THE SCHOOL AND MANSE.
From the first, Mr. Stevenson set about making the most of his opportunities and
consolidating his successes. He recognised that the congregation's future
depended on the careful shepherding of the young, and in 1857 he established a
Sabbath School in which, after seven years, twelve teachers week after week,
imparted heavenly lore to some fifty children. Them was no evening diet of
worship, and the Sabbath School which met 'in the afternoon was
interdenominational and some of the teachers came from the Episcopal and
Methodist camps. A feature was the library of good and useful volumes. It was
Dr. Alex Whyte of Edinburgh who said "I have a great faith myself in the proper
books. I shall owe my own soul, if it is saved at last, to the proper books."
Mr. Stevenson shared that faith in the power of good literature and he rendered
the community a service when he amassed and made available a collection of
wholesome and inspiring books.
He was concerned too for the Church praise and a singing class was formed. A
precentor was appointed and the first to fill this office was Samuel Barr.
The first baptism recorded was that of Margaret Carlisle on the 15th April,
The Communion roll of Maze dates back to the same year and gives the number at
the first observance as
twenty-two, among whom were Wm. and Margaret Kernohan, Mary A. O'Neil, Jane
Convery, Hugh Robin�son, Wm. Carlisle, Robert Culbert, John Shaw, Robert Howey,
A minute of the Committee dated 15th March, 1860, informs us that Trevor Phenix
was appointed "sexon" and collector of Stipend at the annual remuneration of �3.
The Presbyterian Church has always been in the van of Educational advance. It
has stood for the en�lightenment of the people. It has never feared the light
but has regarded darkness and ignorance as two of the chief obstacles to
progress and enemies of the Kingdom. And Mr. Stevenson was deeply imbued with
this charac�teristic Presbyterian attribute. He felt that a Sabbath School was
not enough. He set himself to secure a day school also. The National Education
Act had been passed forty years previously, but there was no national school in
the immediate vicinity, and there seems to have been a great prejudice against
such a system. There was a school at Newport, and the Maze No. 2 School was an
Erasmus Smith foundation. When the talk started about one for alongside Maze
Church, feeling became high. As. soon as the project was mooted, forces of
opposition began to mobilise and many were prepared to fight against the scheme
and foil it all costs! Bands promenaded and in lieu of better arguments the
dominion of din was invoked by the opposition. There was even intimidation and
those known to be stalwart supporters of the new scheme were in danger of
violence! The infant mortality rate among good ideas has always been too high,
but the idea of the school was not allowed to fade out. The movement was virile
and triumphed over drawbacks. The General Assembly in 1872 made a grant of �60
from one of its funds for the erection of a School House, which took shape next
year, and in September 1875 classes began. Recognition of the new seminary as a
national school came in the following month. The people rallied round. The
opposition had resulted in closing the ranks of the champions of learning and in
making them all the keener. And soon the school became the best and largest in
In the very year that the School was erected, Mr. Stevenson secured from the
General Assembly a grant of �100 to build a new Manse. At the end of 1873 or the
beginning of 1874 the sum of �400 was borrowed under the Glebe Loan Act, so
probably the Manse was put up in 1874. Church, School, Manse, these three
construc�tions are enduring monuments to Mr. Stevenson's perseverance and
unceasing activity. Of course they were not as they are now. The outside of all
three was - as the School continues to be - of brick and mortar. In the case of
the Church the pulpit was elevated above the present one and was entered from
the room above the vestry. The heating apparatus was introduced later. None the
less Mr. Stevenson's work was a noble one. From the green sod rose these three
buildings, and to meet the expense of them he collected far and wide� quite a
number of times visiting Scotland, and, wonderful to relate! - returning with
large sums. The Scots are said to be canny, but perhaps their reputation in this
respect is more a fiction than a fact. Or it may be that the Mother Church felt
an oblation to assist this her youngest offspring in the Emerald Isle. Or
perhaps Mr. Stevenson's charm of personality and persuasive advoc�acy of his
cause were the main influences in loosening purse strings and unsealing
fountains of liberality. At any rate he amassed the " sinews of war" and the
finan�ces were forthcoming. The local people did their part valiantly. On 25th
September 1887, a supreme effort, was made to liquidate the amount still against
the congregation by reason of the loan aforementioned and the purchase of the
ground. Dr. Hanna of Belfast was special preacher, and the offering brought in
the necessary sum.
It will be interesting to some to know that at one time Mr. Stevenson wore a
gown presented to him by the ladies of the congregation.
Mr. Stevenson took to wife Miss Phoebe Simpson of Boardmills.
The anxious arduous years began to take toll of Mr. Stevenson's health. While he
had been instrumental in raising the buildings, he had also been assiduous in
the discharge of his pastoral duties, ministering faithfully to the spiritual
needs of those over whom be had the oversight. His kindness of heart and
sympathy and diligence left their impress for good in many quarters. He showed
forth his Master's praises and pressed His claims. "He allured to brighter
worlds and led the way." But after a-time failing health vetoed too strenu�ous
activity and he was forced to slacken the pace. Eglantine too had been built by
the Mulholland family and its sittings, which were free to all, drew a-number of
Presbyterian families into the Episcopal fold, to the considerable depletion of
Maze. Feeling himself unable to contend adequately with the duties of his office
by reason of failing vigour, Mr. Stevenson obtained leave of the Presbytery to
retire. This was on 9th April 1889, and on 2nd July of that year he relinquished
active duties. Some seventeen months later Mr. Stevenson left these earthly
scenes and passed and to the realm beyond.
REV. EDWARD STEVENSON.
The following items from the
transactions of the Presbytery will give some indication of Mr. Stephenson's
work and worth.
At a Meeting of the Dromore Presbytery in Second Lisburn Congregation on August
12th 1879, Rev. Edward Stevenson presided, as Moderator.
Rev. Mr. Dobbin announced the next visitation to take place at the Maze and that
Messrs. Greer, Boal and Nelson were appointed to represent the Session, and
Messrs. Wm. Gardner and Stockman to represent the Committee. The following is an
account of the finding of the Visitation of the Maze Church-
" This Presbytery desires to express its great satis�faction with the answers
given to the various questions, and their thankfulness to God for the marked
success that has attended the labours of their brother Mr. Stevenson in
originating and maintaining a congregation at the Maze, building such an elegant
and commodious Church, Manse, and Schoolhouse, and clearing off such a large
proportion of the debt which amounted to about �2000. They rejoice to tears that
so many of the people attend with regularity to the the services of the
sanctuary ; that there is such a large and flourishing Sabbath School ; and that
the hands of the Minister are strengthened by the elders, and some of the
younger members of the congregation, in Sabbath School instruction. Whilst,
however, they commend the liberality of the people as seen by their
contributions to the Sustentation Fund, and the Missions of the Church, they
would strongly urge that the claims of the pastor to a more generous support
should be encouraged, and that an effort should be made at once to have the
stipend materially increased, and that their minister should as soon as possible
be relieved from the payment of the interest on �400 due on the Manse under the
Globe Loan Act.
They recommend that a treasurer and Secretary should be appointed who should
collect and keep up the various accounts. They further recommended that family
worship should be observed. Upon the whole, however, and considering how many
difficulties the congregation and their minister have had to contend with, the
Presbytery desire to speak in terms of high commendation of both office bearers
and people, and especially of the zeal and energy of the Minister to where whole
efforts, and self‑denying labours much of the property of the congre�gation,
under God, is due."
Rev. Mr. Browne was appointed to exchange pulpit, with Mr. Stevenson and read
the finding and address the people on the subjects which it contains.
The Presbytery of Dromore at a Meeting in Second Lisburn on December 23rd 1890,
received from the commission appointed to draw up a minute in reference to the
death of Mr. Stevenson.
The following is the Minute
which wag to be inserted on the minutes (of Presbytery) and a copy to be sent to
the Children, viz :
"The Presbytery of Dromore, at this first meeting after the death of the Rev.
Edward Stevenson, desire to express and place permanently on their records their
high appreciation of his Christian character and worth. From his earliest years
in a quiet and unobtrusive manner he served the Master Whom he loved, and to
Whom his life was consecrated. He did good as he had opportunity. By his efforts
a congregation was organised at the Maze over which he was ordained about,
thirty-six years ago. He was the means of building, and almost freeing of debt,
a beautiful Church, a Schoolhouse, and a Manse.
He lived the Gospel which he preached. He was honest and sincere in all his
dealings, and whilst ever true to Presbyterian principles, was so catholic in
his views that all evangelical denominations appreciated and loved him. He
respected the rich, and honoured the noble of the land, but he always encouraged
them, and that successfully, to give of their means to promote God's Cause. He
loved the poor, and by his own generous benefactions made them feel that the
Gospel of Christ, of which he was a preacher and exponent, was intended for
their temporal as well as their eternal well-being. In the Meeting of
Presbytery, his honest and outspoken opinions were always respected and
appreciated. He lived and died an humble, persevering, and successful labourer
in the Master's vineyard.
He leaves behind a family of three promising children, and whilst the Presbytery
commend them to the God of Orphans, they also would commend them to the sympathy
and prayers of God's people. Mr. Steven�son is gone, but his work and his
influence remain. Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from hence�forth
- for they rest from their labours, and their works do tollow them.' "
REV. HUGH MACKENZIE
Rev. H. A. Mackenzie was ordained on November 16th, 1889 as assistant and
successor, but Mr. Stevenson only remained Senior Minister one month and died on
11th December, 1890.
The following is a report from the Newsletter dated Saturday November
"The Rev. H. A. Mackenzie, a licentiate of the Route Presbytery, was yesterday
ordained to the pastorate of Maze Presbyterian Church, and there was a large
congregation consisting of all the members of the Church and their friends.
A most eloquent sermon was preached by Rev. Charles Donaldson, while the Rev.
Mr. Hamill expounded and defended the Presbyterian form of Church Govern�ment,
and Rev. Mr. Moorhead delivered We charge to the Minister and people, and
pronounced the benediction.
At 3 o'clock a large company sat down to dinner under the presidency of Rev. J.
Meeke - Toasts were given:-
(1) Lord Lieutenant and Prosperity to Ireland' -responded to by Rev. A. Dobbin.
(2) "General Assembly" - by Rev. Wm. Park.
(3) "Newly ordained Minister" - by Rev. H. A. Mackenzie.
(4) "Our Colleges" - by Professor Robinson.
Mr. Mackenzie entered on the work with great energy and enthusiasm. He found the
Church and Manse in great need of repairs, and set about raising the necessary
sum. The Congregation subscribed �43 10 0. �29 were raised by collecting‑boxes.
Special Services raised almost �60, and �189 from friends outside the
Congregation. In all about �327 were raised. The Church was completely renovated
inside and outside, a new floor was put in, and a new pupit erected. Heating
apparatus was instal�led; and the outside of the Church and Manse was cemented,
and stone‑finished. Some repairs were done to the Manse and the Manse grounds
Mr. Mackenzie's active and enthusiastic efforts not only bore fruit in renovated
buildings, but the congre�gation increased.
But his stay in Maze was brief. On 24th March he accepted a call to Balteagh -
and was succeeded by the Rev. Robert Whan, who was ordained on September 16th
REV. ROBERT WHAN
"Yesterday, 16th September 1891, the Presbytery of Dromore ordained Mr. Robert
Whan, licentiate of the Dungannon Presbytery to the pastoral oversight of Maze
Presbyterian Church, vacant for some time past owing to removal of the former
minister (Rev. Mr. Mackenzie) to Balteagh, Co. Derry.
Several ministers from other Presbyteries joined their brethren of the Dromore
Presbytery, and the con�gregation turned out in considerable numbers. After
praise and prayer, the Rev. W. C. Steele, the recently ordained minister of the
Hillsborough Presbyterian Church preached from the text 1 Kings 20:40, "And as
thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone."
Rev. Wm. Browne of Legacurry defended Presby�terianism. The questions of the
Code having been put to Mr. When, and duly answered he subscribed the
Westminster Confession of Faith, and was solemnly set apart to the Ministerial
office by the laying on of hands; the Rev. Mr. Wilson of Dungannon offering the
The Rev. Samuel Graham of Moira delivered the Charge to the Minister and
Congregation. It was full of point and power, and was all through earnest in
The Benediction having been pronounced, the Service concluded. At 3 o'clock the
members of the Dromore and other Presbyteries, as well as a number of
licentiates and friends sat down in the adjoining schoolroom to an excellent
dinner. Rev. T. M. Hamill, Moderator of the Dromore (Presbytery presided, The
usual Ordination Toasts were given."
Since 1874 the debt of �400
received on lean under the Glebe Loan Act had been
a very heavy burden upon the Congregation. �20 per year had to be paid.
This sum, Mr. Whan set himself to meet. But in addition a great storm in
December 1894 unroofed the Manse offices, and did great damage to the property.,
In the appeal Mr. Whan put afterwards before the public, it was estimated that
�140 would be required to make the repairs.
The congregation contributed �80. Collecting Cards were issued. A Quilt scheme
was got up, and the neces�sary sum was raised. �400 was invested, the interest
of which paid the annual premium to the Board of Works.
The offices were re-roofed. The Manse was stone�-finished with cement. But this
was a small part of Mr. When's work. -
His genial personality and kindly disposition, won for Christ and His Church a
kindly place in many hearts. His brief ministry was cut short by his greatly
lamented death on 14th November, 1899.
Shortly before Mr. Whan's
death he went to the United States of America to collect funds towards the debt
on the Church buildings. He had only arrived there when he had to return home
ill, and passed away shortly afterwards to the sorrow of all.