A Tale of Two Churches
Two Centuries of Methodism at Priesthill:
1786 — 1986

Chapter 9

A Time of Change and Challenge

The year 1938 was an important one in Methodism, being the two hundredth anniversary of the conversion of John and Charles Wesley. It was also the centenary year of Zion, Priesthill. The event was celebrated by special services on Sunday, 21st August, and a social gathering of members and friends of the congregation on Thursday evening, 25th August. The preacher at both services on the Sunday was Rev. W. J. Rooney, a former minister, and the soloist was Mr. David McAlpin. On Thursday evening the large assembly were entertained to tea by the ladies, after which Rev. Samuel G. McIntyre (superintendent of the circuit) presided, and read letters of greeting from former ministers who were unable to be present. Short addresses were given by Rev. F. H. Scott Maguire, Rev. Francis E. Morrow, and Rev. David C. Hutchinson (former ministers), and by Rev. W. T. Brownlee, Mr. David B. McCready, Mr. Philip Hinds, and Mr. Fred H. Menary. Rev. Thomas Dunn, B.A., of Maze Presbyterian Church also conveyed greetings, and solos were rendered by Mrs. Gracey, Mr. William Fullerton, and Miss Edith Stewart (violin).

In old minute books one frequently finds that special week-night events in the winter were planned to take place when there would be a full moon, for the benefit of travellers. Minutes of a leaders' meeting, held on 21st November, 1938, state: "The Congregational Social was then discussed at some length, and it was decided to hold same in the moonlight early in January."

A Boys' Brigade Company had been formed by Rev. G. Wesley Doonan shortly after his arrival in the summer of 1938, and the minutes record that the first B.B. enrolment service was to be held at Priesthill on Sunday afternoon, 12th March, 1939. In its infancy the Boys' Brigade was referred to as "1st Priesthill Company".

In June 1939 the leaders of Broomhedge and Priesthill had a combined leaders' meeting in Zion Schoolroom. These joint quarterly meetings of both societies were held alternately at the two churches up to and including December 1941.

Arrangements had been made for the 1939 Harvest Thanksgiving services to take place, as was customary, during the last weekend in September. However, with the outbreak of war occurring at the beginning of that month, all Priesthill leaders present at the meeting on 14th September decided "that we do not hold the Praise Service on 25th September, owing to the black-out conditions prevailing. Also that the Sunday evening service commence at 5 p.m. instead of 6.30 hitherto." Supplies of black-out material were subsequently purchased for the windows of the Church and schoolroom.

During the early months of the war the quiet rural seclusion of the Maze was shattered by the Air Ministry's decision that the Moss would be a suitable site for the creation of an RAF airfield. Consequently the families who lived there, some for generations, were forced to leave and find homes elsewhere. The new airfield became known as Long Kesh. In addition, British and later, American soldiers were stationed at the Maze racecourse. A number of His Majesty's forces found a spiritual home at Priesthill whilst stationed in the area.

Several ladies of the district decided to form a knitting class in order to provide socks and helmets for the troops. They met regularly at Pinetree House, home of the Misses Edith and Marion Stewart. The Belfast Telegraph of Thursday, 15th February, 1940 carried the following report:

"The Duchess of Abercorn, who was accompanied by Commander Oscar Henderson, D.S.O., attended a service on Sunday afternoon last in Priesthill Church under the auspices of the local Women's Knitting Guild. The church was filled to capacity, whilst a large crowd was compelled to remain on the roadway. The 1st Priesthill Company Boys' Brigade (connected with the Broomhedge and Priesthill Churches), with the company colour party, paraded, headed by the Hillsborough Brass Band. A guard of honour was mounted by the brigade outside the entrance gates, her Grace being received with the general salute.

"Accompanied by Miss Edith M. Stewart and Rev. G. Wesley Doonan, the Duchess inspected the ranks of this company. A feature of the service was the hearty congregational singing, led by Miss Jean Fullerton at the organ. Mr. T. M'Cormack (Belfast) sang the solos — "Rest" and "0 for a Closer Walk with God". Rev. G. Wesley Doonan conducted the service and gave the address. The generous offering will be devoted to her Grace's Comforts Fund for members of our fighting forces.

"The following were stewards and collectors: Dr. Harry Maginess, Messrs. E. T. Green, E. Brady, W. Fullerton, E. Wilson and E. Hood. Captain Rev. G. Wesley Doonan, assisted by Lieuts. Hinds, Brady and Parkinson was in command of the parade."

At the March 1940 leaders' meeting, the Sunday School anniversary services to be held in June were arranged, and it was stated that the Boys' Brigade would parade to the services on Sunday and Monday evenings. A decision was taken in 1941 to discontinue the Monday evening service.

In 1942 Mr. John Brown of Lisburn became captain of the Boys' Brigade, a position which he occupied with distinction for thirty-one years.

No doubt during the war years there were many curtailments in repairs and improvements to church property, but most of the normal activities of the church continued. There were home and overseas missionary meetings, some congregational socials, and also the distribution of Sunday School prizes. An event which appears understandably to have been discontinued was the Sunday School outing. With the war ended we find plans being made to take the children by bus to Newcastle on 6th July 1946.

Since it was found that the wooden sash frames of the church windows needed to be renewed, a decision was made to replace them by windows with leaded lights. These were installed in 1949, and the appearance of the little sanctuary was thereby greatly enhanced.

In the late 1940s a branch of the Methodist Women's Department was established. This organisation still continues to meet, but under the revised name of Methodist Women's Association. Throughout the years the ladies have given tremendous support to the work of God overseas, as well as raising funds for worthy causes nearer home.

Priesthill has always had a special place in the affections of Dr. Benjamin V. Megarry, not least because his mother, daughter of Rev. Benjamin Child, was born at the manse, and her earliest years were spent there. Reference has already been made to the excellent work carried out by Rev. B. Child when stationed at Priesthill. On the afternoon of Sunday, 3rd June, 1951, a large congregation was assembled in Zion for a service during which two memorial tablets, presented by Dr. Megarry, were unveiled. One tablet bears loving tribute to Mrs. Annie Elizabeth Megarry (Dr. Megarry's mother) and his grandparents; the other tablet is "in memory of all humble and faithful souls who have served the Master in this corner of His vineyard from the earliest formation of a society of `the people called Methodists' ".

A Girls' Life Brigade Company was formed in the early 1950s, and it fulfilled the great need for a girls' organisation in the area. From its inception it has been enthusiastically supported by girls not only from the Priesthill and Broomhedge churches to which it is attached but also from neighbouring churches. The first officers were Captain Isobel Kennedy (now Mrs. Haslem), and Lieutenant Muriel Dougherty (now Mrs. Adams). With the amalgamation of the Girls' Life Brigade and the Girls' Brigade some years ago, the Company is now known as "1st Broomhedge Girls' Brigade". Miss Sylvia Adams (Captain) and some of the officers are foundation members. They and the other officers have given excellent and loyal service throughout the years.

The Senior Christian Endeavour Society had ceased to function for a few years, and in the autumn of 1951 it was decided to resume the meetings. Although the aim was to attract young people it was considered best to retain it as a Senior Society, thereby admitting members of the older generation as well. From small beginnings the membership grew to over thirty, of varying ages and from a wide area. The C.E. proved to be a source of useful training and good fellowship, and continued for almost twenty years.

Also in the autumn of 1951 a Table Tennis Club was formed by the efforts of several young men in the church, and it existed for eleven years. Initially the membership was open to any who wished to join, but in later years it was restricted to present members, and also members of the church or of the other organisations. The Club played a worthwhile role in bringing together young people for fun and fellowship, and many happy memories are retained by former members.

Mains electricity came to the district in 1952, and no time was lost in making arrangements to connect with the supply. A service of dedication of the new lighting system was held on Sunday afternoon, 31st August, 1952, when the special preacher was the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, Rev. Henry N. Medd. There was a wonderful sense of the presence and nearness of the risen Lord at this service.

In February 1954 the evangelists, Mr. and Mrs. Bert Wheeler, conducted a mission in the schoolroom, and through these meetings some came to a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ as their Saviour.

The members of the local Orange lodge, Star of Maze, expressed their desire to hold a service bi-annually in the church, the venue on alternate years to be Maze Presbyterian Church. Permission was readily accorded, and the first of these services took place at Priesthill on 21st November, 1954. These services continue to be held, and June is now the chosen month. The offerings are devoted to the Methodist Orphan Society and the Lord Enniskillen Memorial Orphan Fund.

Priesthill Methodist Church Re-Opened  
Priesthill Methodist Church Re-Opened 
From left to right: Rev. R. J. Black (Donacloney), Rev. J. Mathers, Rev. R. W. McVeigh (Chairman of Belfast District), Rev. R. J. Good (President of Methodist Church in Ireland), Rev. H. Irvine (Superintendent of Lisburn Circuit), Rev. W. Crowe (Broomhedge and Priesthill). Photographs as published by the 'Lisburn Standard'  
From left to right: Rev. R. J. Black (Donacloney), Rev. J. Mathers, Rev. R. W. McVeigh (Chairman of Belfast District), Rev. R. J. Good (President of Methodist Church in Ireland), Rev. H. Irvine (Superintendent of Lisburn Circuit), Rev. W. Crowe (Broomhedge and Priesthill).
Photographs as published by the 'Lisburn Standard' p;
As Priesthill lacked kitchen facilities, the young men of the Table Tennis Club offered to build a kitchen and toilets adjoining the schoolroom, the church providing the materials. The project was under the supervision of Mr. Sydney McCready, and the minutes record that the young men were highly commended for the way in which they undertook this work. On Sunday afternoon, 13th March, 1955, Mrs. Joseph Jordan performed the opening ceremony, and afterwards a service of dedication was held in the Church, the preacher being Rev. Ernest Shaw, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland. Others taking part were Rev. Robert J. Black (minister), Rev. Alfred Collins (supt. of Lisburn circuit), and Mr. Philip Hinds. The soloist was Miss Silcock of Lurgan, and the organist was Miss Muriel Dougherty.

The need for an adequate entrance porch to the Church was discussed at a meeting on 8th March, 1956, and Mr. Sydney McCready kindly consented to prepare plans and obtain estimates for its erection. The porch was completed in September 1956, and a dedicatory prayer was offered at the Harvest Sunday morning service.

The installation of mains water supply to the church premises was effected in the summer of 1958. Previously water had been procured by means of a rotary pump.

In late 1957 the earthly life of Miss Margaret Ann Baird came to an end. Born in 1868, she had been a life-long member of Zion, and had resided in the manse adjoining the Church since the middle of 1932. How many changes in the life of Priesthill she must have witnessed, and how much she could have told had we asked her whilst she was still with us! She was a most faithful member in her attendance at the House of God and, according to the records, was teaching in the Sunday School in the late 1880s. Miss Baird, sister of Mr. John Baird previously mentioned, was one of the first ladies to be appointed to the leaders' board in 1917.

It could be said that with her departure from amongst us it was the end of an era. Around the time of her death plans were beginning to be formulated to refurbish the little church, and the following year its internal appearance was transformed. It all began when someone told the minister that he would like to present a gift in memory of his parents. This idea caught the imagination of others also, and very soon there was a considerable list of gifts which members and former members wished to present in memory of relatives. The old pulpit was removed and the new one installed, together with the remaining furnishings. The pews were re-varnished, and all was in readiness for Sunday afternoon, 31st August 1958, when a large congregation assembled for the service of dedication. The dedicatory prayer was offered and the address given by Rev. Robert J. Good, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland. Other ministers taking part were: Rev. Herbert Irvine (superintendent of the Lisburn circuit), Rev. Robert W. McVeigh (Chairman of the Belfast District), Rev. Joseph Mathers, B.A. (a former minister), Rev. W. Eric Carson (Magheragall), and Rev. Walter Crowe (minister). The soloist, Mrs. Johnston, sang "How Lovely are Thy Dwellings". After the service many of the friends were entertained to tea in the schoolroom.

In January 1960 two Cliff College evangelists conducted a mission in the Church. It was well attended and many received blessing. The young evangelists also held children's meetings in the schoolroom prior to the services, and after the mission had ended the Sunshine Corner, as it was called, was continued weekly by Miss Edith Stewart, who was later assisted by Miss Margaret Robinson. This work was very fruitful, many of the children professing to yield their lives to the Lord. The Sunshine Corner continued until the summer of 1966.

During 1961 the manse, which had previously been occupied by Miss Baird, was rented to Mr. and Mrs. H. Loane, the front room being retained by the Church for use as a vestry.

As money was needed in 1962 to augment Church funds, Mrs. D. C. Fullerton of `Orrfield' offered her home for an Afternoon Tea Party, and suggested Saturday, 28th April, as a possible date for the occasion. There was glorious weather on that day. Tea was served in the house, and there were stalls in the garden for the sale of produce. The event was greatly enjoyed and was a financial success.

Some land beside the Church was being offered for sale in 1962, and since it was felt that this would be invaluable for possible future needs, it was purchased. In 1965 a car park was provided, leaving an ample site for the new hall which was to follow.

It was realized in 1964 that Mr. David McCready was approaching the Jubilee year of his superintendency of the Sunday School, and a small committee was set up to consider how best this occasion might be marked. The committee were aware that anything that might be done would only be token, since it was impossible adequately to express the esteem in which this man of God was held by the many who knew him. Eventually it was decided to launch a "David B. McCready Jubilee Fund", to perpetuate his name, and the money was invested on behalf of the Sunday School. Mr. McCready was presented with an inscribed copy of the Methodist Hymn Book, and a commemorative book with the following inscription:

"This book contains the names of scholars and teachers past and present and other friends of Zion Methodist Sunday School who, wishing to express their gratitude to Mr. David B. McCready for his long and faithful service of fifty years as Sunday School superintendent, and for the wonderful example he has given, have united in creating the 'David B. McCready Jubilee Fund'.

June 1964"

Perhaps it is well this was done in advance of his Jubilee year (which would have been 1966), since on a September morning in 1965 our dear friend joined with other loved ones in that 'land that is fairer than day'. His Homecall was sudden. He had been in his usual health on the previous Sunday morning, and had made arrangements with a few friends to re-commence the winter session of the Saturday evening prayer meeting. The following tributes are copied from the minutes of the leaders' meeting held a few days after his death:

"Mr. Allen (Rev. A. B. Allen) paid tribute to the memory of Mr. McCready for his untiring work in the Sunday School and amongst young people, and thanked God for a life lived to the fullest for his Lord and Master. Mr. D. C. Fullerton also spoke of Mr. McCready's work in the Sunday School and on the Leaders' Board, and stated that he never seemed to weary in well-doing and his life was an example to many. His heart was in the Sunday School and with the children. We thanked God for his memory, and mourned not for him but for ourselves. . . ."

Mr. David B. McCready 
Mr. David B. McCready
These words so adequately express his worth and witness that little can be added. Truly he loved his work amongst the children, and often said that being with young people helped one to remain young. The truths he taught in the Sunday School often come to mind, and we do indeed thank God for every remembrance of him.

Mr. Lawrence Mitchell was called upon to fill the post of superintendent. He had been brought up in the Sunday School and had been a teacher for a number of years.  Under Mr. Mitchell's superintendency the Sunday School continued to flourish, but two years later, in November 1967, he felt he should resign for family reasons since he and his family had moved to Lisburn.

The position was then occupied by Mr. Sydney McCready who served for twelve years. During this period the children commenced entering the Scripture Union Bible Contest and there were some notable successes. There were other innovations: occasionally a film with a Christian message, and also a Top Ten chorus chart.

In 1979, Mr. Will Stafford became superintendent. Although the children continue to participate in the Scripture Union Bible Contest, it is rather difficult at present due to the young age of Sunday School members. The traditional outing to the seaside has been superseded by Mourne walks and similar activities.

A fortnight of special services commenced in the Church on 5th March 1967. During the first week a theme was followed by different visiting ministers. Rev. Wesley Gray was the speaker during the second week, and these services were challenging and inspiring.

The ladies embarked upon another fund-raising enterprise in 1968 by providing teas for Orangemen and the general public attending the Twelfth Demonstration, held that year at Hillsborough. The premises of Hillsborough Rifle Club were kindly granted for the catering, and the ladies found this effort enjoyable and profitable.

It was arranged to have a series of film services in the Church each evening for five or six nights during November, 1970. The films were lent by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and featured Crusade meetings. These services were much appreciated.

The year 1971 saw the commencement of the children's church. Children aged eight and under leave the church service before the address and have Bible stories, etc., in the church hall. Throughout the years the children's church has been under the care of Dr. Helen Fullerton, and parents with young children value this provision.

In the early 1970s a Youth Club was formed, and it is now well established. The membership is drawn from a wide area and indoor and outdoor sporting activities are included.

Laying of Foundation Stones of new church hall on 21st June 1974.
Laying of Foundation Stones of new church hall on 21st June 1974.
From left: Rev. Herbert Irvine (former superintendent of Lisburn circuit
Mr. Sydney McCready (architect), Miss Edith Stewart, Dr. Benjamin Megarry, Rev. John Fee (minister).

With the recent opening of the Maze prison in mind, it was suggested at a leaders' meeting on 8th March, 1972 that thought might be given to "the provision of some comforts for the soldiers guarding Long Kesh." This matter was left for discussion by the ladies. In common with some of the churches in the area it was decided to provide cakes and home-baked bread. A rota of churches was arranged, and the ministers undertook to deliver these provisions to the army camp. After two years it was decided to discontinue the practice since catering facilities had improved considerably.

In later years Miss Edith Stewart loved to recall an event which occurred one Monday evening at Priesthill schoolroom. The occasion was the annual congregational social. An extract from the church magazine, The Light, is given below, and it describes what happened:

"Seldom has our little hall at Priesthill held such a crowd of people as assembled there on the evening of 14th February, 1973 (the evening of the big snow) to honour a person much loved and respected by all who are connected with the Church. It is just forty years since Miss Edith Stewart, with her sister May, came to reside in the district, during which time she has given very loyal and devoted service to the Church by helping to train choirs for Sunday School Anniversaries and Harvests. She has always loved young people and for many years has been a teacher in the Sunday School. For the past twenty years she has acted in a most efficient manner as secretary to the Leaders' Board, and is a valued leader and secretary of the Women's Department.

Each year it has been customary to hold a Congregational Social. This year the Leaders decided to make the occasion a special one in honour of Miss Stewart. It was difficult to do this without arousing her suspicion as to what was coming, but eventually after much careful planning the day arrived, and as the hour for celebration drew near Miss Stewart was conveyed to the hall by car, to be greeted by a house packed with her friends. After a sit-down meal served by a catering firm, and the cutting of a beautiful Valentine Cake baked and decorated by two members of the congregation, Mr. Fee welcomed all who were present and called on the Society Steward, Mr. W. E. S. Fullerton, to introduce the programme. From early Minute books he had built up a brief history of the activities in which Miss Stewart had been engaged over the years. He then called on friends who had been connected with the Church to relate some incident associated with Miss Stewart. Those taking part included Mr. William Fullerton, Mr. Winston F. Reynolds, and Mrs. R. J. Black, each of whom referred to the meticulous and thorough way in which Miss Stewart carried through everything she undertook in connection with the Church.

"On the completion of the speeches, Mr. W. E. S. Fullerton, on behalf of the members of the congregation, asked our guest of honour to accept a stereophonic record player as a token of the esteem in which she was held, and Master Richard Campbell (the youngest child in the Sunday School) handed Miss Stewart an illuminated scroll bearing the names of all the friends who wished to be associated with the occasion. . . . Miss Stewart replied and thanked the friends for their generosity and good wishes. She explained that everything she did for the Church was always a pleasure and that the honour conferred on her far outdid any service she had rendered.

"The evening concluded with a musical programme . . . ."

In the early part of 1973 a great sense of sadness and loss was experienced by the sudden Homecall of Mr. John Brown, Captain of 1st Maze Company of the Boys' Brigade. John was a member of Seymour Street Methodist Church, and throughout his long captaincy he travelled from Lisburn to either Priesthill or Broomhedge to attend the B.B. It is true to say that he was, and still is, a legend. The boys who passed through 1st Maze B.B. had the highest opinion of his character and integrity. Behind the pulpit in the church at Priesthill there is a beautiful window, presented by the Old Boys of the Company in memory of their former Captain. The top portion of the window bears the injunction:

"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth."

The following is an extract of a tribute to John, which appeared in The Light shortly after his death:

". . . He had a unique way of dealing with boys. His attitude was never harsh yet his presence and command brought immediate reaction from the boys. To say he was respected by them is an understatement, it was more a sort of hero worship, and no boy either at present in the Company or who has passed through its ranks can think of him without feeling an intense sense of loss.

"There are scores of boys (now grown men) who attribute their sense of honesty, manliness, and success in life to the training they received under John Brown in the 1st Maze B.B. Company. The secret of life for John Brown was his love for his Lord, and that love he sought to implant in the minds of the boys in his care. . . ."

Since 1973 the position of Captain of 1st Maze Boys' Brigade has been filled by Mr. Brian Adams, who has been a member since his boyhood days and was serving as an officer at the time of Mr. Brown's death. Throughout the years the Company has been admirably served by men of Christian conviction. Mr. Billy McClenaghan, a lieutenant, is another long-serving member. The churches at Broomhedge and Priesthill are deeply grateful to the Captain and Mr. McClenaghan and the other officers for their self-sacrifice and devotion.

In August of the same year another highly-esteemed and much loved figure was taken from our midst. Mr. John Kirkpatrick, a native of Cullybackey, had been residing in Hillsborough for about twenty years since his appointment as Head Gardener at Government House, the residence of the Governor of Northern Ireland. Since coming to live in the area, Mr. and Mrs. Kirkpatrick and their family had worshipped at Priesthill and had made many friends. It was a joy to hear Mr. Kirkpatrick discuss plants and flowers of which he had a wealth of knowledge. After his death it was considered appropriate that a tree be planted in his memory in the grounds at Priesthill.

It was decided to re-commence a meeting during the week for children, and in the early 1970s a Good News Club was formed. Visual aids for Bible stories have an important place in the programme, and there are Bible quizzes and choruses. The Club still continues to meet during the winter months, under the leadership of Mrs. Margaret McCready.

The Sunday evening services were not well attended and had not been for years. A decision was taken at a leaders' meeting on 5th December, 1973 to hold an evening service only once a month. Perhaps in future days the weekly Sunday evening service will be resumed.

New hall when completed. Opening ceremony was on 30th November 1974. 
New hall when completed. Opening ceremony was on 30th November 1974.

At a leaders' meeting on 8th March, 1972, it had been suggested that consideration be given to the building of a church hall. The approval and support of the congregation were sought, and it was eventually agreed that this scheme should proceed. All the necessary permission was granted and the plans were drawn up by Mr. Sydney McCready. On the evening of Friday, 21st June, 1974, a large congregation of members and friends gathered for the laying of foundation stones by Miss Edith Stewart and Dr. Benjamin V. Megarry, and the dedication of the new hall (yet to be built) by Rev. Herbert Irvine, a former superintendent of Lisburn circuit. It was an impressive service in the church, with prayers led by Rev. John Fee, a member of the leaders' board, the architect, a Sunday School teacher, a member of the Youth Fellowship, and Rev. H. Irvine. The soloist was Mr. Eric Hinds. The congregation processed from the church to the site of the hall singing the hymn, "Fill Thou my life, 0 Lord my God, in every part with praise." Following the ceremony of stone-laying, Rev. H. Irvine concluded with the prayer:

"Here may faith in God, with brotherly love, ever abide. May this place which today we have set apart with prayers and praise, minister to the eternal purposes of God and the needs of His people here, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen."

The large assembly were entertained to supper both within and outside the schoolroom. It was a warm summer evening, and a most memorable occasion.

Fund-raising efforts had begun during the previous year. These included contributions to the Building Fund by special envelopes; a sponsored walk to Newcastle; catering at Hillsborough and Lisburn for different organisations; and a Harvest Fair at `Orrfield'. In addition, there was a generous donation from the Rank Trust.

The date of the service for the opening of the new hall was arranged for Saturday, 30th November, 1974. The hall comprises a main hall, minor hall, kitchen, and cloakroom and toilet facilities. The leaders unanimously agreed that the minor hall should be named 'The Philip Hinds Room', and a plaque bearing the details be displayed in the room; also that Mr. Paul Lang from the Rank Trust be invited to perform the opening ceremony, and Mrs. Florence Ferguson be requested to unveil the plaque in memory of her late father. There was a very large congregation on that afternoon, who joined together in a wonderful paean of praise to God for what had been accomplished. Since that date an extension has been made to the hall for storage of equipment, and this was largely financed by a government grant through the Youth Council which is in existence.

A request was received from the Faith Mission for permission to hold a mission in the hall during February 1975, and this was unanimously granted. The mission continued for four weeks, and there were good attendances.

During 1976 a Bowling Club was added to the church's activities. This has encouraged fellowship between people of the different churches in the area, and has gone from strength to strength due to the enthusiasm of Mr. Joseph Kennedy. 

For many years a harmonium had been used in the church to lead the singing. It was realized that this instrument needed to be replaced, and on 7th April, 1976 a successful Musical Evening was held in the church hall, the proceeds of which were devoted to an Organ Fund. The family of the late Mr. and Mrs. D. C. Fullerton generously offered to present an organ, to be chosen by the leaders, in memory of their parents. This gift was greatly appreciated. At a special service held during the afternoon of 31st October, 1976, a new electronic organ was dedicated. The service was conducted by Rev. J. Lennox Booth, assisted by Rev. John A. T. Fee. Mrs. Betty Leonard was the soloist, and the guest organist was Mr. Ivor C. Burns. After the service the large congregation were served afternoon tea in the hall by the ladies.

During November 1976 a party of American Methodists from the Lay Witness Movement visited Northern Ireland, and took part in services in a number of churches. A Sunday morning service at Priesthill was conducted by a Lay Witness team comprising American and Irish Methodists, and the power of the Holy Spirit came down, causing some to commit their lives to Jesus Christ, and others to renew their dedication.

Mr. Bob Wheatley was one of the team. In the summer of 1977 he returned to Priesthill for a week's visit, accompanied by his wife. A series of house meetings was arranged to take place on different parts of the circuit, the speakers being our visitors. Music was supplied by members of the churches. The services were well attended and were a means of blessing.

It was decided that the former manse, adjoining the church, should be reduced to ground floor level and a new vestry with kitchen and toilet accommodation be provided. The work was completed during 1977, and the enlarged vestry was dedicated at the Harvest Thanksgiving Service. The minutes of a leaders' meeting held on 30th August, 1977 record

"we at Priesthill were always in the debt of Mr. S. V. W. McCready for his professional work in connection with new buildings and renovation, and not only us, but Methodism in general."

On the morning of 5th May, 1978, Miss Edith Stewart passed away. At her funeral service held in Zion the hymns, "We love the place, 0 God, wherein Thine honour dwells", and "Sweet is the work, my God, my King" were sung, thus signifying that her life had been spent in worship and service. Two beautiful stained-glass windows have been installed in the church to her memory. They were dedicated at the Harvest Sunday morning service in 1979. Miss Stewart loved to teach children about God, through song and in the Sunday School or children's meetings. An inscription on one of the windows reads:

"From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus."

We would like to include a tribute to Miss Eva Buchanan who passed away in January 1979. Miss Buchanan was a sincere Christian and a most faithful attender at her beloved Zion. Her parents had served as chapel keepers from 1902-17, and as a little girl she had helped by cleaning the lamps. During her last weeks with us she longed to go to her heavenly home. On her last Sunday morning on earth she was visited by Rev. J. Lennox Booth, her minister, prior to the church service. Shortly after he left, when the service would be commencing, she entered the heavenly Zion to sing with the redeemed.

It was decided to install a modern central heating system in the church, and tubular electrical heating was available in March 1979.

During Holy Week, 1981, Rev. Dr. Denis Cooke and a team of students from Edgehill Theological College conducted a mission at the church, which was beneficial to all those who attended.

Sunday evening, 24th July, 1983, was a very special occasion at Priesthill. Miss Anne McCready had heard God's call to missionary work overseas and had responded by offering her services as a teacher at a girls' school in India. That evening a Commissioning Service was held prior to her departure. The church was filled to overflowing with members and friends, including about fourteen ministers. Anne sends regular bulletins to all her friends in Ireland, and she seems to enjoy being fully involved in the work.

A new hymn book for use in Methodist churches was published in 1983, and the leaders at Priesthill decided to purchase a supply for use in the services. A dedicatory service took place on Sunday morning, 18th November, 1984. Rev. Charles Eyre, secretary of the Irish Methodist Conference, who had been a member of the committee responsible for the compilation of the new hymn book, Hymns and Psalms, was invited to introduce it to the congregation, and also to offer the dedicatory prayer .

 The church has been fortunate in acquiring beautiful light fittings from Osborne Park Methodist Church, Belfast. These were no longer required and were bought for a modest sum in November 1984. After being cleaned and lacquered, they were installed in March 1985. It is interesting to note that just one hundred years earlier the brass lamps presented by Mrs. Irwin of Lisadian had been introduced, which possibly superseded the candles.

The Methodist Youth Evangelism Team conducted a special mission at the church during March 1985, and it was marked by a number of young people coming to faith in Christ.

For the first time during the history of Priesthill a lady, in the person of Dr. Helen Fullerton, has been appointed as one of the society stewards for the new year beginning January 1986.

As our bi-centenary celebrations draw nearer we eagerly anticipate all the activities which have been planned . . . and what shall we more say? Only that God's Holy Spirit, harnessing the earnestness and enthusiasm of devoted and loyal people, has done many great things. The story continues, and will never end.

Church Furnishings dedicated 31st August 1958.  
Church Furnishings dedicated 31st August 1958.