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A Place of Worship
Banbridge Road Presbyterian church





The introduction of indoor bowling as an opportunity of fellowship was largely due to Sam Patterson, who was a keen outdoor bowler. He had heard that there were indoor bowling clubs in a few Belfast churches. He approached a number of men whom he thought would be interested in paying an exploratory visit to one of these clubs. Arrangements were made to visit Cregagh Methodist Club in the late Spring of 1953. Those who went were so enamoured with the game and the obvious fellowship it created that it was almost decided there and then to commence a club. At that time there was no club outside Belfast, Banbridge Road Club has always claimed to be the first provincial club. As a result of their visit a meeting was held on the 29th June 1953 with a view to starting a club. It was decided after some discussion to form a club under the title, "The Banbridge Road Presbyterian Church (Dromore) Men's Fellowship and Indoor Bowling Club." The Rev. Moore was elected chairman, with James McCormick as President and Vice-Presidents S. R. Patterson, S. J. Duffy and W. J. Thompson. The treasurer was Sam Martin, and James Walker Secretary. A small committee met early in September to arrange for the purchase of felt and baize and it was decided to open the Club on the 28th September. The Bowling Club was declared open and the first wood delivered by James McCormick. In the coming months a number of men from other congregations in the town and district applied for membership and were welcomed. Within a few months there was a membership of 50. This in spite of the fact that there were only two mats and a very bad surface on the floor�a bowl, if it hit a groove or a raised knot, could go almost anywhere! Enthusiasm made up for the long wait for a game and the difficulty of play on the uneven floor.

The Club was so successful that it commended indoor bowling to other congregations and soon new clubs were springing up all over the province. With three clubs starting in the town and clubs in a number of congregations in the area, membership in the mother club suffered and new members had to be recruited. A ladies' Club was started and was successful, for a number of years. Then, following the example of some other clubs, it was decided to have a mixed club. A feature of bowling life was the opportunity for friendship and fellowship it created. Clubs visiting each other brought about new and enriching friendships.

Inevitably competitive bowling became popular, first within the club and then in tournaments. A tournament was held each year and a large entry from other clubs was a feature. This became the pattern for most clubs and there were those who felt that so many members were so much engaged in tournament bowling that the local club suffered. This of course was true; however the enthusiasts loved the opportunites to compete and many of the Banbridge Road members brought considerable credit to themselves and their club.

The Rev. Moore always made a point of being present when there was a visiting club. He conducted a short service of worship, and gave a word of welcome to the visitors. The members and the visitors looked upon this as a feature of the Banbridge Road Club.

The Bowling Clubs were fortunate in their office-bearers�Jim Walker was secretary for some 17 years, and his sister-in-law, Miss Jean Watson, has been secretary for a similar period. Earl McCracken was secretary for a short time between these, but had to resign for health reasons. Mrs. Loretta Aiken has been a valuable assistant secretary for some years. The first treasurer was Sam Martin, who died a young man. He was succeeded by Sam Thompson of the Northern Bank; who remained in office until he left the district on retirement from the bank. For a short period Norman Hubbard undertook this work. On his leaving the town Mrs. Madge Johnston was appointed; after seven years it passed to David McCandless, who took the responsibility for the next seven years. At present the treasurer is Sam Malcolmson. The various committees were always supportive and at present the club looks healthy and well set for the years ahead.

On the 10th anniversary of the founding of the club there was a special service to mark the occasion. The address was given by Prof. J. M. Barcley, M.A., PhD., D.D., and again on the completion of 21 years Prof. Barcley, who had been a popular preacher on the first occasion, was invited back to give the address.

Front row: Loretta Aiken, Jean Watson, Alan Malcomson, Mrs. M. Stewart, Mrs. D. Reain, Mrs. M. Dewart. Back row: Rodney Malcomson, Kenneth Aiken. End of 1988 season (Prize winners)


Bowling was so popular with many members of the club, there were some who suggested that it might be a good idea to take the mats out to the car park and bowl in the open air during the summer evenings. This was tried, but proved unsuccessful. The surface of the tarmacadam was unsuitable, besides the bowls were damaged when they went off the mat on to the abrasive surface. The idea was good, but how? Later it was decided to lay special concrete `bowling bays' as they came to be called. Jim Cargin set the levels, concrete was ordered and two bays were laid, then a third. The inscription on the concrete bears the names of those who did the work: J. Hodgen, B. Rogan, J. Calder and the Rev. Moore. These bays were laid behind the Minor Hall and when properly finished proved very attractive. When the bowling community heard about the innovation many came to see and to try them out. Thus the summer club was formed which had amongst its members many bowlers whose indoor clubs closed for the summer months. It was a great opportunity for members of other clubs to have fellowship. Soon a summer tournament was introduced. The first rounds were played in the open air and the finals

in the hall. Light often stopped outdoor play, sometimes the midges had the same result! The outdoor club commenced in May 1966 and it continued for 20 years. Part of the reason for the closure was the opening of a full length bowling green at Holm Terrace. Many will look back on those twenty summers with happy memories. They were pleasant evenings.

In the early days of the Bowling Club there were those who carried the responsibility and promoted the interests of the Club. It would be generally agreed that S. R. Patterson, James Walker and James Mulligan were such. Harry Maisey was a key member at a later date. More recently the Club has been kept enthusiastic by members such as Kenneth and Loretta Aiken and Miss Jean Watson. It was always a Club in which the members pulled their weight, supporting those who gave leadership.

In the Summer Indoor Bowling on the outdoor bowling bays. In the forefront is Robert Rogan a bowling stalwart


The club was formed in 1973 at the request of a number of young people who wanted somewhere to go and something to do on a Saturday evening. There was some hesitation as such clubs were notoriously hard to run and had proved difficult in other congregations. However, the club started with enthusiasm. The minor hall was used for reading and small games, the main hall for more robust games. The numbers who came proved the need and there was a helpful spirit of co-operation from the young people who in those days were in the later teens.

Clifford Thompson had the main responsibility. After a couple of years the club was reorganised and Miss Margaret Coulter took over the leadership. Again the numbers were high and the young people in their later teens. It was very difficult to manage and keep the interest of the large number who came. However, it can be said that it was successful and most found the club an interesting place to go.

What might be called the Third Club was organised by Jewel and Avril and Trevor Carson. While there were games nights, and social meetings and Inter Church competitions it had also a meeting format and speakers and films played a big part.

The Club was then taken over by Olive Wilkinson and John Irvine. (Later to marry). The club was becoming better equipped all the time. And when the next autumn came round John and Olive had an abundance of good quality equipment and the average member had become much younger. For a number of years the young people and some of their leaders from First Dromore Sunday Evening Fellowship joined and helped in the activities, and the young people from Banbridge Road reciprocated by supporting the Sunday Evening Youth Fellowship in First Dromore.

Those associated with the vicissitudes of the Saturday evening youth clubs must feel sad that at present there is so much good equipment lying unused and Cups and Trophies unplayed for. However, it is hoped it may be resurrected a fifth time and be of value to the next generation. The Club survived its ups and downs because of the determination of the various leaders who gave much time and preparation. Their work was never fully appreciated. A number of the elders and committee members gave time too, acting as `policemen' in a helpful and friendly way.

A Congregation's Appreciation

On a number of occasions apart from the reception when they were married and when they retired the Rev. and Mrs. Moore were honoured by the members of the congregation. After the renovation of the church they received gold watches and other gifts to mark the occasion. When Mr. Moore was 25 years in Banbridge Road, it was celebrated with a 25th Anniversary Presentation. The chairman on this occasion was the Clerk of Presbytery, the Rev W. L. McCombe, the Moderator of Presbytery, the Rev. James Johnston, conducting the Devotions. A feature of the evening was an interview with the minister by the Clerk of Session, Mr. S. R. Patterson; in the course of which he asked questions covering every aspect of Mr. Moore's ministry. Finally, he asked Mr. Moore would he like to visit the Holy Land; on Mr. Moore answering `yes', Mr. Patteson handed him vouchers for a two week tour.

The visit to the Holy Land was such a valuable experience that Mr. Moore decided to organise a party from Dromore. This in turn proved so successful, that he not only returned to the Holy Land on two other occasions but also took parties for a tour of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor and later to Greec in the footsteps of Paul.

This led to a number of group holidays being arranged for the members of the congregation and their friends.

On two occasions the congregation presented Mr. Moore with robes. The farewell reception was recorded on video and is a visual record of a sad yet happy function.

On five occasions Mr. Moore exchanged pulpits with Presbyterian ministers from the United States of America. These proved to be of value to him and of considerable interest to the congregation. The American ministers lived in the manse, used Mr. Moore's car and conducted the services on the Sundays, Mr. Moore doing the same in the States. There was a wide variety of exchanges, and each of the ministers who came made his own contribution to the Sunday worship. The congregation received the visitors with a warm Irish welcome and always tried to make their stay a pleasant one. Some had their family with them and happy friendships were formed.


Banbridge Road Presbyterian Church presentation to Rev. Moore to celebrate the Fortieth Anniversary of his Ordination. From left: Rev. Boyd Minister, Mr. K. Aiken � member of session, Rev. Moore � Senior Minister and Mrs. Moore.

Eighteen months after Mr. Moore retired he celebrated the fortieth anniversary of his ordination. The congregation marked the occasion with a presentation which took place after the morning service on Sunday, 27th April, 1986.

The Rev. A. Boyd, his successor, introduced the presentation and asked the treasurer, Mr. Kenneth Aiken, to hand over the gift of a chiming mantel clock. Mr. Aiken referred to the many changes which had taken place during Mr. Moore's forty years in Banbridge Road � its buildings and a doubled membership. He said, "Mr. Moore you have served your Master and His people well and as a congregation we wish you and Mrs. Moore God's Blessing in the years that lie ahead". Mr. Moore, in his reply, said that while there had been many changes in the town and congregation, he thought, not so much of them, as of the unchanging goodness and kindness he had experienced from the people of Banbridge Road. He expressed his good wishes to his successor for his work in the congregation.

The Rev. A. W. Boyd � Called from the
Land to Teach and Preach

The Rev. Alexander William Boyd, B.A., B.DThe Rev. Alexander William Boyd, B.A., B.D., like two of his predecessors, came from the Ballymena area. His father, Mr. Nathaniel Boyd, was a farmer, and his son after his early education at Carnaghts P.E. School and later the Ballymena Academy followed in his father's footsteps, and proved himself to be a successful dairy farmer. In spite of his prospects he responded to a strong conviction that God was calling him into the Christian ministry. He graduated B.A. (Hons.) from the New University, Coleraine, and finally took his B.D. at Queen's University and his theological course at Union College. He became assistant minister in Gardenmore congregation, Larne, in 1982. He was licensed in his home congregation of Wellington Street, Ballymena, in June 1983 and was ordained in January 1984. He had married Miss Margaret McKillen, a school teacher, of Ballymena, and had three children�Stephen, Christine and Ian, all in their teens at the time he came to Dromore.

Previously he had for a number of years been very interested in Tear Fund and carried out a considerable programme of deputation work on behalf of this Fund.

Having received an unanimous call to Banbridge Road congregation he was installed on the 28th March 1985.

At the Installation the Charge was given by the convener, the Rev. J. B. Irvine, of Hillsborough, who congratulated him on receiving a Call to an absolutely harmonious congregation. At the reception the Moderator of Presbytery, the Rev. Malcolm Scott, welcolmed him, and the Clerk of Session, Mr. Jim Walker, said in his welcome that all were looking forward to his coming and his ministry. The Rev. Moore, the retired minister, in his welcome, congratulated Mr. Boyd `on being called to a congregation like Banbridge Road�they are a very kind, loyal, generous people.' He wished him well. Others to offer congratulations, good wishes and commendation, were the Rev. David Alderdice�his home minister, the Very Rev. Victor Lynas, to whom he had been assistant, and the Very Rev. John Carson, who had baptized him. Archdeacon William Neill, Rector of Dromore Cathedral, (speaking on behalf of the other churches) welcomed the new minister to the town.

In his reply the Rev. Boyd spoke of the many blessings that had been his through his home, his church and his assistantship. He spoke of his very vivid Call into the Ministry, and said that in his work he would be giving priority to the sick, the old and to visiting the people in their homes, and that his preaching would be Bible based. He asked for their prayers.

Very soon he was involved in his pastoral responsibilities, and the work of the organizations.The first major task of a practical nature was the renewing of the windows of the church hall, the original windows were now almost sixty years old and the metal badly eroded. This was dealt with by the Property Committee and the halls refurbished. The Moderator, the Rt. Rev. William Fleming, D.D., dedicated the windows and commended the work done at a special morning service on Sunday 20th September 1987. The work had cost �7,000, three times the cost of the original hall.

Under the Rev. Boyd's leadership the congregation continues to provide organizations for the young�Bible and Prayer meetings and opportunities for social and recreational activity through the Bowling and Badminton Clubs. The P.W.A. and Young Women's Group cater for the ladies.

Early in Mr. Boyd's ministry the members of the P.W.A. presented him with pulpit robes. The ceremony took place after the evening service on Sunday, 19th September, 1985, Mrs. A. Walker and Mrs. M. McCord carrying out the robing on behalf of the Association. Good wishes were expressed to Mr. and Mrs. Boyd for a continued happy and successful ministry.


An assistant minister was appointed for the first time in the history of the congregation in the Spring of 1988. He was Mr. Raymond Kelly from Dungannon. He had been a lecturer in Dungannon College of Further Education. He decided that God was calling him into the Christian ministry in 1984, and in preparation he did a Queen's B.D. and entered Union College for his theological course. He is married with two daughters. He was licensed on Thursday, 3rd June, 1988, by the Presbytery of Tyrone; a number of Banbridge Road members travelling to Dungannon for the occasion. For the first months he travelled to Dungannon, but has now come to live in Dromore. He is proving himself to be a very congenial young man who gets on well with people and is a considerable asset to the congregation.


Early in his ministry the Rev. Boyd started a Sunday Evening Youth Fellowship. At first it was held in the manse, now it meets in the church hall Committee Room.

It has proved a valuable opportunity for young people to meet for discussion and Bible Study. There is a varied programme and those who attend are enthusiastic about the fellowship they enjoy.

The Sunday Schools


Morning Sunday School 1980

While there is no record of the date when a Sunday School was commenced � it must have been quite early in the ministry of the Rev. McKee as there are old Sunday School books dating back to 1856. They were found underneath the original pulpit when it was removed at the time of the 1953 renovation. They took the form of reading books to teach children the alphabet, then simple Bible words, and finally some short meaningful texts. The Sunday School teacher in those days was first of all a teacher of reading.

By the end of the century there were over 160 children attending Sunday School.

The first published list of names of Sunday School teachers is to be found in the 1917 report. The earlier reports were purely a list of subscriptions and a balance sheet. The Sunday School teachers at that time were Miss Anna Hunter, Miss Maggie McCracken, Miss Rachael McCracken, Mrs. McKee, Miss Jennie Stirritt, John Graham, Thomas Johnston and Joshua Magowan.

There was an organ in the Sunday School 10 years before there was a church organ. The organist, who was also Secretary, was Miss I. Doak.

At this time the Rev. McMullan had just been ordained and he made a great many changes. There was for the first time a pastoral letter and considerable information in the report. He commenced a minister's Bible Class, which was to continue for almost 70 years.

Mr. Thomas Johnston was appointed a Superintendent of the Sunday School in 1919 (previously the minister had, it would seem, been superintendent). Thomas Johnston held this office until his death in 1936. He had been a very faithful and committed worker for the good of the Sunday School. His successor was Robert J. Kerr, who held the office for the next nine years. On his death William J. Thompson was appointed. He had been treasurer for a number of years. His father, James Thompson, had assisted Thomas Johnston for ten years. Apparently he had a gift of speech and was highly respected for his good works and considerable ability. He was tragically killed in an accident at the corner of the Quilly Road. His son, William J., had many of his father's qualities. He was greatly esteemed, he loved children, and worked hard in the interests of the Sunday School until his resignation in September 1972. He had been connected with the work of the School for almost 50 years; 28 as superintendent. High tribute was paid to him by his fellow elders.

John Wilkinson, who had been a senior class teacher since 1956, was appointed superintendent. He was an excellent organiser. This was also seen in his leadership in Life Boys and work for the Saturday evening Youth Club.

When the hall was built in 1932, the Sunday School was held there and a Primary Department was started by Mrs Bole, the minister's wife, in the old hall at the back of the church. There was a certain amount of opposition to it, in that it was said it divided the Sunday School, and with its children's chairs and other equipment, it was considered too `modern'. When Mrs Bole left Miss M. Weir took over and remained in charge until she was married to Sam Andrews. After this it was closed and all met in the hall. After the Minor Hall was built a Primary Department was mooted again. The hall was ideal and the right person was available � Miss M. Patterson. She created a very well-organised department and was in charge until 1967 when Miss Margaret Coulter took over. To begin with she was known as the leader, but by 1982 she was called the superintendent � the department having become more independent.

The story of the Sunday School is a story on its own. It is the story of dedicated leaders, faithful teachers, many giving a lifetime of love to this work. The full results of the work done in the Sunday School through those who gave of their time and abilities will only be fully known in eternity.

After a few years John Wilkinson, preferring to teach rather than to organise, took over the minister's Bible Class and Eddie Lightbody was appointed Superintendent. A school teacher, he gave valuable, if short service, and in 1986 Mrs Pamela Ferguson, who had come from Larne to live in the town, was appointed.

It was the tradition of the Sunday School to honour any teacher who had given long service. It was also customary to present a gift to those who got married. While there were many who received a gift for one or other of these reasons there were several presentations for outstanding service. At the Annual Meeting in March 1949, two ladies, Miss Archer and Miss Jane Stirritt, who had been teaching for over forty years, were presented with gold watches by the Sunday School. Many members of the congregation joined in this recognition. The Sabbath School Society for Ireland presented them with inscribed Bibles

William J. Thompson was the recipient of gifts on two occasions. First, in 1964 when he had been superintendent of the Sunday School for over 20 years. At that time he had been a member of the Church Committee for 39 years and its secretary for 21. Such services evoked the good will of the whole congregation.

On the occasion of the presentation the Rev. Moore said that `Mr. Thompson has always given of his best. He has at all times believed that in serving the Sunday School, he was serving his Master to whom he seeks to win the children.' Mr. Cecil Whan, the church treasurer, handed over a silver salver and tea service.

In 1973 when he retired from the work of the Sunday School he received the gift of an easy chair. There were many expressions of good wishes.


W. J. Thompson, Sunday School Superintedant and his successor J. Wilkinson.In the autumn of 1947 the Session decided to approach the Session of First Dromore about the possibility of starting a United Afternoon Sunday School. It was left to Mr. Moore to discuss the matter with the Rev. Andrew Thompson of First Dromore. It was felt there was a genuine need at that time for such an opportunity for the girls and boys of both congregations. The Sunday School was commenced in January 1948. The demand for it and the attendance were beyond the dreams of both congregations. It was held in Ban bridge Road Hall. The superintendents were Robert Taylor (Banbridge Road) , and John McGrehan (First Dromore) and there were nine teachers some from each congregation. Cecil Whan was the secretary and treasurer. There were initially over ninety on the roll.

In 1953 First Dromore decided that they would like to have their own Afternoon Sunday School, and so it W. J. Thompson, Sunday School was divided. The Banbridge Road Superintendent and his successor School continued under Mr. Robert J. Wilkinson Taylor until 1961, when Mr. Walter Smyth took over. Mr Smyth was a very dedicated promoter of the Sunday School and with the support of the teachers always did his best to maintain interest. In spite of all his efforts interest waned and numbers fell. Mr. Smyth died in 1983 after 20 years of faithful service. Mr. Cyril Latimer took over the struggling Sunday School and managed with diligence to maintain the interest of the `few' until 1986 when it was closed. For almost 40 years it had played an important part in the life of the congregation. The Carol Service was associated with The Sunday School for many years; the girls and boys contributing items and the offering going to its funds.

Men for the Ministry

A congregation is always proud when one of its members decides to enter the full time ministry of the church. Since the beginning of the century four young men felt Called to devote their lives to the service of God through the Christian ministry. A short record of the life and influence of each is recorded as an important aspect of the Banbridge Road Story.

The Rev. L. Rentoul, son of the second minister.

The Rev. A. L. R. Bickerstaff was born and brought up in the congregation.

The Rev C. O. Weir whose forebearers were foundation members of the congregation.

The Rev. David Latimer who grew up in the ministry of the author.


The Rev. Rentoul's son Steele followed in his father's footsteps and entered the ministry. He was born in Clough and grew up in the Dromore manse. After school he went to the Royal University of Ireland where he graduated in arts. He was licensed by the Dromore Presbytery and was ordained in 1903 in Berwick-on-Tweed. Later he became minister of Callon Presbyterian Church in Glasgow. From there he moved to West Church, Houston, Renfrewshire. After a ministry of 13 months, there he died in April 1933.

The qualities of the man can be judged from the following extract from the memorial address, "He met life cheerfully and bravely and was greatly respected for his strength of character. People trusted and honoured him. He never forgot the dignity of his calling. He was a faithful pastor, a welcome friend in the homes of his people. He gave courtesy and he received it. He never said a word unbecoming of a Christian and a gentleman."

He married a Dromore lady, the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. S. Edgar. Mr. Edgar had a large drapery business in Dromore. Mr. Rentoul was survived by his wife and two sons.

It is interesting to note that his wife's brother, John Hammond Edgar, M.S., Barrister-at-Law, a Lieutenant in the Battalion Durham Light Infantry, was killed in action in France on the 24th February 1916. There was a memorial service for him in Banbridge Road Church on the 5th March. The address was given by the Rev. James Rentoul and would seem to be the only sermon of the Rev. Rentoul that has been preserved.


Rev. A. L. R. BickerstaffHe was born on the 4th February 1900 and brought up in the townland of Tullyglush, Dromore. He went to the local school. After school days he carried the post from Banbridge to Garvaghy. He tells how during his boyhood days he was greatly influenced by the Rev. McMullan, his minister, and that under his influence he began to study for the ministry. Eventually he went as a student assistant to Belturbet and Ballyconnell Presbyterian Churches in Co. Cavan. After a period there he was sent by the Colonial Mission to Newfoundland where he served the Canadian Presbyterian Church for some time. The climate did not agree with his wife (She was a Miss Martha Little, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John J. Little of Poyntzpass) so he left Newfoundland.

He then accepted an invitation to serve in the Presbyterian Church in England. After a course of special training he was licensed by the Presbytery of Northumberland and subsequently ordained. His first charge was at Widdrington and Broomhill, Northumberland. Soon he moved to Bishop Auckland, Co Durham, where he ministered from 1929 to 1932. From there he got a Call to Seaham Harbour and was there for two years.

His next appointment was to Beucastle, Northumberland, an extremely rural district. There he spent 14 of his happiest years, he once said. Then he received a Call to North Middleton and Babington. After five years there he moved to Norham in June 1953. He stayed there until he retired in March 1971. He had been Moderator of the Presbytery of Berwick. He kept a keen interest in his home congregation of Banbridge Road, visiting it at least once every year. The author is indebted to him for material and for his memories of his home congregation.


Mr. Cecil Oliver Weir was ordained on the 24th February 1938, the third young man in the congregation to enter the ministry. As a boy he went to Backnamullagh and Drumlough Public Elementary Schools and then to Lisburn Technical, from where he matriculated to Magee College. At the end of his first year his mother died and he transferred to Queen's where he graduated. As a boy he took a deep interest in the scriptures and brought great credit to himself and the Sunday School by winning three gold medals. He was licensed on the 28th November 1937 and ordained in First and Second Anaghlone on the 24th February 1938. Amongst those who took part were his minister, the Rev. Herbert Mulholland, and a former minister, the Rev. Thomas Bole, who at the time was Moderator of the Dublin Presbytery.

At the reception his qualities and abilities were commented on by a number of speakers who forecast a successful ministry for him. From the point of view of this history most interesting are his comments on the ministers under whom he grew up. He said about the Rev. G. F. McQuitty � `I remember him chiefly for his great work amongst the young in Sabbath School and Bible Class.' The Rev Thomas Bole � `I remember him for his warm personal friendship and the welcome one received at the manse.' `I remember with special favour the late Rev. W. Bates. Under his influence I not only dedicated my life to Jesus Christ but also dedicated myself to the work of the ministry. I can say of the Rev. Bates he was a Christian gentleman.' I also pay tribute to our present minister, the Rev. Mulholland, from whom I have received many personal kindnesses and often I have been helped by his quiet effective evangelical preaching.' The influence of these ministers was a blessing to young Mr. Cecil Weir and he in turn became a blessing to many.

He married Miss Vivienne M. Todd in 1941. She was a teacher and there were two children.

Much to the regret of the Anaghlone congregation he left to go to Clare and was installed on the 5th July 1951. There he was instrumental in building a new hall.

He was called to Donagheady on the 29th April 1965 and died on the 12th November 1967. It was a short but very happy ministry. In the course of his ministry he published a book of sermons, a history of First and Second Anaghlone and some children's addresses. He was very musical, writing a number of Harvest Hymns with music for the choir. He served the Church well and brought credit to the congregation that nurtured him.


David Latimer was the fourth young man to enter the Christian ministry from the Banbridge Road congregation and since he was born into the congregation and grew up in it during the author's ministry was the best known to him.

He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Cyril Latimer. His father is an elder in the congregation. He received his initial education at Dromore Central Primary School and Banbridge Technical College. After school days he was employed by the E.B.N.I. as it was then called. He was successful with excellent prospects. He married Miss Margaret Woods. He decided however that God was calling him into the Christian ministry. He took up a course of study to qualify himself for a Theological course and obtained a B.Sc (Econ) in 1978. He gave up his job and entered Union Theological College, Belfast. He obtained a Dip. Th. and was appointed student assistant to The Very Rev. Dr. Howard Cromie in Railway Street, Lisburn. He was licensed in his home church in June 1982 and ordained in Railway Street in January 1983. In March 1984 he received a Call to Glascar and Donaghmore, where he served the congregations well. Then in March 1988 he received an unanimous call to First Derry and Monreagh and was installed on 14th April.

His pleasant, affable, friendly personality and his very real interest in people commend the Christian faith.


Like many of his predecessors the Rev. Moore decided early in his ministry to have a series of special services. He discussed this possibility with the Rev. Andrew Thompson of First Dromore Presbyterian Church and it was decided to have a united meeting of the Sessions. This was held in Banbridge Road on the 24th January, 1949. At that meeting it was agreed to hold Evangelistic Services from the 13th March to the 27th, the services to be conducted by the Rev. John Thompson of Clarkston, Glasgow. It was also arranged to hold a series of four preparation prayer meetings. During the mission the Sunday evening services were held in First Dromore and the week night services in Banbridge Road. Mr. Thompson was known as the singing evangelist. His singing and preaching were a blessing to many of those who attended.

During Mr. Moore's ministry there were a total of seven missions which took various forms.

After he had been in the congregation almost nine years in 1955, a mission under the title Dromore United Churches was held. The title embraced the Church of Ireland, the Methodist and the Presbyterian Churches. Since some of the denominations in the town were not invited the title gave the wrong impression. There was some `feeling' about the matter�an unfortunate start to services designed to tell folk about the love of Jesus.

The ministers put a great deal of effort and thought into the preparations. The evangelist was a Rev. Ivor P. Sealey of Glasgow. A welcome meal, to which the ministers invited the office bearers of the congregations involved, proved to be valuable in putting the missioner and the office bearers at their ease. The mission lasted two weeks. The Sunday evening services were held in First Dromore, the week night services in Banbridge Road and the morning Bible Studies and Lunch Hour services in the Cathedral. These were taken by the ministers and the Children's Meetings were held in the Methodist Church Hall. There were preparation services as well as meetings for prayer. The preacher proved w be a fine presenter of the Gospel and many testified to having been helped and blessed through his ministry. It was agreed that the aims of the Mission had been achieved: they were "The Glory of God, the Deepening of Christian Life within the Church and the Awakening of the Indifferent."

Out of this united effort there came the Sunday Evening Epilogue Services when the same group of churches put on a service after church. The whole service was conducted through the medium of the screen and the ministers took it in turn to give the short closing address. In the days before T.V. these drew very large attendances.

In 1959 Commemoration Services were held to celebrate the 1859 Revival. This was a united effort by First Dromore and Banbridge Road churches. It took place in March and lasted one week. There were two months of preparation services. The mission itself was conducted by Dr. J. Edwin Orr and Rev. W. M. Dunlap from the United States. Similar missions were held throughout the Presbyterian Church at that time.

In April, 1962, Banbridge Road had a congregational mission. The Rev. A. M. Park, who was at that time minister of Orangefield, Belfast, conducted the services. He was very much appreciated and much good work was done.

Seven years later a New Year Mission was conducted by Mr. Michael P. Perrott, the General Secretary of the Y.M.C.A., Belfast. His pleasant ways, his gifted presentation, and his well illustrated addresses assured good attendances. After the church service the Banbridge Road Youth Club held a Coffee Bar style meeting. The hall was decorated like a barn; the young people sitting on bales of hay. It proved very attractive, and very large numbers of teenagers came and many were helped to understand the meaning of faith in Jesus Christ. The various groups which sang each evening were a great asset. There were two other evangelistic efforts, `Come Alive in 75' and `Make '78 Great.' Both these missions were conducted by the Rev. Harold Graham, who became very popular with young and old in the congregation. His addresses were to the point, challenging and up to date. He had a great raport with the young people. Again, the hall was dressed as a barn and again this attracted the young. A number of young people, especially young boys, dedicated themselves to Jesus Christ and His way of life. The second of these efforts suffered from bad weather, nevertheless good work was done. The Rev. David Armstrong held children's meetings each evening and the youth meetings were held in the hall; arranged like a Pitstop on a car racing track. These were conducted by a young minister, the Rev. John Woodside. He and the decor proved attractive, but the weather and the time of the year affected the enthusiasm. Again a number of young people were helped to see life in the light of God's Love revealed in the life and death of His Son.

Mr. Moore himself conducted a number of special efforts linked with the morning service�one of the most effective was `Flame' in 1974.


Records show that from the beginning of the century there was in the congregation a secretary for the Society. When the FWO system was introduced at the beginning of 1927 a decision was made that the collection for the Presbyterian Orphan Society should be kept separate. About this time Miss Jane Stirrit was made secretary, an office she held until 1954. W. J. Thompson was responsible for the next 17 years. John Wilkinson held the office for a few years until Miss Margaret Coulter, who had been a collector for the Society since 1947, was appointed in 1979.

When she had completed 25 years she was honoured by the Sunday School, receiving a gold bangle. The Society paid tribute to Margaret in 1977, when she had been collecting for 30 years. She received an inscribed Bible, which was presented by Dr. J. A. Weir, the Moderator. In 1983 Miss Coulter was made a Life Member. Any honour she received she said belonged to all who had helped and supported her over so many years.


The Choir 1953

In its early days, the congregation, like most Presbyterian. Churches, used the metrical Psalms in the praise of God. There was of course no organ. The earliest report reveals that a Precentor, with his tuning fork, was paid �6 a year for leading the praise and I suppose training the choir. This was increased to �10 by the turn of the century. There is no record of the name of The Precentor until the report of 1917 when James McCormick (still �10 a year) is indicated as responsible for the choir. The following notice appeared under his name in the Church Report.

"A Choir Practice is held each Tuesday evening, and a Junior Choral Class each Friday evening during the winter months. All who are interested in the praise part of our services are invited to attend, so that this portion of our worship may be strengthened and brightened."

While this is the first indication of choir practices, concerts that were run annually by the Sabbath School Entertainment Committee indicated a lot of hard work and enthusiasm by the choirs. For instance, in 1915 a Patriotic Concert was held in the church, the Junior Choir contributing four items and the Senior Choir six, many of them quite demanding pieces � altogether a programme of 25 items starting at 8 p.m.! James McCormick apparently was the moving spirit in this and other similar occasions. He remained precentor until the first organist was appointed in late 1929.

Miss May Kerr was appointed and commenced her duties at the beginning of 1930. James McCormick continued as choirmaster for a number of years, giving back part of his salary to help pay for the organist. He had a great love for music and in 1954 it was he who presented the pipe organ in memory of his daughter who died in childhood.

Miss Kerr was organist until 1935 when Earl McCracken was appointed. The Rev. Mulholland said about the choir and young organist in his report at the Congregational Meeting in March 1936. "We thank the choir and organist for their splendid conduct of the praise. At all times they are most loyal and their invaluable work is appreciated by all".

Over many years and under different organists, the choir who led the praise, received the approbation of the ministers and the worshippers. After seven years Earl McCracken resigned and Miss Minnie Ellison was appointed. She was at the time a member of First Dromore and her brother William agreed to come with her and train the choir; another brother John became a member of the choir to help in the bass section. These were members of First Dromore Choir. The ministers of the two congregations agreed to this appointment and it was made in good will. Apparently not everyone saw it that way at the time and this is understandable. Miss Ellison gathered round her a very faithful choir membership. During her 10 years as organist the choir gave her loyal support.

When the pipe organ was installed at the time of the renovation she was offered the position of organist but declined. Donald McDonald Smyth was appointed in May 1954 in preparation for the opening services in November. Mr. Leonard E. Bartram of Dublin, who designed and built the organ for Messrs. Peter Conacher and Company Ltd., and who was an outstanding organist, was asked to give an organ recital on the Friday evening prior to the opening services of dedication. He also presided at the organ on the Sunday. Miss Joan Pollock of Dublin was the soloist. Donald Smyth took over the following Sunday. He is remembered not only for his musical ability but perhaps especially in people's memories as the organist who insisted that the congregation should stand for the first chord of the music when the hymn had been announced � this has been so ever since. He resigned in the early summer of 1955 and a young organist, Stanley Woods, was appointed. He established a good relationship with the choir and when he left in June 1958 there were many who were genuinely sorry. Miss Margaret E. McCracken, the sister of Earl, was appointed and took up duties in September and gave valuable service for the next 13 years, resigning at the end of 1971. Cecil Caughey took over on the first of January 1972. He was popular with the choir and people, but owing to bad health he was forced to relinquish his post. The Session found it difficult to find a suitable successor and Miss McCracken was approached and asked to take over on a temporary basis. She consented and the `temporary' was almost `permanent' for it continued for two and a half years. From time to time she had the help of Mrs. Elizabeth McDonald. Towards the end of 1975 Jackie Stewart was appointed and commenced his duties as organist on the first Sunday in 1976. This proved to be a very popular appointment and the choir gave him their full-hearted support. At this time Mr. and Mrs. Herbie McDonald took on the responsibility of training the choir in co-operation with Jackie. This proved to be a great team. When Jackie Stewart asked to be relieved of the evening services, Mrs. McDonald became responsible for them and over the years they have worked together in a most harmonious spirit. At the time of writing Jackie, Elizabeth and Herbie are still playing their part in the worship of God through Psalm, Hymn and music. In January 1973 hymn books were needed. It was decided by the Session to wait until June, when the Third Edition would be available. While for a period both hymn books were used, the choir was anxious to get using the fine new hymns. From time to time they sang one as an anthem to prepare the congregation for the full use of the hymnary. Over a period of years many of the hymns came into use and the children enjoyed the large number provided for them. It was generally agreed that while the revised hymnary was a valuable aid to worship and a considerable improvement it was a pity that more new hymns had not been included.

Herbie McDonald joined the choir in 1945 and has remained a loyal member for over forty years now. He was elected to the church committee in 1965 and ordained an elder in 1970. He also taught in the morning Sunday School for many years.

Praise has always had an important place in the worship of God. Banbridge Road was no exception, and the choir, and organists of the congregation justifiably claimed that they always gave of their best.

"We will sing and praise Thy power" (Ps. 21 V. 13).


The first record of meetings being held specifically for prayer is found in the 1917 report. It indicates that a pre Sunday morning service meeting was held to ask God's Blessing on the services of the day. This was promoted by the minister, the Rev. McMullan, and continued each Sunday for forty years. It was discontinued in 1956, although for a number of years some of the Sunday School teachers met for prayer between the Sunday School and the service. The Sunday morning meeting for prayer has been reintroduced in recent years.

During the Rev. McQuitty's ministry about 1922, a mid-week meeting was commenced. Later in his ministry it became associated with the Christian Endeavour when a branch was formed embracing First Dromore, the Methodist and Banbridge Raod congregations. This united meeting continued to he an opportunity for prayer and Bible study well into the fifties. The Rev. McQuitty started a Men's Meeting for prayer on Friday evenings and It was supported for a number of years. Also introduced at this time was the District Meeting for prayer. These meetings were held at irregular intervals until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. After the Rev. Moore came in 1946, the Christian Endeavour meetings continued for some years, as did the pre morning service meeting for prayer.

In September 1950 the Kirk Session received a letter requesting a weekly congregational meeting for prayer. The request was discussed at some length and and it was felt in view of the weekly Christian Endeavour meeting that a decision should be left until a later date. In November it was decided not to do anything to upset the existing arrangement. This matter was again raised in October 1952 and this time it was agreed that a meeting for prayer and Bible Study should be held during the winter months starting in November. Initially it was held in the church and was well supported often reaching the fifty mark. As the years passed the attendances dwindled and twenty five to thirty became the pattern. When the Minor Hall was built the meetings were held there and later in the hall Committee Room. Although attendances became smaller it was always a very useful meeting � subjects and topics being dealt with as well as Bible Study and time for prayer.

There were also special times of prayer before missions.

When the Rev. A. Boyd came a second weekly meeting for Bible Study was commenced.


The long and faithful service of the secretaries of the I.B.R.A. is worthy of record.

The opportunity to obtain Bible Reading notes was introduced in 1934. At the time Miss Emily Black was the treasurer of the Minister's Bible Class and she was appointed secretary. She remained secretary until her marriage to William Thompson in 1938. Miss Amelia McCready took over the responsibility and held the post until her marriage in 1947. She was succeeded by her sister Winnie who also held the post until her marriage in 1955. Miss May Wilson was asked to take on the secretaryship, a task, which she, like her predecessors carried out efficiently � Miss Wilson is now in her thirty third year as secretary and must be congratulated on her very long period of faithful service to the congregation through her work for the I.B.R.A.