Thursday 4 February 2016

Hamilton Road Presbyterian, Bangor 1897-1947

Hamilton Road Church, Bangor, was opened for public worship on the 10th September, 1899, and in September this year special services were held to celebrate the Jubilee. Among the special preachers was the Moderator of the General Assembly (The Rt. Rev. Dr. G. D. Erskine), who brought the congratulations and good wishes of the Church to the congregation.

The congregation was erected, by direction of the General Assembly, on 8th June, 1897. The first minister was Rev. Robert Montgomery, B.A., of Portrush (brother of Rev. Dr. Henry Montgomery, Belfast). Mr. Montgomery’s ministry was brief, as he had to resign in May, 1898, owing to ill-health.

It was during the ministry of the next minister, Rev. W. A. Hill, B.A. (who had, prior to his ordination, been assistant, for two years, to Rev. Dr. Charles Davey, in St. Enoch’s Church, Belfast), that the Church building was erected and opened for public worship. The Church has seating accommodation for over 1,000 people, and is built of Scrabo stone. A particular feature of the building is a large glazed dome in the roof, giving light through the ceiling panelling to the whole of the centre of the Church.

As a memorial to the members of the congregation who gave their lives, and to those who served in the Great War, a pipe organ was installed in 1922.

In May, 1928, Mr. Hill accepted a call to Wexford and Enniscorthy congregations, and in October of the same year, Rev. J. Millar Craig, B.A., formerly of First Letterkenny, Sandymount, (Dublin), St. George’s, Sunderland, and latterly of St. Ninian’s, Golder’s Green, London, was installed as minister.

Largely due to Mr. Craig’s inspiring leadership and untiring efforts, the Church Halls, consisting of a Large Hall and a Minor Hall, seating 450 and 150 people respectively, cloakrooms and a kitchen, were built in 1932 at a cost of £4,500.

Electrical heating and lighting were introduced into the Church in 1939 (the Church being the first in Ireland to be wholly heated by electricity).

In 1945, Rev. J. M. Craig retired from the active duties of the ministry, and his successor is Rev. E. M. Borland, B.A., the present minister, formerly minister of Downpatrick congregation.

The congregation has shown a steady increase in numbers and givings throughout the years. 57 families, in 1897, grew to 160 in 1910, and to 487 in 1947. The givings to Missions increased from £50 in 1897, to £567 in 1947.

The members of the congregation have always been interested in Evangelistic work, and in Foreign Missions, and this is evidenced by the generous givings to Missions and by the fact that thirty-four members of the congregation have been, or are, engaged in active full-time Christian service at home and abroad.

A Booklet, giving the full history of the congregation from 1897-1947, has been prepared and published by Rev. E. M. Borland.

An extract from the Presbyterian Herald, December 1949.

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