1901: After having been closed for repairs and
alterations for nearly two months, during which time the national school
was used for worship (kindly granted by Canon Sayers), the church was
re-opened on Friday evening the 21st June. Three of the local ministers
were present and spoke words of encouragement. They referred to the great
improvement in the appearance of the church, the old benches having been
replaced by modern seats. The former pulpit, which one speaker said was of
"chum-like form", was done away with and the new one was a handsome
platform structure. All the new woodwork was of pitch pine, and the old
woodwork was painted to match.
Special services were held on the 23rd June and conducted
by Bishop Sutcliffe of Gracehill. The day was wet and stormy but the
attendances were good and included many friends from other churches. The
collections were satisfactory, amounting to over �10, enabling the
expenses of the renovations to be met but not sufficient to undertake the
purchase of a new organ: As the old instrument is past repair, this
effort must be in the near future.
1914: The diary for 25th May contains the
following: At 11 p.m. a motor car with ammunition drew in front of the
church gates to distribute guns etc. but when the driver found he had
arrived at the wrong place, he quickly turned and went on the Antrim road.
A few days before 2 large loads of guns and ammunition were brought to
Portmore. Mr - had received orders to distribute them.
1920: The last resident minister at Ballinderry was
Br. J. Stinton. During his ministry Kilwarlin and Ballinderry became a
unit, he removed to Kilwarlin on 6th April and as a result the Ballinderry
manse was rented out. There were now 40 members and 21 adherents at
1923: The front of the church was cement faced, the
interior and exterior (also the manse) were repaired and decorated. A
cement path, new door, porch tiles, carpet for platform and pulpit stairs,
a petrol lamp and also a lamp for the porch were added.
1926: In January it was agreed to pay the caretaker
8/= per month to attend to the lamps and fires, and the organ blower to be
paid 5/= half yearly instead of yearly.
1935: After being closed for a few years the Sunday
school restarted under Br. & Sr. W.J. McCoy.
1949: Kilwarlin congregation wished to sell the
American organ which they had loaned to Ballinderry over 5 years before
and offered it for �25 - the committee felt it was desirable to secure the
organ but requested that the price should be reduced. Kilwarlin agreed to
sell it for �20 and this was accepted.
In August electricity was brought to part of the village
and enquiries were made as to when it would be available in our area. The
Electricity Board confirmed that it would probably be early the following
1950: Now that electricity was available in the
vicinity of the church it was agreed to replace the oil lamps. In May an
estimate was received for installing it in the church and vestry:
7 lights and 3 plugs (15amp) �25. 0.0 and 7 light shades
�12.10.0. The estimate was accepted and installation took place.
In June the church ceiling was found to be unsafe and
needed immediate attention. A subscription list was opened, as there were
not adequate funds in hand to meet the repairs, and approximately �90 was
In December it was agreed that a service of thanksgiving
should be held in January for the church renovation and the installation
of electricity, and that the collection be devoted to the cost of the
electricity. Thanks were expressed to the organist and her brother for the
use of their home for services during the renovations. Both worshipped
here though they belonged to the Church of Ireland.
1952: In August it was decided to have electricity
installed in the old manse and agreed that the tenant should contribute to
part of the cost. This was �21.10.0, half of which was met by the church
and the balance by the tenant.
1954: Discussions took place in February regarding
the church stove and the possible danger of fire. It was agreed to provide
adequate safeguards and protection for the surrounding woodwork.
1955: Bi-centenary celebrations were held on the
24th and 25th July combined with the commemoration of the 200th
anniversary of the death of John Cennick. On the Sunday the church was
filled with members and local people, the special preacher was a former
minister, Br. R. S. Farrar. A public meeting was held on the Monday
evening when the church was packed with friends from the other
congregations in the district. Other speakers were the Rev. W.L. McCombe
(local Presbyterian), Brn. F.H. Mellowes, and C.F. Smith (Moravian,
Belfast) and Br. R.J. Burr the minister of the congregation.
1957: Until now the only means of heating was the
stove at the back of the church, situated underneath the gallery, and in
the winter everyone tried to sit as near it as possible. As it was getting
beyond repair, arrangements were made in May to get quotations to install
and maintain electric heating in the church. The Electricity Board quoted
�220/�225 for tubular heating and �125/�140 for overhead heating. It was
decided to leave the matter until some further quotations were received.
1959: The minister reported that after making
numerous enquiries about various methods of heating, it seemed that the
Electricity Board's recommendation was the most practicable and in August
it was decided to go ahead with tubular heating around the walls.
1960: In April the heating was installed and a fund
set up to cover the cost raised �214.00.
1966: In November a request was received from the
Antrim County Council for the sale of a portion of our paddock in order to
make road improvements at the crossroads. This also meant the cutting down
of some lime trees bordering the Crumlin/Portmore roads and removing
walls. It was felt that the compensation of �20 was inadequate and the
committee requested that a replacement wall be erected on the Portmore
road instead of the suggested fence.
1967: A further request was received from the
Council in February. As the road alterations were being extended further
along the Portmore road, this would involve cutting across the corner of
the burial ground. The committee agreed that the burial ground should not
be disturbed, but permission was granted to curve the wall at the comer of
it as it was felt that this would improve the general appearance of the
wall. After several negotiations the Council agreed to construct a
replacement wall from the burial ground to the crossroads and in view of
this it was agreed to accept the �20 compensation.
1968: On the first Sunday in November at the
Communion service, Mrs. Jennie Glover (Church of Ireland) was welcomed as
a communicant member after almost 70 years as a regular worshipper. She
was also caretaker for most of this time.
1969: As the organ had lain dormant for some time
due to serious damage to the soundboard, action and pipework caused by
damp, enquiries were made as to the feasibility of having it repaired. A
decision was made to have it restored by Peter Conacher of Huddersfield at
a cost of �506 (10 times the original purchase price in1851). It is
regarded as a prime example of mid 19th century chamber organs in Northern
Ireland, with remarkable potentialities for all its slender resources.
On the 18th June there was a service of thanksgiving for
the re-dedication of the organ and the offertory was in aid of the organ
restoration fund. The preacher was a former minister, Br. G.A. Mitchell,
and the congregation thoroughly enjoyed the organ recital of 'Ave Maria' (Burgmuller),
`Air from Water Music' (Handel), `Minuet from Overture to Samson' (Handel)
and 'Caro Mio Ben' (Giordani) played by the guest organist, Mrs. Anna
An electric heater was installed in the back of the organ
to try to prevent dampness, a bit of a change from the iron pan of clean
turf-coals which was used in the mid 1800's.
1971: Due to a reduction of ministers in the Irish
District, the Ballinderry/Kilwarlin unit was separated; Ballinderry was
linked with Cliftonville on the Oldpark Road, Belfast, and Kilwarlin with
University Road, Belfast.
1972: The very uneven surface in the older part of
the burial ground next to the church caused great difficulty in mowing the
grass and keeping it tidy. After making enquiries, there seemed to be no
legal obstacle to removing the really old gravestones and placing them
against the wall in the burial ground next to the church. In August, a
group of young people from Cliftonville and University Road congregations
in Belfast volunteered to arrange a youth camp to help the Ballinderry
young people and adults clear the ground of stones, brambles and as many
weeds as possible. They camped in the paddock under the supervision of Br.
& Sr. Cooper and on the Saturday evening, after a hard day's work, a very
welcome barbecue was held followed by a sing-song round a campfire. A
youth service was held on the Sunday morning before the young people left
Weedkiller was then sprayed on this part of the burial
ground and after it had taken effect the ground was rotavated, raked and
grass-seed sown in order to make the ground look tidier and hopefully more
1975: The bi-centenary of the death of Bishop Peter
Bohler was celebrated in Gracehill church on the 27th April when the large
congregation included many Methodists. Bishop Bohler was a friend of John
and Charles Wesley.
1987: Woodworm was discovered in parts of the
church pews and floor, and immediate action was taken to have someone
inspect it, with the result that it was recommended to have the whole
building treated. Unfortunately, due to a colony of brown long eared bats
(which are a protected species) in the roof space of the church this work
could not be carried out until the bats had vacated the premises. Advice
was sought from the D.O.E. (Countryside and Wildlife Branch) and after
several checks the treatment was carried out in February 1988.
1988: In September a mahogany door was made to
replace a window in the vestry in order to make another exit from the
church to comply with safety regulations.
As the roadway in front of the church is narrow and a new
private housing estate built opposite restricted parking space, it was
decided in September to create a car park at the back entrance to the
church. Over the last few years when special services were held it had
proved very difficult to find parking space. (No problems like this when
the church was originally established!) Donations of �300 were received
for this project and the cost was �483.
1992: On the 28th March the 400th anniversary of
the birth of Bishop John Amos Comenius was commemorated in Ballinderry
when members from the other congregations in the Irish District joined
with us. This was just one of many thanksgiving services held around the
world to celebrate his birth. Comenius was one of the individuals
responsible for saving the Moravian Church from extinction so it was
appropriate that he should be remembered in this way.
1996: Again with further reductions in ministers in
the Irish District, Ballinderry was linked as a unit with Gracehill.
1997: Due to severe damp in the church and manse,
major repairs had to be undertaken, the exterior of the whole building was
stripped back to the stonework and replastered, also the inside of the
porch and the inside of the south-facing wall. Repairs had also to be
carried out to the window frames in the church and manse, as some of the
wood was rotten. This was done at a cost of �6348.22 for the church and
�3524.88 for the manse. A grant of �500.00 was received from P.E.C. (our
Governing Board in London) towards the repairs and also a grant of
�2643.71 was received from N.I. Housing Executive towards the repairs to
the manse. Through the generosity of members and friends and a number of
fundraising efforts (these included table quiz, sales, auctions, and
concerts) which were very successful, sufficient funds were available for
this extensive work.
1998: What used to be the great "oak wood" is
commemorated in the many local place names ending in "derry" which means
"the land of the oak" but our property is surrounded by lime trees. Over
the years due to road construction and improvements some of these trees
were cut down with the result that there are now 26 in total bordering 2
sides of the property and a Tree Protection Order was granted a few years
back. Due to severe storms over Christmas 1997/New Year 1998 there was
some damage to local residents' property from fallen branches. To keep our
insurance in order we were advised to have the 13 trees pruned which are
adjacent to the houses, and the work had to be carried out by an approved
tree surgeon. This tree maintenance proved very costly at �4277.00 but as
on previous occasions generous donations were received from members and
friends which amounted to �1120.00, and a grant of �1000.00 was received
from P.E.C. The Lower Ballinderry Primary School children were involved
and did a project on the pruning. In order to get information they were
given talks by the tree surgeon and environmentalists as to why some
branches were cut and others were not.
The late Bishop J.H.Foy commissioned a small round stained
glass window with the Church crest for the porch. Bishop J.H.Cooper
dedicated it on the 23rd of March.
1999: In June the interior and exterior of the
church were re-decorated. This included the outside of the manse and also
the burial ground walls, the railings and the gates at a cost of �7180.42.
A plaster cornice was put up in the church with donations received from
the Stevensons in memory of members of their family, and this has greatly
enhanced the appearance.
2000: The new millennium has brought further
changes. On the 1st September Ballinderry was linked with University Road
and Kilwarlin and for the first time in the history of Ballinderry
Moravian Church we have a woman minister.
Early in the year an enquiry form was received from our
church governing board in London regarding the state of all church
buildings. After viewing the premises, our builder stated that the church
and manse roofs were reasonable at present, but would require extensive
work within the next five years. After consideration, the committee agreed
that as funds were available it would be wiser to go ahead with the
necessary repairs rather than wait. Several estimates were received and it
was agreed that the most suitable was that of the roofing specialists who
worked mainly on repairing historical buildings, though not the cheapest.
They powerwashed the slates and then removed the complete roof covering
and repaired any damaged timbers. The following were supplied and fixed -
nylon breathing felt, treated lathes and flashing, then the slates and
ridge tiles were put back with the defective ones being replaced. This
work was carried out in September at a cost of �11,000.
GOD'S ACRE or Moravian Burial Ground.
In God's Acre you will notice that some of the headstones
are lying flat. These follow the old Moravian custom where the only
inscription was name, date of birth and date of death. Headstones were the
same size, emphasising that in death all are equal. Another
interesting fact is that in some Moravian burial grounds there was an area
for married women and widows, one for married men and widowers, one for
single men and little boys and one for single women and little girls.
Gracehill retains the custom of burial in single graves and men are
interred in one half of the burial ground and women in the other.
The headstone (marked No 1) for Mary Ann Syms, born 7th
April 1755, died 31 st January 1758, the little daughter of the minister
and his wife and the first burial in Ballinderry, can still be seen.
Interior of Church 2002
THE CHURCH TODAY (2000) AND THE FUTURE
The five congregations in Northern Ireland, Ballinderry,
Kilwarlin (near Hillsborough) Gracehill (Ballymena) Cliftonville and
University Road (both Belfast) are currently served by two full time
stipendiary ministers who cover (a) Gracehill and Cliftonville and (b)
University Road, Kilwarlin and Ballinderry. One retired bishop and two
retired ministers, along with a dedicated group of lay preachers, assist
them. Lay preachers conduct services but do not officiate at the
sacraments. A list of all the ministers who have served in Ballinderry
from 1753 appears later in this booklet.
The Ballinderry Moravian Church is very active not only in
the local community but also participates in assisting with international
projects especially in Central Europe, which has involved all sectors of
the church with donations varying from clothes to Christmas parcels for
orphans. Assistance has been given to other denominations in the locality
for their projects and also with repairs to a church after bomb damage.
The church tries to keep alive the Moravian spirit of fellowship and
mission awareness. We participate in the European Heritage Weekends, when
buildings of historic importance are open to the public. History evenings
are now a regular feature when anyone can come and hear about the beliefs,
customs, traditions and history of the Moravian Church.
The church and property are fisted as a Grade 2 historic
site, and as such is protected BUT does not receive any assistance for
maintenance. The paddock was listed by the Ulster Wildlife Society as an
area of wildlife interest because of a number of rare plants and gasses.
Ballinderry Moravian Church stands witness to the fight against evil -
John Cennick's preaching in the cock-pit led to the building of a House of
God; we pray that it will continue as a place of worship for future
OTHER EARLIER MORAVIAN WORK IN THE DISTRICT.
SANDY BAY - LOUGH NEAGH. It is not recorded when
the first meetings took place in this area. The diary for 1848
records a lovefeast held there in the afternoon of Sunday the 24th
September. It was a festal occasion and Moravians were present from many
places including Gracehill, Dublin, Bristol and Cootehill, also Sr. Zula
from Kilwarlin. The local people turned up in force, 30-40 children and
70-80 men and women. Br. John Birtill, the sixth speaker, spoke of his
first visit to the Bay and the purchase of the Store House (described in
one account as an unfinished mansion). Br. William Ellis of Ballinderry
preached the first sermon in this building on July 22nd 1842. The
pulpit came from the Baptist Academy in Bristol and the benches were those
on which Cennick's hearers sat, having survived the fire in Ballinderry in
1835. Br. Birtill furnished the house, took up residence the next
year and held regular services. A Sunday school was started with an
average attendance of 50.
In 1845 Br. Birtill moved to Ballinderry and a
Scripture Reader was appointed who held a Sunday school and evening
service attended by fishermen and farmers who came in boats over the Lough
and in carts from the country around. Various references appear in the
Sept. 8th 1863: Lovefeast at Sandy Bay. In spite
of a tremendous storm about 60 persons assembled and though our fare was
only dry bread and indifferent tea we found attentive hearers and an open
door for preaching the glad tidings, the meeting lasted from 6.15 till
May 14th 1867: The preaching place at the Bay
has been discontinued since Br. Cousins has given up his connection with
the society. The other preaching places are very encouraging.
March 8th 1870: Visited at Sandy Bay ... It is
sad that after the long labours at this place there should now only remain
one person connected with our Church.
When the work declined the Sandy Bay property was sold,
however in 1884 there are records of cottage meetings being held.
GLENAVY: On the 27th September 1750 Cennick
preached there for the first time to thousands in a large field. His
preaching continued, sometimes in the fields but also in a large stable, a
spacious barn and a cloth mill. On the 11th March 1751 work was
started on converting a building, belonging to Mr. Gorman, to a chapel at
a rent of �4.16.0 per annum. When completed it consisted of a chapel and a
dwelling place with a small garden. When the building was dedicated the
report says that more than 800 were present, many who could not get in
being clustered around the windows and doors. Just over 100 joined the
society, it prospered for a few years but when Cennick was no longer
about, the work tailed off and was eventually incorporated with
Ballinderry. Glenavy remained a preaching place for many years until the
Church of Ireland commenced evangelistic work in the district in which a
Moravian Scripture Reader joined. The Protestant Hall was built on the
spot where the church originally stood.
CROSS HILLS: Cennick first preached here on the 5th
October 1750 and services continued intermittently until a society
was formed. On the 24th August 1752 the foundation stone of a
chapel was laid but it was not opened for worship until the 2nd June
1754, as money was tight. Bishop Peter Bohler wrote in his diary after
a visit in November 1752: We took a view of the new chapel, which
is a building of stone, but not yet roofed, tho' they are busy at work.
This chapel is in our hands for 5/= a year, tho' it hath an acre of land,
and is let to us for 41 years.
When completed the property was described as consisting of
a church, with a school on one side, a two-storied house on the other, and
a burial ground. In 1797 Gracehill diary records that the
attendance had fallen, and the place had gone into the hands of strangers.
There was a slight revival during 1799 but it must have been short
lived because a visitor in 1805 found that the roof had fallen in.
Other preaching places mentioned in the diaries were at
Crew Hill and Tunny Point. Cottage meetings are recorded over many years
at Derryarnish (Barnes family) Folly Hill (homes of Mrs Elliott and
Charles Totten), Hillhead (James Green Sen.) and Legaterriff (Bell's). The
ministers also took part in services in the Union Hall, Aghagallon, the
National School at Legaterriff and in a barn belonging to Wm. Totten at
MINISTERS OF THE BALLINDERRY CONGREGATION
||(Joint Congregation with
||(Joint Congregation with
||(Joint Congregation with
||(Joint with Univ. Road &
|J. Elliott (Jun.)
| G.B. McLeavy