Amid the multitude of happy memories that linger, two recollections are
particularly vivid. They are of the occasions when the Congregation came
together for the express purpose of demonstrating their loyalty and love to the
occupants of the manse. These gatherings were reported in the press at the time
and a friend has com�piled the following digests of the proceedings.
Members of the Maze Church met in full strength, together with some friends, on
nth October, 1925, in the Schoolhouse which was filled to overflowing. . The
object of the meeting was to do honour to Rev. Thomas Dunn, B.A., who had
completed twenty-five years in the pastorate. The tea-cups circulated and then a
good neighbour, Rev. R. G. McFarland, B.A. (Moira) took the chair. He said he
and Mr. Dunn had been life-long friends, and no more worthy subject was
ever the recip�ient of a congregation's esteem. He was delighted that Mrs. Dunn
was to be included in the honours as to her was due in large measure a great
deal of Mr. Dunn's ministerial success. Mr. R. J. Campbell read the formal
address and speeches of felicitation were delivered by Rev. H. J. Lilburn, of
Magheragall, Rev. J. H. Orr of Hillsborough and Rev. Wilson, the Methodist
Minister of Broomhedge.
Mr. Dunn expressed himself as being embarrassed and unworthy of such eulogies
but said be was deeply touched all the same by the people's devotion. He looked
back over the way he had come, and saw God's guiding hand in the ordering of his
life. His mother's wish and prayer had always been that he should be a minister
of the Gospel, and to her, humanly speaking, they owed the fact that he was in
the Ministry. He had not sought the Maze. His name was put on the list without
any application from him. He was acquainted with nobody, wrote to nobody, came
an entire stranger to preach his trial sermons. He recalled very well the long
walk from Hillsborough to the morning, and again to the evening diets of
worship, and how he went away having no inkling of what the hearers' reactions
had been to his efforts. Then came the call. He had been inexperienced when he
began his work among them, but they had been patient and bore him up by their
trust and affection. He said a heartfelt "Thank you" for innumerable
kindnesses over the years. He had been looking in the records and there were not
many families left who were at the formation of the congregation. In 1856, the
first year of which any record survived, there were ten baptisms, and of these
ten only one name was still on their roll. Six of the ten were Buchanan. Of the
names on the Communion roll in 1856 the only ones still repres�ented among them
were Kernaghan and Culbert. No doubt there were adherents in those days whose
names were not chronicled. But whether members of long or short standing, all
were animated by the same spirit of loyalty. If ever he should be tempted to
doubt this, the beautiful watch and chain would reassure him.
Mrs. Dunn, acknowledging the gifts made to her said it was eleven years since
she had come to Maze and they had made her very happy and she thanked them one
all. She said she knew she was what in America is called "a bit of a
hustler ", but they had not resented her brisk ways. Rather they had
rallied round. She had done what she could. And she had always enjoyed helping
in the Sabbath School, the Choir, the G.A. and W.M.A. and visiting the homes of
the people. She appreciated the gift of such a lovely cake-stand and set of
china, and the love behind them. She hoped the star of Maze, far from setting,
would wax ever brighter, and in conclusion called on all to pledge anew their
allegiance to the cause.
A clock was presented to Mr. Samuel Lyttle who had been treasurer for
twenty-five years, and an armchair to Mrs. Walker who had been compelled
to relinquish her office as sextoness owing to advancing years.
The choir under Mr. Wm. Lemon rendered some items very tastefully and Mrs. Auld
sang a solo with her usual charm.
A feature of the evening was the tribute in verse from the local bard, Mr. R. J.
Emerson of Culcavey. In a lengthy poem he turned over " memory's backward
page", and had many neat allusions to bygone worthies and happy days of
yore, concluding with references to the hero of that evening. The following were
among the stanzas that spoke of Mr. Dunn:
"I mind the day he was ordained,
A better never was obtained
By any Church in any place
Than him who does our pulpit grace.
On looking back upon that year,
I mind the spread they had laid here;
The time that was in feasting spent
In honour of that great event.
And when the clergy ate the roast
Someone proposed the usual toast-
'The Maze new Minister,' and said
A grand selection we had, made.
He is young, said be, but time will cure
That trouble and I'm certain sure,
In him you have a model man,'
True, moulded to the Heavenly plan.
These words I now repeat again,
His life and character remain
A living sermon, word and deed
Proclaim him loyal to his creed.
stewardship has been such that we
Have prospered most abundantly ;
We have grown is numbers year by year
Since Thomas Dunn was ordained here.
His friends are legion far and wide;
To us it is a personal pride
To recognise in our small way,
His worth and rare fidelity."
AND PRESENTATION TO
THOMAS DUNN, OCTOBER, 1925.
of Maze Presbyterian Church).
Mr. Dunn,-We, the members of Maze Presby�terian Church, gladly embrace this
opportunity, which the completion of your 25 years' ministry amongst us affords,
to give expression in a tangible way to the feelings of love and affection in
which you are held by the entire congregation.
We are fully conscious of our inability to pen words that would do justice to
your many special qualifications as a minister of the Gospel.
Since you came amongst us, a young, untried man, over 25 years ago, and assumed
the ministerial duties of this small and obscure country congregation, thanks to
your untiring energy and perseverance we have had a wonderful record of progress
During that period our membership has been trebled, and naturally there has been
a corresponding increase in all our contributions towards the different funds of
the Church ; indeed, our financial position to-day is recognised as one of
the soundest in the Presbytery of Dromore.
It is, however, in the spiritual rather than in the temporal sphere that under
you our progress has been most marked, as is shown by the very large number of
Communicants in proportion to the total number of members and adherents.
Your faithful, devoted, and consecrated life in the service of your Divine
Master is a fruitful source of inspiration to us all, and your sermons are at
all times and on all occasions, marked by an earnestness peculiarly your own,
and betray clear and convincing proof of careful and painstaking preparation.
The high standard of evangelical preaching which you set before you at the
outset has been conscientiously maintained throughout the past 25 years of your
You are always a welcome and sympathetic visitor to our homes, while in the sick
chamber and at times of bereavement your prayers, and your faithful and tender
words, under the blessing of God, never fail to bring consolation and comfort.
The young find in you a very special friend and guardian, and it would not be
possible to measure the influence on their future lives that your work amongst
them must eventually produce in the years that lie ahead.
have reason to thank God for all these blessings and for you His saintly servant
who occupies our pulpit and who so earnestly and eloquently, both by precept and
by example, points the way Heavenward.
While we fully appreciate your worth and Christian character we are not
unmindful of Mrs. Dunn, to whose quiet influence must be attributed a great deal
of your ministerial success.
We value very highly her lofty ideals and recognise her worth during the years
in which she has taken a prominent part in the varied work of the Congregation.
In asking your acceptance of this Gold Watch and Chain and accompanying Wallet,
we humbly confess that these gifts are in no way commensurate with, or worthy
of, the occasion.
We also ask Mrs. Dunn to accept this Set of China as a small token of our
affectionate regard and esteem.
We ask you both to receive these Gifts, not, because of their intrinsic value,
but as a token of love and loyalty from the Congregation of Maze.
We pray that God's richest blessing may ever rest upon you and those you love,
and that you may be long spared in health and strength to continue your soul�
saving work in the vineyard of your Master, the King of Kings and Lord of lords.
We remain, Dear Mr. Dunn,
Your sincere Friends and Fellow-workers.
(Signed on behalf of Session),
R. J_ Emerson, Secretary.
REV. MR. DUNN's
Dear Friends, -In
acknowledging these beautiful and costly Gifts, on behalf of myself and my wife,
I cannot express the gratitude that fills our hearts at the remembrance of God's
goodness in casting our lot amongst a people so generous and sympathetic.
It is almost impassible to realise that for 25 years we have been associated
together as minister and people.
I came to you an untried minister, and you at once gave me your confidence and
affection, which have never been withdrawn.
The words you use in reference to my work among you are far too flattering. I
thank you for them, and for the love which prompted them, but I can only take
them as the expression of your ideal of what a minister should be.
Never was minister called to labour among a more loyal and devoted people, and
it has been a great joy to know that year after year God has been bestowing upon
us increasing blessing.
Your attendance and attention at Church have been an inspiration ; your
willingness to give of your means and your service on behalf of the work of God
is above praise. You seem indeed to be ever willing to spend and be spent for
anything that is for the good of our beloved Zion.
We did not need these beautiful Gifts to assure us of your affection and esteem.
Constantly have you been, giving us tokens of these, and it has been a great
delight to us to know that any little we have been able to do has been so much
all my heart I thank you for this beautiful and costly Watch and Chain, and
accompanying Wallet; and on behalf of Mrs. Dunn, I thank you for this chaste and
expensive Set of China ; and I trust that you may all be long spared to work
together for the Kingdom of God, and that you will find your chiefest joy in the
That God's richest blessing may be upon you all and upon all your homes is the
sincere Friend and Pastor,
PRESENTATION TO MRS. DUNN, OCTOBER, 1925.
Dear Mrs. Dunn,- We, the members of Maze G.A. Said Women's Association, would
like to take this oppor�tunity of thanking you for all you have been to our
Auxiliary since its commencement in 1923, and to give "honour where honour
is due." In every department of our church work, you do your part nobly and
well, but we think it is in our G.A. YOU are seen at your best. Not only are you
enthusiastic yourself, but you have the power to enthuse others.
When we meet together in the winter months in your dining-room we are
always sure of a hearty wel�come, a warm fire, and good light.
For all your kindness and helpfulness we do thank you, and we pray that you may
be long spared to carry on the work to which you devote so much time and energy.
We would ask you to accept this Cake‑Stand as a very small token of the
love, appreciation, and contin�uous affection of every G.A. member. May we say
in closing, that--
hope when our G.A. comes to tea
This stand may never empty be.
MRS. DUNN'S REPLY.
Dear Members of the Women's Association and of the Girls' Auxiliary, - I thank
you with all my heart for your kind words and lovely gift.
Nearly three years ago when I first seriously thought of starting a G.A. in
Maze, I was told it never could be done in a little country Church like ours.
in May, 1923, I thought I would try what the Maze girls could do, and you have
never disappointed me yet.
I should say that all honour is due to the G.A. Members, who have all worked so
enthusiastically and well, some of you coming so far after your day's work.
It is always a great pleasure for me to have you in the Manse Dining-room.
When we meet together the time seems all too short, for we seem to be like a
jolly happy family.
I again thank you for your expression of love and appreciation, and for your
Gift of this beautiful Silver Cake-Stand.
And that we may all be long spared to work together to help in some way to
extend our Master's Kingdom is the sincere wish of your friend,
Almost fifteen years have rolled by, and the minister's family have grown up around
him. There is another muster of the Presbyterians of Maze, and the school�house
is once more filled for a social gathering. There has been much preparation and
everything possible has been done to make the occasion a memorable one. The
atmosphere differs somewhat though from that on the earlier one. Great Nations
are contending for supremacy. The `phoney war' has made a background of anxiety
and uneasiness. It is not so much the baneful shadow of war, that falls athwart
the proceedings at Maze, however, as another cloud. That which pulls at the
heartstrings of many this night is an imminent separ�ation. Rev. Thomas Dunn,
after forty years` steadfast service in the place feels the time has come for him
to make way for a younger man. And this function is in the nature of a farewell.
And so, though there is banquet and song, the pleasure is tinged with pain and
there are undertones of sadness in that festive fellowship on this April evening
of the year 1940.
Those shortly going away are not being allowed to leave without souvenirs and
mementoes of the people's affection and of the happy years spent in Maze. There
was a beautiful chiming clock and a well-filled wallet of treasury notes
for Mr. Dunn and a handsome mahogany writing bureau for Mrs. Dunn. The G. A. gave
Mrs. Dunn a writing-case and Miss Annabel Dunn, a handbag. The B.A. gave a
suitcase to Wallace Dunn and there was a music case for Campbell Dunn.
Of course there was tea, a dainty and satisfying one, dispensed by a bevy of
ladies, i.e. Mrs. W. Anderson, Mrs. J. Auld, Mrs. W. Auld, Mrs. J. Bell, Mrs. R.
J. Bell, Mrs. J. Tease, Mrs. D. J. Buchanan, Mrs. W. Carrothers, Mrs. G.
Williamson, Mrs. R. J. Emerson, Miss A. Buchanan, Miss E. Lyttle, Miss K. Blair,
the Misses Molly and Margie Anderson, the Misses Willow and Anna Fullerton, and
the Misses Eileen Peggy, and Renee Emerson.
The Rev. J. H. Orr B.A. of Hillsborough was voted into the chair, and he said it
was an honour to be asked to direct such important proceedings. He referred to
Mr. Dunn's increasing labours in that comer of Christ's vineyard. He was laying
down his guns with no cause for regret in a race well run and a work well done.
He was leaving the Congregation of Maze in first-class order.
John McKay made a statement about the purpose behind the gathering, and
testified to the unanimity, the spontaneity, the generosity of the people when
the idea of the presentation was mooted.
Mr. S. Lyttle Senr., Mrs. Buchanan, Mrs. Emerson made over the gifts to Rev. and
Mrs. Dunn, Miss Willow Fullerton handed over the Girls' Auxiliary gifts, and
Messrs. William Anderson and Laurence Martin handed over the Boys' Auxiliary
tokens to the brothers Dunn. With many felicitous words, expression was given by
all parties to the cordial relationships that had existed between the manse
folks and the various organisations. Speeches were made by visiting clergymen-Mr. Rankin of Legacurry, Mr. Kelso of Boardmills, Mr. Doonan
(the Methodist Minister at Broomhedge), and Rev. Nevin Lyons of Grosvenor Road
Reformed Church and Rev. James McCammon M.A. (Manchuria) -repeated rounds
of applause indicating that the audience heartily endorsed their sentiments of
Mr. Dunn in his reply said the references to him were too flattering. He
described himself as just a plain blunt man " but he had loved his people
and he had tried to do his duty by them. They had borne patiently with him when
he came forty years ago, a raw inexperienced youth, and all through the years
their loyalty had been firm. He thanked God for all His goodness to him and his
household, for the considerateness of the people, the close collaboration of the
office-bearers, for all the happy years in that quiet, beautiful district.
He could not have done so much but for the inspiring help and watchful care of
Mrs. Dunn. Now he must leave them, but the Maze would ever be to him one of the
dearest spots on earth. He hoped for them a speedy and harmonious settlement,
and bade them go forward courageously in the confidence that "the best is
yet to be".
So closed a chapter in Maze history. It was a solemn occasion and Mr. Emerson's
muse did not fail him. The following are some apt quartrams from his poetical
speech, and they serve well to round oft this chapter:
While we regret, the die is cast,
And we perforce must lose
A pastor dear without a peer,
We bless the work he chose.
He laboured here for forty years
With very marked success,
With words inspired he ever tried
Redeeming grace to stress.
For us his loss means such a cross,
A blow that seems too hard;
Our thoughts will roam to his new home
With tender, warm regard.
as we grieve that he should leave,
Our hopes sink like the sun,
With heavy heart we surely part
With him and Mrs. Dunn.
Close by his side she always tried
To aid him in the cause,
To organise an enterprise,
Her genius left no flaws.
sweetly coo a speech from you,
No rivals in the art;
A gift her own, entire alone,
God bless her mother's heart.
That personal touch, we'll miss so much,
The family of three,
No vain conceit when we would meet
But honest, frank and free.
bless them all, I could recall
So many happy days,
But not to-night, dim burns our light,
The shadows fall on Maze."
visitation can have a sinister sound, but when a Presbytery meets for a
visitation it is nine times out of ten a happy occasion. Sometimes people ask
"are these visitations really necessary?" They are mostly a routine
and a formality, but the machinery is there if any awkward situation calls for
close investi�gation. Happily that is rarely. The visitations do, however, help
to keep Congregations "up to scratch ", And when the brethren assemble
and probe and scrutin�ize and give their judgment, it is a careful statement.
They foregathered in Maze in October, 1935, and the following are the minutes
1st October, 1935
------------ Rev. Wm. J. McClure, B.A.
Rev. Thos. Rodgers
reported that hE had announced the visit, and that Messrs. Samuel Lyttle, and
David J. Buchanan had been appointed to represent the Kirk� Session and Messrs.
J. D. Johnston and R. J. Emerson the Congregational Committee. All these
representatives were present.
The Presbytery is gratified to find abundant signs of life and prosperity. They
find that the Rev. Thos. Dunn discharges all his duties with diligence, zeal and
great acceptance. The attendance at the service in the Sanctuary, is very
encouraging. The Praise Service is
rendered with heartiness and reverence. The average attendance at the S.S. is
very commendable. The number of communicants on the Roll is small compared with
the numbers attending Public Worship, and the Presbytery would urge upon all the
members of the Congregation the importance of confessing their Saviour at the
Lord's 'table, and of maintaining family worship in their homes. They cordially
commend the efforts that are being made for the provision of the poor and
destitute and for keeping them in connection with the Church by means of
quarterly retiring collections. They are glad to think that the Session co-operates
with the Minister in the spiritual work of the Congregation and they believe
that the unanimity with which the work is prosecuted has created an atmosphere
favourable to the growth of the Kingdom of God both in the Congregation and in
the community. They rejoice that Christian stewardship is duly inculcated and is
bearing fruit in the givings to the various missions. They believe that some
organisation in the congregation for the promotion of temperance would be a
valuable asset to the community. It reflects the utmost credit on both Minister
and people that the Church property has been repaired and decorated in such a
tasteful and becoming manner.
They are gratified to note that since the last visitation so many bequests have
been made by former members, testifying to their evident loyalty to the Church.
The Presbytery commend the Minister and people of this Congregation to the Grace
of God and they appoint the Rev. R. G. McFarland to attend at the Maze Church on
a convenient Sabbath to read this finding and address the people thereon.
The promise of Spring had changed to the opulence of Summer, and Summer's glory
was beginning to yield to the tawny dress of Autumn, the sickle had been put to
the waving corn, and, farther off, war's rumbles and reverberations were growing
more intense, when the vacancy at Maze drew to an end, and Presbytery and people
assembled on Wednesday, fifth September, 1940 for the ordination of Mr. Thomas
Alexander Noble Parker, the duly selected choice of the Congregation. Mr. Parker
is the son of the late Mrs. Parker, 65 Clarendon Street, Londonderry and the
late Mr. Alex. Parker, Tullygay, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal. At Magee College he
won the Houston scholarship and the Dickey Prize for Hebrew and other
distinctions, thus giving evidence of ability. He took his theological course at
Magee, Princeton (U.S.A.), and Assembly's College, Belfast. He graduated in arts
at Trinity College, Dublin in 1937. For the ten months prior to his ordination
he was assis�tant to Rev. Culbertson Jackson, B.Sc. in Crescent Church,
Devotional exercises were conducted by the Moder�ator of Presbytery - Rev. F.
S. K. Jamison, B.A. of Dromara and Rev. T. Dunn, B.A. (Senior Minister). The
sermon was preached by Rev. D. J. Creelman, B.A. of Loughaghery from 1 Cor. XV.
58, who said that in days like these when their country's fate hung in the
balance, and the peril of invasion was a real one, they must be stedfast. The
virtue needed supremely was courage. And they must even now look forward to the
return of peace and plan that its foundations be based on Christ's teaching.
The Clerk, Rev. W. J. Latimer B.A. of Ballycairn, read the relevant sections of
the Code, and Mr. Parker answered the prescribed questions and signed the formula.
The ordination prayers were offered by Rev. C. Jackson of Crescent and Rev. J.
C. Greer, M.A. of Strand, Londonderry. Then Rev. T. J. K. Rankin delivered a
masterly charge, and urged Mr. Parker first to be a man, and secondly to be a
man of God, and thirdly to be ever about his Master's business. Let him
specialise where inclination and aptitude directed, but a country minister is a
general practitioner, there is a mass of routine. Irk�some duties have to be
attended to. Let him compel himself to do the uninteresting things. " Never
be above your business, and, whatever you do, do heartily." He assured the
young minister that he was coming to a kindly community, and in fortunate
circumstances, and he could count on the goodwill of his brethren; but it was
his first charge, he was a stranger among strangers, and under such conditions a
prudent man looketh well to his going. Mr. Rankin urged the Congregation to give
the new pastor their loyally without grudge or reserve.
Miss Anna Emerson presided at the organ, and the large audience included Mrs.
Parker, the Minister's mother, his brother Mr. W. G. Parker, A.C.A. and his
younger sister Miss E. Parker.
Subsequent to the service there was a luncheon in the schoolhouse. A goodly
company sat down to the ample viands. When all had partaken of the plenty
provided, the usual toasts were honoured, and there was the spate of oratory
customary on such occasions. The principal toast was received with much
enthusiasm, and all listened with rapt attention as Mr. Parker replied. On this
proud day he acknowledged indebtedness to many friends and helpers and chiefly
he was grateful to God, Who had led him.
Standing on the summit of the hill, it was not un�natural, he said, for him to
lake a backward glance, and view with deep and earnest thankfulness to God, the
road He had brought him "o'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent". He
owed much to the influences of his Christian upbringing, lauded his home and
parents and friends. His old ministers were honourably mentioned ‑Rev.
Ross Miller of Letterkenny who had always taken a deep interest in him, and Rev.
John Carson Greer to whose scholarly sermons he had later listened Sabbath by
Sabbath in Strand Church. Touching upon his College days he said he had " a
very warm affection for old Magee" had gained valuable experience from his
Transatlantic journey and sojourn at Princeton, and remarked of his final
session taken in the divinity halls at Belfast, that the professors took a
personal interest in the students which was palpable and precious. Then he had
gone to Crescent as assistant. A kindly people received him with open arms into
their homes and he carried from those days only the pleasantest memories. His
chief, Mr. Jackson, treated him as a colleague, and set him a high example. Then
came the unanimous call from Maze. He thanked the Convener, Rev. J. Herbert Orr,
B.A. for all his kindnesses and Maze for its confidence in him. He brought no
new gospel, but would interpret the old Evangel in the light of to‑day's
conditions and needs.
Many eloquent tributes were paid to the new minister, and many good wishes
expressed for the settlement consummated that day. Among those who spoke were
Principal J. E. Davey, Rev. C. Jackson, Rev. J. C. Green, Rev. T. Dunn, Rev.
Nevin Lyons and Mr. Wan. Mateer (Belfast) and Mr. Ross Greer (Derry). Mr. R. J.
Emerson not only responded to a toast, that of Maze Congregation, -doing
it in verse too-something rare on such occasions, but he had also
responsibility for arranging the lunch, and he had managed everything most
There was a Social at night to welcome the new Minister when the members of the
B.A. and G.A. con�tributed the programme.
Under the new dispensation the affairs of Maze Church go along steadily. The
property has been further improved. Mr. Parker discharges his duties diligently,
takes his share of the wider work of the Presbytery, and first assisted and then
succeeded Rev. T. J. K. Rankin, M.A. in the work which the latter had over many
years done with such conspicuous efficiency in connection with religious
instruction in day schools.
I have essayed to put on paper the story of Maze Church. It is a bare outline.
It touches only upon the externals and the big occasions. More happened than can
be chronicled here. Sabbath by Sabbath, week by week, the Spirit of God was at
work in the sessions of silent thought, in the deep heart's core, in the private
lives of those who sought to know God's Will and to walk in His Ways. The
Recording Angel has entered in the Book of Gods remembrance the story of the
saints of Maze, of this one's anonymous kindnesses, of that one's unsuspected
valour, of still another's quiet, brave endurance. Their faith and love are set
down in the archives of Heaven if not here.
And as to the future, -may there ever be staunch souls to serve the Sanctuary
here, and in this place may the Redeemer's glory be manifested.