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A Place of Worship
Banbridge Road Presbyterian church





The congregation was fortunate in that the first minister seems to have come from a `well to do' family. The Rev McKee lived in the early years of his ministry in a house in Princes Street, now number 17. In those days it was a detached house but later it became part of the terrace. With its double windows and its Queen Ann fan light it looks different. However, it was not to remain the Manse for long. About 1850 a Manse was built in Ballymacormick on land owned by the McKee family. This land had either been bought by the family of the minister or previously owned by them. Some of the farm land remained in the McKee name until the late 1960's, when the remainder of the land was sold. At that time the congregation was at benefit from the estate.

The manse, built in the early 1850's, was typical of many large houses at that time � a four-square Georgian type. It is said that the cost of the new manse was borne by the Rev. McKee and that the church paid him or his family at a later date as the congregation grew and money became more plentiful. The manse, like the Church buildings, was renovated from time to time.

I suppose the best known true story took place late in the Rev. McKee's successor's ministry. The Rev James Rentoul, about 1908, asked the Committee to white wash the building. They delayed, and so Mr Rentoul took the matter into his own hands. He purchased a barrel of tar and with the help of a tramp tarred it. The manse became famous overnight. It was known as the `Black Manse' and it was said it was the `talk of Ireland', with people actually coming to see it. The writer remembers when he was a student in the late thirties Professor Marshall of Magee University College telling the tale of the `Black Manse'. He never thought then that one day he would live in it. The tarring of the manse proved a very expensive job for the Church Committee, in that for over fifty years successive committees spent a small fortune trying to get rid of the tar. Every time the manse was distempered or painted the tar came through, giving a pie-bald effect. Finally, in desperation in 1967 the walls were stripped with a pneumatic drill and re-plastered � the tar had gone for ever! The tar was gone but the moral lingers on.

James Ervine, of `Ashdene', Church Street, left his attractive residence to the congregation for a manse. When his widow died and the house became available, the congregational committee, after much discussion, decided to sell the house and to renovate the Ballymacormick Manse.

The renovation and modernization was considerable and was paid for by the money raised from the sale of `Ashdene'. (The Church Committee had to have the permission of the Union Committee for this) Mr Ervine achieved indirectly what he wanted - a comfortable home for the minister. This work commenced in the Spring of 1967and was completed by the beginning of October.

In early 1982, after the Rev. Moore had been in hospital for a time and his retirement was getting nearer, the suggestion was brought before the Committee that they should consider selling the manse and building a modern house on their site on the Ballymacormick Road at the back of the manse. This received general approval at a meeting held in May 1982.

As Mr Moore had his own bungalow in the area he could move at a suitable time to enable the Committee to have the manse ready for his successor. In April 1983 the move was made and Mr. Moore carried on his work from his own home. Immediately, the Property Committee began to plan the new manse. The building was commenced in 1st March 1984 and the house was ready by the time the Rev. A. Boyd got the Call. It is a fine house with a good view of the Mournes and the congregation is rightly proud of it

The First Manse, 17 Princes Street (1850)

The Second Manse (1850-1983)


The New Manse


The first report to give a list of office bearers was for the year ending the 31st March 1905. There were at that time two elders�Robert H. Mackey, and James Archer.

Robert Henry Mackey was known as the Senior Elder, it is interesting to trace his descendants. He was the grandfather of the Mackey brothers, James, Fred, and Harry. There are four great grandsons, Robert, Wilson and Richard, sons of Fred and Andrew, son of Harry, who also has two daughters, Elaine and Lynn. (All are at present members of the congregation.)

In 1908 Joshua Magowan was added and when James Archer died James Tweedie was elected.

After the Rev. McMullan was ordained, an election of elders was held in October 1917 when five men were ordained:

James Dawson
James A. Doak
Thomas Johnston
Stephen Mercer
James Thompson

In 1930 George Ervine was co-opted from (Magherally). There was not another election until 1934, when the following were ordained � Robert J. Kerr, J. H. Tweedie, S. J. Duffy, John Wilkinson, Henry Smyth and Robert Dawson.

At the time the Rev. Moore was ordained (April, 1946) only three elders remained � S. J. Duffy, J. Tweedie and Henry Smyth (died May, 1946) � and then there were two!.

On the 29th January 1947 five elders were ordained�James Ervine, Robert Mackey, James McCormick, Isaac McCready and William J. Thompson.

In October 1950, S. R. Patterson, B.Com.Sc. was co-opted and in October 1960 Robert Farquhar.

On the 20th September 1964 six elders were ordained�Nelson Andrews, Harold Hamilton, F. S. Jones, Thomas Kerr, James Walker, Cecil Whan.

Fred S. Jones has been on the Church Committee since 1943. He was appointed convener of the Property Committee the following year. For over forty years he served the congregation well in this capacity, supervising the many building projects as well as the day to day upkeep of the property. Recently Desmond Connery has taken on this responsibility.

On the 10th January 1971 William Coulter, Beattie Johnston, Herbert McDonald, John Mercer, Walter Smyth and John Wilkinson were ordained.

For eighteen years Beattie Johnston photographed the main events of the congregational year. It was always an excellent record and the slides were used at the Annual Congregational Social evening as a reminder of what had taken place. In years to come the slides, no doubt, will be of considerable historic interest.

For the fourth, time in the Rev. Moore's ministry elders were elected and ordained on the 2nd March 1980. They were N. Kenneth Aiken, Herbert Andrews, Samuel V. Carson and Cyril Latimer. Mr. Moore who was Moderator of Presbytery that year had the privilege of ordaining his own elders.

Ordination of Elders, 10th January, 1971

Back row:� Rev. H. R. Moore, Rev. W. L. McCombe, Rev. A. Watson, Rev. A. P. McComb. Second row:� Hebert McDonald, Walter Smyth, Rev. J. B. Irvine. Front row:� Beattie Johnston, John Mercer, William Coulter, John Wilkinson


William Thompson, Samuel Patterson, Robert Mackey, James Tweedie, Isaac McCready, Rev. H. Moore, S. J. Duffy (Clerk), James McCormick. Circa 1955. The Kirk Session, September, 1984. Back row:� Samuel Carson, Kenneth Aiken, Herbert McDonald, Beattie Johnston. Middle row:� Cyril Latimer, William Coulter, Herbert Andrews, Jon Mercer, John Wilkinson. Front row:� Harold Hamilton, Jim Walker (Clerk), Rev. H. R. Moore, Thomas Kerr, Cecil Whan, Frederick Jones.

William Thompson, Samuel Patterson, Robert Mackey, James Tweedie, Isaac McCready, Rev. H. Moore, S. J. Duffy (Clerk), James McCormick. Circa 1955.

The Kirk Session, September, 1984. Back row:� Samuel Carson, Kenneth Aiken, Herbert McDonald, Beattie Johnston. Middle row:� Cyril Latimer, William Coulter, Herbert Andrews, Jon Mercer, John Wilkinson. Front row:� Harold Hamilton, Jim Walker (Clerk), Rev. H. R. Moore, Thomas Kerr, Cecil Whan, Frederick Jones.

The earliest record of a meeting of the Kirk Session is the 28th December 1916. It was held to prepare for the vacancy, that would commence at the beginning of the New Year with the retirement of the Rev. Rentoul. The Rev. Thomas Doey, Convener in charge of the congregation, presided. At that meeting there were three elders, and two Committee members. There were two items of business, the appointment of a clerk and the drawing up of a list of voters.

Joshua Magowan, who had been ordained an elder in 1908, was appointed clerk and held this position until his death on the 12th March 1944 (by then if the last few days of the Rev. Rentoul's ministry are included he had served as clerk with six ministers). A week later on the 19th of the month Samuel J. Duffy was appointed and, like his predecessor. held the office until his death on the 15th April, 1967. At a special meeting of the Session held on the 6th June, Samuel R. Patterson, B. Com. Sc., was appointed clerk. He too was in office until his death in 1982.

The present clerk is James Walker, who was appointed at the May meeting of the Session that year. Mr. Walker's forebearers had been foundation members of the congregation. He has been apppointed to the Committee in January 1962, ordained an elder in 1964, appointed secretary of Committee in October 1973. He also taught a senior class in the Sunday School for 20 years. He had a loyal record of service to the congregation.


Apart from special meetings at the time of a vacancy or when there was an election of elders or committee the Session met just twice a year, May and November, to receive new communicants.

The pattern of these meetings remained the same and has been followed up to the present time. The new communicants were introduced, the minister indicated the instruction they had received and then after a few words of encouragement from an elder or sometimes a question, they received the Right Hand of Fellowship.

There was a short period in the twenties when the Session met once a quarter but this was discontinued as there was no business to transact.

Since the early seventies the Session has been meeting more often to deal with a great variety of matters.

There are now celebrations of the Lord's Supper on the first Sunday evening of September and on Good Friday evening as well as the stated observances in May and November.

During the period from 1946 there was a steady growth in the number attending the Lord's Supper. The peak was reached in 1969 when 246 persons attended at least one of the two communions.

In the early days of the congregation the lead token was used (see illustration). The first roll book dates back to May 1910 and it was at that point the change was made and card tokens were introduced to make the keeping of a roll possible.


James McCormack, Elder 1947-57 Treasurer 1934-57 Presented Pipe Organ 1953The congregation, it can be said, was fortunate in its office bearers, men who gave long and faithful service, men who gladly went the second mile. Unfortunately we have no records of the very early years. So we look at those who gave service from the turn of the century.

At that time the post of Secretary and Treasurer seems to have been combined. In the year 1900 it was held by a D. J. Spence. In 1905, a secretary and a treasurer were appointed. The new treasurer was James A. Doak who held the post until April 1934 when he resigned and left the congregation. He was succeeded by James McCormick who held the office until his death in October 1957.

On James McCormick's death Cecil Whan, who had been assistant treasurer, was appointed; like his predecessors he was a man who played many parts in the work of Banbridge Road. After 20 years he resigned and Kenneth Aiken was appointed on the 3rd October, 1977. He was ordained an elder in 1980. His hard work and efficiency are widely appreciated. His views expressed in meetings of Session and Committee are always of a high quality. He is regarded widely as a man who always has the good of the congregation at heart. The Synod appointed him to the Union Commission in 1984.

The first minutes to bear a secretary's name are dated the 2nd March 1914. They were signed by W. J. Hutchinson and he held the office until the end of 1927. The Committee recorded its appreciation in a special minute �"His duties as secretary were discharged with zeal and efficiency. His attendance at meetings of Committee was most exemplary, but his work as secretary was only one of the ways wherein he showed his loyalty and devotion to the congregation. We sincerely regret his resignation, which we must perforce accept, but we trust that he may be long spared to serve his church in such ways as he may find open to him. "

This could be said of many of those who were to hold office in the years ahead. J. H. Tweedie was appointed and was in office until March 1939. After this J. Bryson was appointed � he resigned after two years.

W. J. Thompson was then elected�a man who was to give abundant service to the congregation. He remained in office until he died in September 1973.

James Walker was the natural successor and remained secretary until he was appointed Clerk of Session in May 18, 1982.


In 1947 James McCormick, who had been associated with the congregation since childhood days, was honoured. As a young man he had been elected to the Committee and soon became assistant treasurer � later treasurer. For over 40 years he served the congregation in this capacity. It was said that his motto was `Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might." On receiving a silver salver, Mr. McCormick said that it was the conviction that he was serving Jesus Christ and His church, that was the source of his encouragement. He continued in office until his death in 1957.

His assistant, Cecil Whan, became treasurer and on retiring he too was the recipient of tangible recognition not only for his work as treasurer but for the many other services he had rendered the congregation over a period of more than 30 years, 20 of them as treasurer. He received a solid gold watch, suitably inscribed, a cheque and many good wishes � a well-deserved honour.

There was one other notable presentation and that was to S. J. Duffy, who had been a member of the Church Committee for over 40 years, a member of the Kirk Session for 30 years and clerk for 20 years. In March 1964 the congregation expressed its grateful appreciation. S. R. Patterson, introducing the presentation, said: `During your time connected with this congregation you have contributed in no small way to the growth and development of the church under the leadership of five of its eight ministers." The Rev. Moore's comment on the occasion was "No man could have taken a greater interest in a congregation than that which had been taken by Mr. Duffy, and in all his work he was supported by his wife, who always gave of her best for Banbridge Road. Mr. Duffy received a T.V. set and Mrs. Duffy received a cut glass vase.


Members of the Tennis Club 1926. The Rev. Bates (top left); Mrs. J. C. Wilson wife of Dr. Wilson with a bouquet of flowers having declared the Club open for the season

Membership Card 1947The Banbridge Road Tennis Club began during the Rev. Bates' ministry in the Spring of 1926, The flat lawn, in front of the old manse, was prepared and used as a court. Later a grass court was laid on the ground at the side of the church. After the building of the hall a hard court and a second court (grass) were laid out. This in turn was converted into a hard court. The club flourished until the army took over the hall during the Second War. After the war, when the courts became available again, they were resurfaced and the club revived. However, a series of bad summers followed by the building of the Minor Hall and the need for a greater car parking area brought about the end of the club.

The club was at its best during the years immediately before the army took over the hall during the war. The Rev. Mulholland, who was a keen player, gave the club considerable support in those successful years.


As is stated elsewhere, the first organization to use the hall after it was built was the Badminton Club. This was formed in October 1933 and is still playing a part in the life of the congregation. It is understood that those early years were very enthusiastic. Badminton Clubs were not very common in country churches; � at that time not many had a sufficiently large hall. Another factor was the difficulty of travelling to play matches � motor cars were still for the few. If a team wanted to travel, very often taxis had to be used. So at that time the club was a place of friendship and very local in its activity.

When the war came the club, like the other organizations, lost the use of the hall from 1939 to 1945. After the war when the hall was vacated, the club was re-established, and to create interest in the sport exhibition matches were arranged. These were given by T. H. Boyle's team from Belfast, who at the time were considered the experts and had a fine record. The club, like other organizations, had its ups and downs, good years and bad years. However, the interest was maintained and on a number of years leagues were won � in more recent years the Ballinderry League (several times) and the Ballyward League.

Miss Winnie Hamilton, who, as secretary of the club for many years. carried much of the responsibility, deserves a special mentions.

There was also a Junior Club which attracted a large number of girl and boys, some of whom became quite skilful players. Those who took or the responsibility of training the young people found that the real problem was looking after those who were not playing and keeping them interested while they waited. For this reason the Junior Club had an erratic history.


In First Kings Ch. 7 verse 22 we read `And upon the tops of the pillars was lily work; so the work of the pillars was finished.' This beautiful work would never be seen or appreciated by those who entered the great temple of Solomon to worship, but the work had been faithfully done.

Much of the work in a congregation is not seen but it is done and well done by faithful hands playing their part making their contribution; perhaps on the `top of the pillar' not seen by man but seen and known by God.

In Isaiah Ch 41 verse 7 we read, `So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith.' Ministers past and present, leaders and Sunday School teachers salute their encouragers. They are not mentioned in this book, but their words, their prayers, their helping hands sustained those who were bearing the responsibility.'


Since the end of June, 1988 the following appointments have been made:�

Mrs. Premila Aiken appointed treasurer,
Miss Sharon Oldham has taken charge of the Anchor Boys,
Dr. Roy McNeice appointed secretary,
Garry Connery appointed Captain of the B.B.,
Mrs. P. Brown secretary of I.B.R.A.

At present the Church Officer is Bobbie Peden who for the last 15 years has, with his wife, Sylvia, been responsible for the cleaning of the buildings and the maintaining of the grounds.

Author's Farewell Address

The Author's Farewell Address in which he recalled thirty-eight years of the congregation's life and work and expressed his hopes for its future.

The time has come for me to say farewell � farewell as your active minister and to step down and let someone else take the responsibility as minister of this congregation. This day seemed a long way away on the 4th of April 1946 when I was ordained and installed as your minister. I will always remember the wonderful welcome I received. It has been a long ministry, but I can truthfully say after over thirty eight years, the longer I have been with you the more attached I have become to this place, so that to decide to retire was not an easy matter. However, in a sense the decision was made for me. Indeed nothing would give me greater satisfaction, or please me more than to be the minister of Banbridge Road for the next few years, which in this quickly developing area of ours will be very exciting years and full of promise for the congregation. I have decided to retire at this time for the very good reason that I feel no longer able to give the congregation the time and work it needs. I simply can't cope with all that needs to be done.

Many of my ministerial friends who have retired did not give a farewell address and I can understand why. First of all, it is a very emotional thing to look back over 38 years of work and relationships, and secondly it is so impossible to say all the things one would want to say and one ought to say in a short address. Where does one begin looking back over so many years? The members who called me to be the minister in this place in early 1946 have mostly passed from our midst and the first fifteen years have largely been forgotten, yet to me, in some ways, they were the more exciting � a church building in very bad repair, requiring an expenditure of �20,000; in to-day's money-value, about 200 thousand pounds and just 160 families recovering from the war years. It seemed impossible, but it was done and you have this very beautiful church in which to worship our God. And then over the next 15 years our hall was enlarged and additional halls built. I came to the congregation shortly after the army had handed back the hall. You wanted organizations and soon we had a G.B., B.B. and P.W.A. as well as the Tennis and Badminton Clubs revived. They had been suspended during the war years. Against this background of organizations commencing and renovations being planned and carried out, we needed families and this began to happen, slowly at first, but in recent years more quickly until to-day the congregation has virtually doubled. I want to pay my tribute to the loyalty of our families. A congregation can do without many things, but not without loyal and faithful members. I acknowledge with grateful thanks your loyalty to me and to Banbridge Road and I pray that you all may be given a vision of loyalty to sustain you during the vacancy. Under my successor with loyalty and dedication this congregation can achieve very wonderful things in the years ahead for God and the advancement of His Kingdom. Your congregation is worthy of your support and endeavours. `Ask not what it can do for you, but what you can do for it.' Give it your best in love and service. It will be blessed and so will you.

I am not going to spend more time surveying the past for it would lead us to think of those worthy people who have dropped out of our ranks, people who loved and worked for the good of this place; it would lead us to think of the sacrifices of the years and tinge our hearts with sadness. I feel at this time our hearts should be full of rejoicing and gratitude to God for we have so much for which to be grateful, by way of material blessings and spiritual enrichment. Here we are at this point in time, a strong fellowship with organizations to suit all ages and tastes. Your elders and committee capable men and women who have the good of the congregation at heart, but in view of the size of the congregation now, they will need to be strengthened in the near future. I thank them as I do all the leaders, office bearers and Sunday School teachers who have given me so much help and support, not forgetting the choir and organists who lead our worship so fittingly.

So then at this milestone where one journey ends, while being grateful for the past, it is important that you as a congregation look forward to the road of promise and opportunity which stretches before you. In adopting this attitude and spirit you can best serve your congregation and the one who in providence of God will minister here. That was the attitude of those kindly people in 1946 and I shall never forget all the tolerance and goodwill which I received in those early days and throughout the years. From all I have experienced I know your prayers and goodwill, will buoy me up at a time like this which is inevitably tinged with sadness. For the great tasks ahead of this congregation commit yourselves with diligence. Grasp the new opportunity and go forward. If you, want a text, it is found in Exodus Ch. 14. The voice of God said to Moses. `Speak to the children of Israel that they go forward' I feel that God is saying to you as a congregation of God's people `Think of the future and go forward knowing that God will guide you.' People are inclined to say at a time like this things will never be the same again and of course in a sense they never are the same again. Together we had our way of doing things and getting things done. You and my successor will do things differently and I am sure much better. If you have any love for me see that this church is as full every Sunday for my successor as it is for me today and you can begin by practising this during the vacancy. The basic thing as you face the future is to make sure that God is guiding you. There will be changes. Those who refuse to accept change cannot be guided anywhere by anyone.

Think what this congregation can achieve and how Christ's Kingdom can be extended under fresh dynamic leadership. It can leap forward into the years ahead. Make sure you have spiritual vision, without that all your success will turn to dust and ashes. It was once said of some people `they have forsaken Christ and turned to His service instead.' Keep the `instead' out of your life. Let the Christ be the beginning and the ending of all your endeavours. Let your heart and life be filled with goodwill and let your goodness be infectious.

I want to put my closing message in this way. It may be that you are facing a time when life is difficult and you are feeling inadequate and hopeless. Here are some words from a Harley Street psychiatrist. The patient was telling the doctor how his life had crashed in upon him. He was full of guilt and blaming himself bitterly for his sad state. The psychiatrist said something very simple yet so very profound. `If a man slips on a banana skin on the footpath and falls crashing to the ground, what does he do. He doesn't lie there. He gets up, he kicks the banana skin into the gutter and then he goes on'. We have all done things we regret. We have all fallen to the ground and hated ourselves for our fall, but thank God for the Gospel of His Redeeming Love which urges us to accept forgiveness, to rise, and live again. Don't let us keep dwelling on our failures, our faults and falls. Let us rob them of any further power to hurt us. (Let us) kick them into the gutter and go forward God supporting us.

And now I must say farewell. Thank you for all your love and loyalty: your prayers and support. I shall never forget you all. Move forward now to new tasks, new adventures for God, the God who was with you in the past and who already beckons you to go forward into the future with promise. At this point in time you and I can both say:

March on my soul with strength
He who has led will lead
While year succeedeth year
And as thou goeth on thy way
His hand shall hold thee day by day.

I say farewell, I say it as a prayer for you: May you FARE WELL

This address was preached by the Rev. H. R. Moore on the 23rd September, 1984.