IT HAS been said that Church History is a cordial for drooping spirits. If that
is true-and few of us will deny it-all who read this story of First Lisburn
Presbyterian Church will experience something of that uplift of heart. It has
been written by Mr. Ivan Craig. Like the other members of his family, Mr. Craig
has a deep affection for the church of his youth and manhood, and in preparing
this account of its fortunes during the past three hundred years or so that have
come and gone he has spared no pains to ensure its accuracy.
First Lisburn is fortunate in possessing records that go back almost to the
beginnings of its long and honoured history. Many years ago some of the more
ancient of these records were carefully and beautifully restored at the British
Museum through the instrumentality of the late Sir Theodore Hope. Of these Mr.
Craig has made a careful study and they open a window into a world that is in
many ways very different from that in which we live. Nonetheless the Divine
Truths on which the men and women of those days sustained their lives were in
all essential respects the same as those on which we seek to sustain our lives
today, and we shall all be the better of recalling their faith and devotion.
Not only do these researches help us to picture the men and women of old
Lisnagarvey-Lisburn as we now call it-they help us also to understand something
of the way in which Presbyterianism came to be established in this province of
Ulster. Undoubtedly the fascinating story will be read with deep interest by all
into whose hands it comes.
I feel deeply honoured by being asked to write the foreword to this history of
First Lisburn. Most cordially do I commend it and wish for it the success it so
well deserves. May it help to deepen still further the love which those of us
who were brought up in the old congregation will always bear towards it.
James C. Breakey.
45 Cadogan Park,
Some attempt has been made to set the history of the Congregation within the
wider context of the Church, Country and Town, but this aspect of the story must
be regarded as very incomplete.
There are many avenues left unexplored and unexplained. It is hoped, however,
that sufficient has been done to provide a, picture of Presbyterianism in the
town and to honour the memory of those who played an important part in its
development, particularly in this historic Congregation.
As far as possible I have quoted verbatim from sources and I have leant
heavily upon the works of others. A list of those sources and works will be
found at the end of the book.
I am particularly indebted to the Rev. Professor J. M. Barkley, M.A., Ph.D.,
D.D., who read the typescript and made many helpful suggestions. Miss Stewart of
the Presbyterian Historical Society also afforded me much assistance. Mr. H. A.
Duff collaborated most effectively in the provision of photographs. I have been
assisted and encouraged by many others to whom I am most grateful.
ONE HUNDRED years ago the Committee of the then Lisburn Presbyterian Church
decided that the congregational records should be edited and a history of the
Congregation compiled. The work was duly delegated but, as far as can be
ascertained, did not proceed any further. The project was revived by the Rev.
Boyd in 1958 when he suggested I should carry out the task and I have presumed
to do so fully conscious of my limitations in presenting a worthy account of the
story of this old congregation.
The Very Rev. J. C. Breakey, D.D. son of a revered father, who was Minister
of First Lisburn for fifty-two years, provides the foreword. A former Moderator
the General Assembly, an office which he filled with such grace and distinction,
it is most appropriate that, in this way, he associates himself with the History
of the Congregation.
W. I. CRAIG.
14 Clonevin Park,'
Lisburn, Co. Antrim.