story of the congregation.
by S.E. Adair.
PREFACE BY THE
Rev. PROF, J M. BARKLEY, D.D.
Congregational histories provide a mine of information about the customs, traditions and living conditions of the past. Templepatrick Congregation is extremely fortunate in that its records are complete, going back to the year 1646. In addition earlier information about the district and community is well substantiated.
I am glad that the Rev. S. E. Adair, M.A., B.D., has seen fit to prepare a short History of the Templepatrick community during three and a half centuries, because we cannot appreciate the present and its blessings without a knowledge of the past. I commend his work to all members of the Congregation, and indeed to those outside it, for its accuracy and its interesting approach.
JOHN M. BARKLEY
Secretary of Faculty,
The Presbyterian College,
Templepatrick Manse, before Re-building circa. 1900 Rev. Hamilton and family outside.
Why Presbyterians came to Templepatrick in 1619.
Exactly three hundred and fifty years ago the first Presbyterian families settled in the village of Templepatrick. The report of the Plantation Commissioners in 1611 records that an officer of Elizabeth I’s army in Ireland and one of five famous brothers, a certain Sir Humphrey Norton, had been given permission to rebuild "a fair castle two stories high with two great flankers or towers" at Templepatrick. In October, 1619, Sir Humphrey was granted full possession of the Castle and "the villages and lands belonging thereto," and to that domain he brought many tenant farmers from Scotland and the West Country of England.
Why did these folk come so far to begin a new life in Templepatrick? The reason is simple: they came at the invitation of James I of England. Over many years the English Crown had found great difficulty in ruling Ireland and matters had come to a head in the reign of Elizabeth I and at the accession of James I. But in 1607 the natural leaders of the Province of Ulster, the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell, who had been foremost in the struggles of the Irish people against the Crown, forsook their lands and sailed quietly into a Spanish exile. The flight of the earls was a golden opportunity for King James. According to English law their lands had become forfeit to the Crown and the King decided to grant the land to people who would be loyal to himself and maintain the peace of the kingdom.
His plan became known as the Plantation of Ulster and its purpose straightforward, to colonise Ulster with men from his two kingdoms of Scotland and England. The Plantation Commissioners divided the land into lots of 2,000, 1,500 and 1,000 acre estates. On each holding the owner had to build a fortified enclosure and house for the protection and security of his tenants. These were called "bawns" and two excellent examples not far from Templepatrick are Ballygally Castle and Dalway's Bawn near Carrickfergus.
Templepatrick, because of its previous history as a Crusader's settlement, offered itself as a highly desirable area, easily defended. But it was not a Garden of Eden. Ulster had suffered because of strife and rebellion, and towns, villages, and farmsteads had to be repaired and rebuilt. Templepatrick was no exception to the rest of the Province and its condition was described in the Ulster Visitation in 1622 as "ruinous."
The new-comers were very hard-working and soon the village began to grow from Kilmakee at one end to Ballymartin at the other. Indeed at that time Ballymartin was a sizeable village in its own right and occasionally burned timber has been ploughed up as evidence of its existence before its destruction, along with Templepatrick, in the 1798 Rising.
The Castle was the natural centre of the community and in good times the landlord could give employment, and in difficult times could protect his tenants. The farmer tenants came to the village to pay their rents at the Castle and they could hire their labourers and buy and sell at Templepatrick Fair. Had the village escaped destruction, it is a fair conjecture that today after the Industrial Revolution it might have grown to a town comparable to Ballyclare.
The homes of these new settlers were usually built in the "half-timbered" style of England or were more simply one storied dwellings of stone and thatch reminiscent of Scotland. The interior of their homes presented a plain and homely appearance. The stone or earthen floor would be covered in fine straw which was daily swept out with a broom. Furnishings were hand-carved such as stools, chairs and table and often in a corner there was a dresser on which were hung the pewter cups and plates for family meals. In many houses there would have been spinning-wheels and hand-looms, for the making of clothing was the skilled occupation of the women of the household.
Family cooking was done over the open fire in the hearth. An English traveller in Antrim at this time, a certain Sir William Brereton tells about the food which was eaten and the cost of living. "Here as in Scotland," says Sir William, "the people eat cakes called 'kets' which they bake on iron plates over the fire and they do not spare to cover them thickly in butter or cheese which is only one penny a pound." The account of this traveller about prices is hardly credible to modern ears. A full board at an inn cost 6d per day; a barrel of 100 herrings was 3d and beef or mutton cost Id per pound.
Except for special occupations like the miller or the blacksmith, nearly all the Plantation folk were engaged in farming. It was mixed, with the chief crops being oats and potatoes. An early sign of their quick business sense was the way in which they saw that Irish cattle were too small and scarce for profit, and consequently they introduced a sturdier breed from England.
These people had come to stay, and in every way possible showed that they were in earnest in making a new life in Ulster. But, as we shall see, it was an intention which was to cost them heavily in the years ahead.
The Worship of the Presbyterians and their First Minister
The Christian religion was the foundation of the life and morality of the Presbyterian Plantation farmers. They had accepted the renewal of the Church at the Reformation and their Church government and worship reflected the insights of the Reformers. They realised full well the truth of their Saviour that men cannot live by bread alone and for them Christianity was the comfort and strength of their living.
It was therefore natural that the settlers should bring with them the faith and traditions in which they had been reared. The result was that in Ulster there were three streams of religious belief: the native Irish who remained faithful to the Church of Rome, the Scottish Presbyterians who remained faithful to their National Church of Scotland and the English, who were either Independents or Episcopalians, in conjunction with the Church of England.
Because Ireland had become a state under the English Crown, the authorities established a State Church of Ireland modelled along the lines of its English Sister Church. But with this difference; never did it minister to the majority of the people as it did in England. Although Roman Catholics and Presbyterians paid for the upkeep of the State Church and its clergy, usually a tenth of their earnings, they maintained a separate witness to their own historic traditions from Rome and Scotland.
Yet at the time of the Plantation, relationships were excellent amongst the Protestant settlers. The State Church accepted the services of Scottish Presbyterian clergy and some like Knox of Raphoe and Echlin of Down were to become bishops without denying the Reformed doctrine. The Irish Articles of 1615 of the Episcopalians were close to the Westminster Confession of the Presbyterians. The University of Dublin was open to all Protestants and indeed a Presbyterian, Walter Travers, had been Provost of Trinity near the end of Elizabeth's reign. In this happy situation Templepatrick had its own part to play, for it was a parish of the State Church with the majority of its congregation Presbyterians by tradition. Like many such congregations it was not surprising that it should seek a minister amongst the Scottish clergy.
In the “common-place book of an old inhabitant of Templepatrick1” dated 1755 this record of how the first Presbyterian minister came to the church is written. It appears that a grandson of the Reformer John Knox, a Mr. Josias Welch had come to Ulster as a tutor. He had been educated in the universities of Glasgow and Geneva and for a time had been a university don.
About 1625 he had been ordained a Presbyter after the manner of the Church of Scotland by a relative, Bishop Knox of Raphoe. He permitted Welch, as with other Presbyterian ordinands, to omit any part of the Ordination Service "at which he scrupled." There was a tradition that Mr. Welch ministered for some months at Killead, but it was in Templepatrick that most of his life's work was to be done. The "Common-place Book" describes his induction into the church. He had evidently pleased two important families, the Shaws of Donegore and the Nortons, and Captain Norton determined to have him as minister of Templepatrick. The patronage of the parish had passed to the Castle land-lord, and "Captain Norton came to the church with Mr. Welch at his back . . . ordered the curate to come down from the pulpit, who came down with reluctancy: Captain Norton ordered Mr. Welch to go up ... and continued him on the work of the ministry."
How did Presbyterians worship in those days? Certainly the Service was longer, as Robert Blair of Bangor related, "the sermon exhausted the hour-glass in the little church at Templepatrick." Organs were too expensive for most churches and a precentor who stood under the pulpit was the person who "raised the singing" and gave the lead to the congregation. Following the teaching of the Reformers, worship was conducted in the language of the people and their praise taken from the ancient hymnary of the Jewish Church, the Book of Psalms. However, because all could not read and books were precious, the Psalms were put into the rhymed metres of the Metrical Psalter so that they could be more easily taught and learned. A feature of worship was that the congregation remained seated for singing and stood for prayer. This practice is still followed in the Presbyterian Church in Holland and Alsace. Perhaps because of the length of prayers the old and infirm stayed near the walls for support, the possible origin of the phrase, "the weakest to the wall"? The custom of standing at prayer may be due to a fear of possible idolatry which the Reformers feared in the Medieval Church. Or it may have been due to the usage at the King's Court. Before God, as before the King it was disrespectful to remain seated while speaking. Preaching the Word was important; for the Reformation had given the people access to the Scriptures in their own tongue and it was important that the whole counsel of God should be set before them and that they should be correctly instructed in the doctrines of the Faith.
The Two Sacraments of the Gospel, instituted by Christ, were observed. Baptism which was the admission of children into the Church was done before the whole congregation as a sign of the Church being the family of God. The practice of Baptising in the home was restricted to situations of special difficulty like illness.
The Communion season was a great occasion for the people and was observed over several days. Fast days were the days prior to Sunday when people abstained from work and came in from the fields to prepare themselves for the Sacrament; this is the origin of our Thursday Pre-Communion Service, and Monday was kept as a Thanksgiving Day for the joy and privilege of Communion. Communion tables covered in linen were placed in the aisles to which the people came forward singing the Communion Psalm, "I'll of salvation take the cup." Tokens in lead were presented by each communicant so that a record could be kept of those who were faithfully following Christ's command. Then minister and elders served bread and wine as the symbols of the Saviours body and blood. In Mr. Welch's ministry it is recorded that his preaching "had a rousing and wakening" effect—he was the "cock of conscience" says Blair and over 1,500 communicants came forward to take Communion. It must have been an inspiring testimony to the earnestness of the Presbyterians in the Six-mile Water valley to see the little church sitting in the old-burying ground at the castle thronged with so many at worship.
However, the happy relationships within the State Church of Ireland were to end. The growing tension between Scotland and England had its effect even in Templepatrick. For in 1634 the new Lord Deputy, Sir Thomas Wentworth, under the guidance of Archbishop Laud of Canterbury, determined to impose a uniformity of worship and practice according to the doctrine of the English Thirty-Nine Articles. In May of that year Welch and other Scottish clergy, were deposed from their ministries. He did continue ministering to his huge flock in the open air but in June his health gave out and he died of a fever.
His grave is beside the Mausoleum of the Templeton family and according to a local historian, Dr. Stevenson, the original stone had a Latin inscription which summarised aptly his life and work.
'Here lies interred under this stone, Great Knox's grand-child and Welch's son;
Born in Scotland brought up in France, He came to Ireland the Gospel to advance.'
It would be sufficient to say that if Sir Humphrey Norton was the founder of Templepatrick as a Plantation parish in 1619, it was the Rev. Josias Welch who built the people up in their most holy faith. He laid the foundations of Presbyterian doctrine and practice upon which his successor was to build after the removal of Presbyterians from the State Church of Ireland.
The Second Minister, Rev. Anthony Kennedy and his Kirk Session
Over ten years were to pass before Templepatrick found a successor to Mr. Welch. Presbyterianism had to lie dormant because of the policy of the State Church towards Scottish clergy and then in 1641 the dreadful rebellion of the native Irish almost obliterated Protestantism from Ulster. During this time Templepatrick and its village church were destroyed. Anxious about the fate of their kinsmen and co-religionists, an army from Scotland landed in the following year at Carrickfergus. A local story of this time expresses the terrible animosity which was felt towards the Plantation settlers. A Miss Upton of the Castle had married a local Irish landlord named Dunn from Dundrod. In the rebellion Dunn tried to convert his wife from her Protestant faith. Failing to do so, the husband then put her and their children into an upstairs room in the castle and burned them to death. To this day it is said that her spirit walks the castle in a lonely place and the icy coldness of her passing can be experienced still. Dunn was later caught by the Uptons and executed at Dundrod.
However the troubles of this period meant for Presbyterians that they had to organise themselves and in 1642 the chaplains and elders of the Scottish regiments formed the first Presbytery in Ireland at Carrickfergus. The Presbytery consisting of ministers and elders had to shepherd the distressed Ulster folk and they were ministered to until such a time as each congregation could have a settled ministry.
In 1646 the Session minute book of Templepatrick records that the Rev. Anthony Kennedy was admitted to the congregation Four ministers took part, Rev. Archibald Ferguson, of Antrim, Moderator; Rev. Patrick Adair, of Cairncastle, and a noted historian of the Church; Rev. David Boswell, of Ballymena; and Rev. Robert Cunningham of Ballycarry. Among licentiates who were at the service was an interesting inhabitant of Templepatrick, Rev. Jeremiah O'Quinn. A native Irish speaker and a Master of Arts, he had been born a Roman Catholic but by this date had become a Presbyterian and later was to have a distinguished career as minister of Billy.
The names of the Session are interesting for they are names familiar to the Six-mile Water until modern times. Names of the Session: Major Edmond Ellis, Lieutenant James Lindsay, William Hall, Adam McNeily, John Petticrew, James Windrume, Hugh Kennedy, John Inglis, William Wallace, Alexander Coruth, Gilbert McNielie, Thomas Logan, Thomas Taggart, Alexander Pringle, and with their names is a short list of four Deacons or members of committee: Hugh Sloane, William McCord, Guian Herbison, Gilbert Bellihill.
The Session then, as today, had the duty of assisting the minister in the pastoral oversight of the church. But in a day with no police in the community, the Session also had the duty of being the guardians of public and private morality. If anyone committed an offence they had to stand before the congregation and admit their repentance. The session book states: "That all persons standing in a public place of repentance shall pay the church officer one groat" and a typical entry is one which tells of the strict reverence which the people had for the Lord's Day: "it is enacted that if parents let their children wander or play on the Lord's day, that they shall be censured as profaners of the Sabbath."
It must not be supposed however, that the Session and Deacons were simply censorious. On the contrary, they helped widows and orphans, paid a schoolmaster to bring on promising children, buried at their own expense any who died alone and poor, and generally tried to fulfil the love of Christ as best they could in the circumstances of three centuries ago.
The Rev. Anthony Kennedy's ministry was to last from 1646 until 1697. He re-built the church which had a bell, was ceiled inside, enlarged with a gallery and had pews allocated to each family who rented them. Often Mr. Kennedy conducted week day services and travelled on horseback to outlying areas even going beyond the River Bann. As in Mr. Welch's ministry he had crowded communions at which it is recorded, "one bushel of flour and forty bottles of claret were consumed."
This second ministry had of course to contend with changing crises in Ireland. The Presbyterians remained loyal to the King's person though their democratic and liberal sentiments were with the Parliamentarians in their dispute with Charles I as to who should rule England. For this loyalty they earned the dislike of Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans. Milton describes Presbyterian Ulster as a "barbarous nook" and had scant respect for the "blockish presbyters of Clandeboye," that is those Presbyterian ministers who refused to support the republican regime of the Puritans. Unfortunately in the Restoration of Charles II to the throne, the loyalty of the Presbyterians was forgotten and in 1660 Kennedy was ejected from his pulpit by Bishop Jeremy Taylor of Down and he had to take to the fields and glens to continue his ministry. It was not until the reign of William of Orange that Mr. Kennedy was able to enjoy a settled pastorate with a generous stipend being paid by a grateful King, the "Royal Gift" as it was termed. This was about £100 per annum a truly magnificent income in those days and when he died an old man of 83 years Anthony Kennedy could survey a life-time of devoted loyalty to his flock and at the end see their prosperity greater than they had ever known. He was buried in 1697 beside his predecessor in the Burying-ground at Templepatrick.
The years of peace and progress until the Rising of 1798
On the eve of a new century in August, 1699, the Congregation saw its third minister installed. He was the Rev. James Kirkpatrick whose ministry was to be quiet and uneventful. A son of the manse, his father, Rev. Hugh Kirkpatrick was minister of Ballymoney. By nature Mr. Kirkpatrick appears to have been a man of some scholarship and he was to attain a distinction which few achieve, in becoming a doctor of medicine and a doctor of divinity in the University of Glasgow. He was the first minister of Templepatrick to become an author and published several sermons on the deaths of William III and the local landlord, one of his esteemed elders, Arthur Upton of the Castle. His main literary work was "The Loyalty of Presbyterians" in which he vindicated the traditional position of the Presbyterian Church in maintaining loyalty to the Crown without having it interfere with the life of the Church. He was called to First Belfast in 1706 and it was with great reluctance that Templepatrick Congregation let him go.
Templepatrick had some difficulty in calling a successor. It appears that at that time Ballylinney was part of the parish area and the people there had not paid their contribution to the stipend. Now according to the law of the Church a new minister could not be called until all debts were discharged to the outgoing pastor. At length Mr. Kirkpatrick generously forgave the debt "out of affection to that people," to quote his own reason, and the way was clear for another ministry.
The next minister was to have a long ministry, he was the Rev. William Livingstone and he worked in Templepatrick from 1709-1758. His installation marked a change in the life of the church for it was transferred from the Belfast Presbytery to the Antrim Presbytery at the express desire of the Session. In its petition for the change, the Session complained that there were "many crazy members" in Belfast Presbytery, and it was therefore difficult to obtain supplies during the vacancy. It should be added that by "crazy" the Session meant the usual understanding of the word then which was "old and infirm."
During Mr. Livingstone's half-century there were two important events. The first was the beginning of the non-subscription controversy. It is one of the historic characteristics of Presbyterians that against opposition they can make a united and courageous stand, but when they get into more peaceful times, their inherent love for theological controversy makes division among them.
The essential dispute in the non-subscription controversy was whether the Church should have its authoritative interpretation of the teaching of Scripture or not. The action of the State Church of Ireland in imposing uniformity had left a distaste amongst Presbyterians for compulsion in matters of belief. This had grown in the more tolerant atmosphere of the 18th century and a substantial party in the Church were non-subscribers by conviction. It was not until the next century that when such a fundamental doctrine as the Trinity was called into question that there was the regrettable break within the Church.
Mr. Livingstone was an ardent upholder of Church authority and an advocate of subscription to the articles of the Westminster Confession of Faith. His orthodoxy commended itself to the Church at large and in 1727 he was elected Moderator of the Synod of Ulster at its meeting in Dungannon.
Strangely enough, the second event in his ministry seems to have contradicted his orthodox belief. This was the erection of Lylehill congregation in 1746. Ostensibly it arose over a farm lease which went to a son of Mr. Livingstone, but, in fact, there were a number of families who wanted an even stricter minister and they called in the Seceding Synod of Scotland and Mr. Isaac Patton became their first minister.
Nonetheless the pastorate of Mr. Livingstone was a happy one for Templepatrick and at a time when many Presbyterians were emigrating to America for social and economic reasons the congregation steadily increased in numbers.
After Mr. Livingstone's retirement in 1755 he continued for three years as the senior minister and helped his successor into office. This was the Rev. Robert White, a schoolmaster in earlier days and a native of Larne. His kindly influence was noted in the Presbytery Visitation of 1759 when Templepatrick was described as "a very discreet, sober, well-behaved and affectionate people." Classon Porter makes a wry comment about his call to Templepatrick. It appears he had at the same time a call from Islandmagee and the General Synod gave him a month to decide. Islandmagee offered him "a stipend of £40 and ten bolls of oats." Templepatrick's offer is not known, but, says Porter, "ministers and other sensible persons usually close with the larger offer."
Mr. White carried on his gift for teaching and he tutored two famous pupils, David Manson, the education reformer, and the Rev. Steel Dickson. In addition to this he had a considerable knowledge of medicine and, like a later minister of the district in the 19th century, Henry Cooke, he would treat his flock in illness as well. Two years after Mr. White's death, the congregation called a local man, the son of an elder in Templepatrick, the Rev. John Abernethy, in 1774. He was to have a short stay and during that time he showed an aptitude for practical affairs. It was during his time that the present building in the grounds of Castle Upton was erected with the help of the first Lord Templeton. His sympathies with the United Irishmen and the liberal tendencies amongst men like Henry Joy McCracken, led to his resignation at the request of Lord Templeton in 1796. In 1820, Thomas Moat, the weaver poet of Ballyclare, wrote a poem in his memory which caught the spirit of the man.
"For few were found so very pithy
As was old learned Abernethy."
The climax of the century came in the Rising of 1798. The vast majority of Presbyterians were farmers and had been oppressed by the heavy rents of landlords. In addition, like Roman Catholics, they were unable to hold responsible offices in Ireland because they were not members of the State Church of Ireland. A movement was started to win independence for Ireland following the example of the American colonies. It was to usher in a new age of tolerance, based on the concepts which had initiated the French Revolution. The movement took the name of "United Irishmen" and Templepatrick was a stronghold of the society. Brass cannon were hidden under the floor of the church and taken out at the battle of Antrim when the Rising began. It was a failure and as a consequence Templepatrick was again burned down. An amusing incident occurred when the English "Redcoats" came looking for a local leader, James Hope, a weaver. They offered a reward for his capture and the story goes that James Hope joined the crowd in the hunt, took his meals from the soldiers for the day's search and then, winking at the crowd, slipped off to Crumlin for safety. It was during this exciting period that the Rev. Robert Campbell came to the congregation in 1796. His liberal outlook extended to theology and for the first 30 years of the next century he openly supported Dr. Henry Montgomery against Dr. Henry Cooke. But a strong reaction had set in among Presbyterians and more and more they realised that in a united Ireland they would be a minority and perhaps a persecuted one at that. This fear began to harden attitudes and in the Church, Henry Cooke espoused the cause of subscription as a means to strengthen the coming generation in their orthodoxy. The more liberal and non-subscribing advocate of his opposition in the Synod of Ulster, was Henry Montgomery. It was a battle for the soul of the Church and Henry Cooke won the day. Subscription to the Westminster Confession was enforced and the followers of Montgomery left the Synod.
In 1829, Templepatrick, as on other occasions, reflected the temper of the times. When the unhappy break came in the Synod the congregation split also. Although the orthodox party were in the majority, the Rev. Robert Campbell and the remaining non-subscribers were able to retain the church and its endowments. In 1831 the "Trinitarian and orthodox congregation of Templepatrick" made out a call to a new minister, the Rev. John Carson.
For some years their worship was held at Kirk Hill, the residence of Mr. Carson and then in 1836 Lord Templeton made them the gift of a church in the village. The Rev. Dr. Henry Cooke, Moderator of the Synod of Ulster, dedicated the building on Thursday, 22nd June, and the following Communion Sunday over 200 sat down at the Table.
Their occupation of that church was not to be a lone one, as we shall see in the final chapters.
How the Church came to Kilgreel and its recent ministries
Mr. Carson's ministry was progressing uneventfully until, in the year 1845, he records in the Minute Book of the Session, these moving words: "On the last Sabbath in June the Lord's Supper was held in the open air ... and not withstanding the constant rain, the people attended with great reverence. A strange sight in Presbyterian Ulster to behold a congregation without a roof over their heads, the doors of their meeting-house being closed against them ... At this Communion an old man of 91 years was drawn in a cart for six miles, his locks dripping with rain as he came and took the sacramental bread and wine in his hands to testify his adherence to his Saviour and His Church."
Those who know the true reason for Lord Templeton closing the Presbyterians out of their church are now long since dead. No written documents are in the possession of present Session, but suffice it to say that, despite several deputations, even to London, he would not alter his decision. The most probable explanation is that the tenant farmers were not in favour of his political outlook at that time and refused to comply with his wishes at the elections. It is only fair to say that his heir made an offer to return the church, but by then it was too late. The church subsequently was used by the Episcopalian rector and eventually became the village school.
Thanks to the kindness of Sir Robert Pakenham, the first plot of land outside the Templeton estate at Kilgreel came to the congregation. David Speirs of Carnanee; Samuel Bill of Bally-martin; Ezekiel Wiley of Ballycushan, Archibald McComb of Carmavey; and William Cowan of Kilgreel, became the first trustees. Donations poured in from Cork, Dublin, Londonderry and Belfast to the congregation, and within the year they were able to open their church and manse at Kilgreel. It was not a day too soon, for the Famine occurred in the following spring and there just would not have been the same generosity.
In fact, each year of Mr. Carson's ministry saw a drop in numbers as families left Ulster for good. In 1859 he passed away, tired and worn out.
An outstanding ministry then began, with the Rev. Hugh McCurdy Hamilton, which was to last until 1907. A man of gentle spirit, one of his contemporaries quotes Goldsmith's lines to describe him, "a man he was to all the country dear."
After the stormy years up to the Famine in Ireland, Mr. Hamilton was to inaugurate a period of calm. He travelled about the parish on foot or in his pony and trap. His portrait is still kept in several homes and older people can remember his visits when he would come to instruct the children in the Shorter Catechism. They were gathered in from play or work and the family would worship together with him. His ministry was the last to reflect the more traditional ministry of the Church. In his day there were not the varied activities which kept the church buildings open in the course of the week. The church was used only for Sabbath worship or for very special occasions. The joys and sorrows of the congregation were largely experienced in their own homes. Sickness was nursed there, children were born at home, and death was no stranger to their hearths. The modern use of hospitals had not yet begun to take hold. It was during Mr. Hamilton's early years that the National School, Templepatrick No 1 School, as it was called, was erected beside the church. On the whole, his ministry saw a rising prosperity amongst the congregation.
The British Government, under Mr. Gladstone, passed a number of Land Acts which enabled tenant farmers to buy their own land and brought to an end the absentee landlords who took little responsibility for their rented holdings. As well, in 1870, the State Church of Ireland was disestablished, which meant that neither Presbyterians nor Roman Catholics were any longer obliged to pay tithes for its maintenance. In Templepatrick, about this decade, employment was diversified with the coining of the limestone workings and at Roughfort and Dunadry, the linen industry brought new mills.
The terrible Famine had impoverished many families and it was characteristic of Mr. Hamilton that, in his will, his last thoughts should be for his congregation. In 1907 he left £500, or the equivalent in our modern values about £7,000, for the general income of the congregation. He did not forget his successors; he purchased and left for them a five-acre manse farm for the use of the minister of Templepatrick.
The Rev. Luke McQuitty came in 1907. Educated at Ballymena Academy and Queen's University, he had been licentiate-assistant at St. John's Church, Newtownbreda. The congregation rebuilt the manse in 1908 under the supervision of a local builder, Mr. Laird of Ballyclare. It had formerly been a single-storied house and Mr. Laird reconstructed it as it is today in the Georgian style of architecture.
One of the interesting highlights of the congregation's life was the famous three-day Bazaar which took place frequently. The congregation would plan for the whole year what would be done at the Bazaar. The ladies would sew and embroider; the men-folk arrange the entertainment, like the bicycle races on the great penny-farthing cycles. Trams were specially run out to the Cavehill and crowds would walk from there to Kilgreel for the Bazaar. In April, 1915, Mr. McQuitty received a call to Castle Douglas and he resigned his charge at Templepatrick. The present pulpit Bible was given by him as a token of his high regard for the church.
He was followed by the Rev. John Mcllwrath, a graduate of Queen's University. He was not to remain very long. In 1917 he volunteered to join the Forces in France as an Army chaplain. When the war was over, he decided to serve the Church of Scotland and gave outstanding service as a parish minister on the east coast.
While he was on active duty, his place had been taken by a temporary assistant, the Rev. Samuel Blair. A native of Cullybackey, he was subsequently ordained to the oversight of the congregation in 1919, after Mr. Mcllwrath had decided not to return.
Mr. Blair was a person of many practical gifts. He was responsible for the electrification of the manse and the church. A keen sportsman, he was captain of Antrim Golf Club, he urged the building of the present tennis court for the use of the young people. During the first years of his ministry he saw the need for a modern pipe organ and with the committee he went round the congregation, who gave £500 towards its purchase. In 1936 there was a plan drawn up to build a church hall for the growing needs of the people; but, unfortunately, the war intervened and it was never realised. Concerned about the plight of the evacuees from the Belfast air raids, Mr. Blair strained his health and suddenly, in 1941, he died at the manse.
His successor, who came from Greenisland, was the Rev. Samuel Duff. He had decided, as a mature candidate, to study for the ministry. Despite being in his thirties, he undertook to do the full university and theological course of six years. With commendable work, he graduated in Arts and, had it not been for poor health in later years, would have crowned his studies with a higher degree from London University. Mr. Duff was a gifted preacher, whose humour and language were vivid and memorable. Having been assistant minister in Macrory Memorial Church, Belfast and High Kirk, Ballymena, he came with an eloquence which marked him out as a fine orator in the Presbytery and elsewhere. During his time in Templepatrick he had the pleasure of seeing the two companies of the Girls' and Boys' Brigade being formed. In addition, it was near the end of his pastorate that the old stables were demolished and the modern rooms and kitchen added. Ordained in 1941, he passed away after a period of illness in 1964, in the sixty-third year of his age. His ministry saw the congregation through the war and the post-war years and virtually brings our story up to the present day.
In May, 1969, the Rev. Stewart Adair was installed by the Presbytery of Templepatrick as the present minister of the congregation.
TEMPLEPATRICK CONGREGATION TODAY AND
Today the congregation has grown to over 250 families and in the words of a recent Visitation of Presbytery "is continuing to witness faithfully to the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
A congregation is like a family and has to try and meet the needs of many age groups and interests of its members. Today, just as in 1646, the Kirk Session overseas, with the minister, the spiritual growth of the people. Districts have been allocated to the Session and at May and November the tokens for Communion are given in to each home on the Elder's list. This has helped to bring the need for regular worship and communion before the congregation and for the first time in a century the number at the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper has reached almost 200.
The present members of Session are as follows: Thomas Bill (Clerk), James Hewitt, Samuel Scott, William Carmichael, Samuel Dundee, Ingram Bill, B.Sc., and Norman Thompson. At the moment of writing this chapter the Session lost a kindly and upright member in the death of Mr. Joseph Mawhinney.
The fabric and finances of the congregation are still the concern of the Committee or the Deacons as the first members were more Scripturally named. Today they are, William H. Adair, Austin Alien, John Anderson, Ian I.T. Beattie, Thomas Bill, B.Sc., William Dundee, James Mawhinney, James Morrison, Brian McCullough, M.P.S., Norman McKee, Andrew Thompson, John Wilson; and James Hewitt acts as secretary to the committee.
During the vacancy the committee did a thorough renovation of the manse and made it one of the most modern in Templepatrick Presbytery. It keeps a lively interest in ways in which the church property can be improved and kept efficient.
But the Church is really people. Today the Sunday School work for 180 children is done under the guidance of a willing group of teachers. In winter the work is done at the church with Mr. Hewitt as superintendent and at the Palantine School under Mrs. H. McWilliam. In summer from May to the Harvest an afternoon school is held in the village, in the hall kindly granted by the local Orange Lodge. This school, supervised by Mr. Ingram Bill, is open to all denominations who wish to come and he is assisted by Miss Patterson and Mr. Seymour, Principal of Templepatrick No. 2 Primary School.
This work is basic if parents are to honour their promises made at Baptism. It is sad sometimes to see parents who would never starve their children of food, being quite indifferent about the spiritual growth of their children.
In addition to Sunday School there is now the Children's Church held during Morning Worship for some sixty children whose parents should accompany them to worship. For the family that learns to pray together can always stay together.
As the children grow, there are two thriving Companies for girls and boys. First Templepatrick Boys' Brigade Company now stands at over 50 members under the captaincy of Mr. David McCullough, its work being divided amongst Senior, Junior and Robins sections. This past year it had the honour of seeing one of its members, Mr. Kenneth Graham, being awarded the Queen's Badge Award. A comparable number of girls are members of the 149th Girls' Brigade Company (N.I.) and are under the leadership of Mrs. Olga Ross. Her interest in the Brigade has recently led to her appointment as secretary for Loughabbey District.
Along with the uniformed organisations many young people have joined the Youth Association, and the Presbytery Youth Movement. The Youth Movement links all the congregations in a common purpose, to challenge our rising generation with the needs of Christian service. At present Templepatrick has a large number of young folk in the Movement, not least being Mr. Andrew Orme the choirmaster of the Youth Choir.
Missionary needs and interests are met in the work of the Women’s' Missionary Association under the president, Mrs. Hilary Adair and aided by their efficient secretary Mrs. Norman McKee. This Anniversary Year the W.M.A. had the joy of seeing the Presbytery commission Miss Marie Morrison as a medical missionary to Malawi. Marie had grown up in Templepatrick and had been a member of their branch.
Recreation still plays an important part in promoting friendship. In addition to the Tennis Club, there is now a mixed Bowling Club captained by Mr. Ian Beattie. Friendships have been cemented with other congregations as well as within the club itself.
But at the end of the day the most important element in the congregation must be worship. Just as in Patrick's day, just as at the Plantation, modern men still need the mercy and grace of God to save them from self-centred lives which lead to sin. The Congregation has in addition to its regular Noon Service, an Evening Service at 7.00 on the first Sunday of each month.
Special occasions and events are added to the regular diet of worship. Occasions like Harvest Thanksgiving, Christmas, St. Patrick's Sunday, Good Friday, Easter Day with a Dawn Service at Donegore Hill. Special events like Remembrance Sunday or Services for Charities, find members of the B Special Constabulary, Orange and Masonic Orders at worship in the church. In all this, the congregation owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Robert Allen and the church choir. Loyalty and hard work have been characteristics of the choir during the secretaryship of Miss Elsie McKeen.
To worship God in the beauty of holiness has always been the counsel of the Psalmist. In recent years the simple beauty of the Sanctuary has been enhanced by the sensitive work of Mr. John Millar of Templepatrick. Memorial gifts like the tablet in Italian Marble, the blue carpet in memory of the late John and Mary Bill, the choir chairs given by the late Joseph and Mrs. Barrett, the Baptismal Font presented by Mrs. Margaret McCrum, the minister's Chair donated by Mrs. Henderson Smith, formerly of Castle Upton, have all added to the loveliness of God's House.
To keep that beauty means constant work and both the Church officer and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Johnston, have been outstanding in caring for the fabric of the church buildings. Flowers in their season have always adorned the Communion Table and reminded those at prayer that God is indeed the Creator of the ends of the earth. Mrs. John Bill of Cloughanduff has been a dedicated worker in this task and has been ably helped by Mrs. Gretta Davidson and Mrs. Grace Coleman. The influence of worship upon living is important. Today Templepatrick has one student going forward for the Ministry of the Church, Mr. Wilbert Lindsay, and is looking forward to his career in serving Christ and His Church.
Worship however must have its complement in practical issues. There is a constant need to keep informed about the work of the whole Church in Ireland and overseas. Our Agents for the "Presbyterian Herald" and the "Woman's Work" are Mrs. Hugh Beattie and Mrs. Hal Thompson respectively. Through them copies of each publication are distributed to members of the congregation. Even in a Welfare State, the Church has always had a deep concern for the widow and orphan. Mrs. Thomas Bill has quietly raised the givings of the congregation over many years to this worthy object. An untold story, behind the scenes, is the weekly work of the Treasurer and those who assist in collecting and recording the Freewill Weekly Offering. Without this faithful duty being well done the extension of the Church's life and witness would not be able to continue in the form and extent which we know in 1969.
And what of the future of Templepatrick congregation? Today we see a new Ulster growing up around us and nothing is surer than that a wholesome Christian influence will be needed in the future as much as in the past. The Presbyterian Church in Ireland, with its particular democratic traditions and respect for sound learning, has much to contribute in making our community a happy one for our children. In the congregation in Templepatrick, in order that we might give of our best to that vision.
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