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Sunday service celebrates 250 years of Ballinderry Moravian Church

by Jenny Monroe

A view of the Ballinderry Moravian Church pulpit. US10-721SP A recent photograph of Lower Ballinderry Moravian Church. US10-720SP

AN Anniversary Service will be held on Sunday to celebrate 250 years of the Ballinderry Moravian Church congregation. The service will be attended by members of the church, local and foreign dignitaries as well as representatives from churches in the area.

During the service John McOwat, Bishop of the Moravian church in Great Britain and Ireland, will give the address and there will be greeting by Bishop Harpur from the church of Ireland to mark this special anniversary.

Other guests include the Czech ambassador and the Deputy Mayor of Lisburn Bill Gardiner Watson.

Reverend E. Buchholz the current Minister of the Ballinderry Moravian Church said: "We are hoping the anniversary service will be a religious gathering for the whole village. We as a church like to be of service to everyone in the local community and therefore everyone from the area is most welcome to the service."

Reverend E. Buchholz became Minister of the Ballinderry Church in November 2002. Originally from north Germany the Reverend now lives in Finaghy and also serves a second congregation at Cliftonville, north Belfast.

The Moravian Church was founded in the eighteenth century in what is now the Czech Republic. The Ballinderry congregation owes its origins to the Moravian evangelist John Cennick who arrived in Dublin in 1746 and had established a church in the city by 1749.

Some people from Ballinderry, while on a visit to Dublin, heard John Cennick preach and were so impressed they invited him to their village with the 'word of life.' He consented, and arrived in Ballinderry on the 16th October 1750.

In 1751 those who had been moved by John Cennick's preaching, expressed the wish that a Church should be built. A piece of land, the site of a cock-fighting pit, was rented, and the Church erected on it was opened for worship on Christmas Day 1751.

The Moravian Society of Ballinderry, which had around 150 members, was formed into a congregation along with Kilwarlin and Glenavy in 1755. Brother Syms was appointed Minister and in the same year the church leased an adjoining piece of land as a burial ground from a Mr. Benjamin Haddock.

The service to mark and recognise Ballinderry as an official congregation was conducted by Brother John de Water ille a Bishop who is still remembered annually for the introduction of the Christingle used by all Moravians and many other denominations today.

"Our church is very active not only in the local community but also participates in assisting with international projects especially in Central Europe, which has involved all sectors of the church with donations varying from clothes to Christmas parcels for orphans," added Violet Best, Treasurer of the Ballinderry Church.

"Assistance has been given to other denominations in the locality for projects. The church tries to keep alive the Moravian spirit of fellowship and mission awareness.

"We are all looking forward to the special service on Sunday. Not only will it mark the 250th anniversary of the congregation but it will also allow us to remember the late Bishop J H Cooper, Minister of the church from 1971 until 1990, who recently passed away.

"The service will take place at 3.30pm and refreshments will be served afterwards at Ballinderry Primary School."

Reverend E. Buchholz added: "We pray the church will continue as a place of worship for future generations. From its earliest days the Church has sought to work in harmony with other Christians. We hope to show the local community that our services are religious gatherings for the whole village and we aim to be of service to the whole community's needs."

An artist's impression of the Moravian Church c 1825. It was built in 1751 by John Cennick, altered and added to in 1821 and rebuilt in 1835 after it was destroyed by fire.

An artist's impression of the Moravian Church c 1825. It was built in 1751 by John Cennick, altered and added to in 1821 and rebuilt in 1835 after it was destroyed by fire.US10-719SP

Ulster Star