Maze Presbyterian Church

A Short History
Rev. Thomas Dunn B.A. 1949



Part 4


     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 and 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.

His 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."

    Goto Top




(Minister of Maze Presbyterian Church).


    Dear 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 and prosperity.

    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 active ministry.

    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.

    We 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.
         R. J. Campbell.

  Goto Top


  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 appreciated.

    With 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 Master's service.

  That God's richest blessing may be upon you all and upon all your homes is the prayer of


Your sincere Friend and Pastor,



  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--

  Goto Top

We hope when our G.A. comes to tea
This stand may never empty be.


  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.

    However, 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.

    Mr. 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 appreciation.

  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.

And 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.

To 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.

Heaven bless them all, I could recall
So many happy days,
But not to-night, dim burns our light,
The shadows fall on Maze."

  Goto Top


  The word 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 and findings.


    1st October, 1935

Moderator ------------ 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.

    Goto Top


  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, Belfast.

  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 satisfactorily.

  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.  

Goto Top 


  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.