 the car park surface was tar-macadamized, through a generous gift from Mr and Mrs William Fullerton. Through voluntary labour, under the supervision of Mr Stanley Orr, a wall was built to separate the car park and the manse garden.

The William Foote Building had been refurbished in 1968, but the age of the building and consequent structural deterioration, together with its regular use by the various Church organisations, meant that its maintenance was a constant drain on resources. In 1985 a new kitchen had been installed in the Sally McCahey Room. Thereafter there were several sizeable items of expenditure to ensure that the building was fit for use. But it was a losing battle, constantly `throwing good money after bad', and matters came to a head when it was realised that the William Foote Building would need a completely new roof and considerable additional expenditure.

The Leaders' Meeting in December 1997 was informed that the cost of refurbishing the William Foote Building would be 265,000 while the cost of a replacement building would be 400,000. The Leaders decided that the provision of a new suite of buildings, purpose-built to meet the needs of the 21st Century, was the better option. Later, after consultations with the Rank Trust, which encouraged the Leaders to include a lift for the disabled and a direct link to the church, the estimated cost was increased to 475,000. As consideration was given to the needs of the Church and the community, the size of the building was significantly increased and the eventual cost was estimated at 660,000. Of this amount more than 20,000 was available in the Building Fund, 50,000 was provided by the Lisburn Peace and Reconciliation Partnership, almost 40,000 had been received through two legacies and 35.000 had been promised by the Rank Trust.

When, in May 1999, the William Foote Building was demolished in order to make room for the new suite of halls, it was an emotive experience for many who had attended school there. Opportunities were provided for all who had associations with the William Foote School to meet in the building for the last time and a short book, The William Foote School. A Short History and Reminiscences, was compiled by Mrs Pearl Reynolds.

The erection of the new buildings was entrusted to the firm of Messrs William Dowling, who completed the work in September 2000. It is planned that the new suite of buildings will be formally opened and dedicated on Saturday 21 October 2000. The new accommodation will provide fresh opportunities for service and witness
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CHAPTER 17

Trinity

TrinityEarly in 1981 the Lisburn and Dromore Circuit was approached by the Connexional Church Extension Committee to consider whether the Circuit would be interested in promoting a new Church Extension development in the Ballymacoss area of West Lisburn. The Circuit decided to investigate the potential of the area and to consider the implications.

To encourage the Circuit the Home Mission Fund gave a grant of 8,000 to pay off the debt on the manse at 57 Seymour Street (which had been used for a time for the third minister) and gave generous financial support to supplement the stipend of the third minister on the Circuit, who was given responsibility for Magheragall, which was perceived as the base from which outreach would be extended into the Ballymacoss area. As a result of an intensive house-to-house visitation of the area by the minister of Magheragall and its Church Leaders a comprehensive report was prepared and published in March 1983. It concluded that the time was not yet right for Church Extension in the area as there were insufficient homes built there to provide the population necessary to commence a Church in Ballymacoss.

By 1985 the situation was changing and a former Circuit Steward, Mr Joseph Edgar, presented a paper to the Seymour Street Leaders. It reported that building had commenced in the area and outlined the proposed housing developments and the need for Church Extension: included with the paper was a map which showed the suggested timing and phasing of future developments. One very significant suggestion was made in Mr Edgar's paper: that about a hundred or so families, who resided in or adjacent to the Ballymacoss area, should be invited, or persuaded, to leave Seymour Street and become the nucleus of a new congregation at Ballymacoss. The Seymour Street Leaders were agreed on the need to consider extension but were very wary of the proposed cost and the financial implications of the possible transfer of many of their members. Nevertheless they gave consent to the acquisition of a Church Extension site and recommended the erection of `a modest structure' on the chosen site. The proposed Church Extension was, of course, a Circuit venture but it was clear that it had most significance for Seymour Street as it was likely to attract Seymour Street members who lived in West Lisburn. The continuing planning was carried out at Circuit level but had the whole-hearted co-operation of the Seymour Street Leaders.

In the summer of 1985 Mr Alan Wardlow was appointed as Circuit Evangelist and given responsibility for promoting Church Extension. At the September Quarterly Meeting he reported that he had visited almost 400 homes in the area and that about 20% of those visited had expressed interest. It was decided to commence Sunday evening services in Drumard Community Centre. A Management Committee to oversee the new development was formed: it comprised the Superintendent, Lay Evangelist. Circuit Stewards and sixteen members, of whom nine were from Seymour Street. In March 1987 the new Minister, the Rev Leslie Spence, reported that about fifty to sixty people were attending the evening services in Drumard and that a Bible Study Fellowship had been formed; the people in the area were anxious to see a church erected. Progress on acquiring a site, however, had been delayed because it had not yet been decided whether there would be a Public Enquiry into the plan for the area.
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There followed about two years of frustration as, for one reason and another, decisions about the development of the area were delayed. When, in 1989, the plans had been finalised and work on building spine roads had been commenced, a more serious situation arose. Due to paramilitary violence which resulted in the death of a workman, all development work in the area was brought to a halt. In this climate of uncertainty, any plans for Church Extension had to be suspended. In 1991 at the March Quarterly Meeting concerns were being expressed that the momentum for Church Extension had been lost and that interest was confined to a very small group of committed Leaders. At the same meeting, however, it was reported that two sites had been earmarked for new churches in the area and that the DoE was willing to allocate one of them to the Methodist Church.

The opportunity to proceed with Church Extension after such a long period of delay and uncertainty focused the minds of the Leaders. A Discussion Paper was produced by the Circuit Finance and Policy Committee and considered by the Quarterly Meeting in June 1991. It outlined the case for a new Church, described the kind of Church that was needed, considered the building and site, suggested the steps to be taken and offered a vision for the future. In considering the future vision the Paper read: `In planning a Church, we should be guided by certain considerations: The Church should be established in accordance with God's purpose. The Church should seek to meet people's present and future needs. The Church should be in a right relation with the existing Churches and its formation should offer the opportunity to develop Methodism. The Church should be capable of becoming a major Lisburn Church. The Church should bring together God and people. To achieve a right vision we need to pray, plan and work with Him and with one another.' The issue was debated for almost two hours, many of the Leaders had concerns and the outcome of the discussion was inconclusive. It was decided to `consider' a new Methodist Church and the matter was referred to each of the Leaders' Boards in order that they might examine the implications for their own Societies. Because the need for a decision was urgent it was decided that a final decision should be made at the December Quarterly Meeting.

When the Quarterly Meeting was convened in December 1991 the responses to the Discussion Paper were generally very disappointing. There were no responses from the Broomhedge or Magheragall Societies and the Dromore Society did not respond as it felt `geographically out of the question'. The response from Seymour Street was poor: only 3 families had made a commitment to join the new Church and only 9 families had expressed interest. The one exception was the response from the Priesthill Society which not only strongly supported the venture, more than 40 people having expressed support by returning the reply slips, but also made a commitment of 10,000 towards the building of the new church. The Leaders were deeply divided about the wisdom of proceeding in the light of this disappointing response but were aware that they had committed themselves to making a final decision at the December Meeting. A compromise was reached and the final decision was deferred.

At the Quarterly Meeting in March 1992 it was decided to proceed in principle and to recommend the purchase of a site but it was agreed that fairly strict criteria must be met before any construction work would proceed. Following discussions with the Church Extension Committee and the DoE, a site of 2.5 acres was identified at an agreed cost of 70,000. There still remained a need to establish a committed group of people who would form the nucleus of the new development. It was reported in December 1993 that 11 people had expressed a wish to join the `West Lisburn' Church and give it their full support; 37 people had supported the establishment of the Church and agreed to support it by their gifts and prayers; a further 47 had promised to support the establishment of the Church, expressing willingness to help the new Church by participating in some of its activities, `either regularly or occasionally', while remaining as members of their own local Church. Although the total of 11 fully committed people was much fewer than had been expected it was decided go ahead in faith with the new Church, 34 of the 52 Leaders present voting in favour and no one voting against: the long saga of doubt, soul-searching and anxiety was at an end. The meeting paused for a time of prayer and thanksgiving.

But there was still much work to be done. The firm of Messrs S V W McCready & Co, Architects, was appointed to draw up plans and a time-table of progress was devised. The new project was to be launched in January 1994; during the Spring planning permission would be sought and tenders would be invited from contractors; building work would commence in the Summer and it was planned that the opening services would be held before Christmas 1994. After all the delay. it was a most ambitious time-table and, remarkably, the goal was achieved and the first service in the new church was a Carol Service on Christmas Eve!
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Fund-raising became a priority and the Leaders were greatly encouraged by the generosity of the Connexion. In addition to the purchase of the site, the Church Extension Fund offered a grant of 55,000 and Mission Ireland promised 9,00C each year for five years to assist with the staffing of the new Church; part of this was to provide a Lay Pastoral Assistant and Mrs Hazel Loney was appointed to this post. In addition. the Rank Trust made a generous donation of 35,000.

There was considerable discussion about the name of the Church. It had beer provisionally designated Knockmore Road Church (West Lisburn) but this was considered too cumbersome and various names were suggested. including Wesi Lisburn, Knockmore and Laurelhill. but finally it was decided that it should be called, simply, Trinity.

Church that was needed, considered the building and site, suggested the steps to be taken and offered a vision for the future. In considering the future vision the Paper read: `In planning a Church, we should be guided by certain considerations: The Church should be established in accordance with God's purpose. The Church should seek to meet people's present and future needs. The Church should be in a right relation with the existing Churches and its formation should offer the opportunity to develop Methodism. The Church should be capable of becoming a major Lisburn Church. The Church should bring together God and people. To achieve a right vision we need to pray, plan and work with Him and with one another.' The issue was debated for almost two hours, many of the Leaders had concerns and the outcome of the discussion was inconclusive. It was decided to `consider' a new Methodist Church and the matter was referred to each of the Leaders' Boards in order that they might examine the implications for their own Societies. Because the need for a decision was urgent it was decided that a final decision should be made at the December Quarterly Meeting.

When the Quarterly Meeting was convened in December 1991 the responses to the Discussion Paper were generally very disappointing. There were no responses from the Broomhedge or Magheragall Societies and the Dromore Society did not respond as it felt `geographically out of the question'. The response from Seymour Street was poor: only 3 families had made a commitment to join the new Church and only 9 families had expressed interest. The one exception was the response from the Priesthill Society which not only strongly supported the venture, more than 40 people having expressed support by returning the reply slips, but also made a commitment of 10,000 towards the building of the new church. The Leaders were deeply divided about the wisdom of proceeding in the light of this disappointing response but were aware that they had committed themselves to making a final decision at the December Meeting. A compromise was reached and the final decision was deferred.

At the Quarterly Meeting in March 1992 it was decided to proceed in principle and to recommend the purchase of a site but it was agreed that fairly strict criteria must be met before any construction work would proceed. Following discussions with the Church Extension Committee and the DoE, a site of 2.5 acres was identified at an agreed cost of 70,000. There still remained a need to establish a committed group of people who would form the nucleus of the new development. It was reported in December 1993 that 11 people had expressed a wish to join the `West Lisburn' Church and give it their full support; 37 people had supported the establishment of the Church and agreed to support it by their gifts and prayers; a further 47 had promised to support the establishment of the Church, expressing willingness to help the new Church by participating in some of its activities, `either regularly or occasionally', while remaining as members of their own local Church. Although the total of 11 fully committed people was much fewer than had been expected it was decided to go ahead in faith with the new Church, 34 of the 52 Leaders present voting in favour and no one voting against: the long saga of doubt, soul-searching and anxiety was at an end. The meeting paused for a time of prayer and thanksgiving.

But there was still much work to be done. The firm of Messrs S V W McCready & Co, Architects, was appointed to draw up plans and a time-table of progress was devised. The new project was to be launched in January 1994; during the Spring planning permission would be sought and tenders would be invited from contractors; building work would commence in the Summer and it was planned that the opening services would be held before Christmas 1994. After all the delay. it was a most ambitious time-table and, remarkably, the goal was achieved and the first service in the new church was a Carol Service on Christmas Eve!

Fund-raising became a priority and the Leaders were greatly encouraged by the generosity of the Connexion. In addition to the purchase of the site, the Church Extension Fund offered a grant of 55,000 and Mission Ireland promised 9,000 each year for five years to assist with the staffing of the new Church; part of this was to provide a Lay Pastoral Assistant and Mrs Hazel Loney was appointed to this post. In addition. the Rank Trust made a generous donation of 35,000.

There was considerable discussion about the name of the Church. It had beer provisionally designated Knockmore Road Church (West Lisburn) but this was considered too cumbersome and various names were suggested. including West Lisburn, Knockmore and Laurelhill. but finally it was decided that it should be called, simply, Trinity.

A very moving service took place on Sunday 3 July 1994 on the site of the new church. The congregation, from all parts of the Circuit, met in a cornfield and, in the words of the Superintendent Minister, the Rev Dr Ken Wilson, `claimed the land'. The foundation stone was laid by the President, the Rev E T I Mawhinney, on Saturday 10 September and he returned to perform the Opening Ceremony and dedicate the building on Saturday 4 March 1995. Mr Mawhinney's involvement was particularly fitting as he was the immediate former Superintendent of the Circuit.

The new Society needed a Leaders' Board and the contribution of Seymour Street to the venture was very clearly demonstrated by its membership. Of the fifteen members, thirteen were from Seymour Street: Mr and Mrs Murray Clynes, Mr and Mrs Willie Dougherty, Dr and Mrs Lindsay Easson, Mrs Kay Irvine, Mr and Mrs Nicholas Orr, Mrs Maud Reid, Mr and Mrs David Twyble and Miss Beverley White. The others were Mr Albert Wilson from Magheragall and Mrs Hazel Loney, Lay Pastoral Assistant.

Since Trinity has opened, several other families have moved from Seymour Street and made their spiritual home there. The flow of members to Trinity has been a challenge to Seymour Street. No society can lose so many active members without `feeling the draught'. But the challenge has been met, new leaders have emerged and many members have been welcomed into the Society to replace those who now worship and serve in what we are proud to see as our daughter Church.

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