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WRITTEN ON THE OCCASION OF THE
Centenary of
Seymour Street Methodist Church 1975
Updated 2000

Author
Mr. George E. Orr

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 

CHAPTER 9

Seymour Street Church-Personalities

Lisburn Methodism has owed a great deal to the men who have served as its ministers and whose names are recorded in the Appendix. Each made his own individual contribution to the life of the church and it would be invidious and presumptuous to make any assessment of these contributions, just as it would be to single out the achievements or virtues of any particular minister. It is interesting to note that many of the ministers of Seymour Street were honoured by election to the highest office that our church can bestow-the Presidency of the Methodist Church in Ireland. Rev. Pierce Martin and Rev. Edward B. Cullen held this office during their terms as Superintendent Minister of the Lisburn Circuit, in 1916 and 1925 respectively. The following were also President: Rev. Oliver McCutcheon (1882), Rev. John O. Price (1915), Rev. William Corrigan (1924), Rev. John N. Spence(1941), Rev. Beresford S. Lyons (1942), Rev. Edward Whittaker (1945), Rev. Robert W. McVeigh (1960), and Rev. R. Desmond Morris (1974).

Equally, a great contribution has been made by the laymen of the Lisburn Circuit. Again it is dangerous to mention any names because many who made valued contributions to God's work are certain to be overlooked. However no history of Methodism in Lisburn would be complete without mention of some who have given outstanding service.

There can be no doubt that Seymour Street Methodist Church owes an immense debt of gratitude to men like Mr. John Stevenson, Mr. George Thompson and Mr. Edward Allen, who had the courage and foresight to take the initial steps which led to the building of Seymour Street Church, and who were untiring in their efforts, not only at the time of the building of the new church but in their work in various offices of the church afterwards. These men were ably supported by others in the first twenty-five years of the new church's history-men of the calibre of Mr. Joseph Connell, Mr. James Neill, Mr. Hugh McCahey and Mr. James Maze, who served as Class Leaders round about the turn of the century.

The grandfathers of two of our present leaders were products of the Methodist New Connexion.

Mr. William Morrison, grandfather of our present Senior Circuit Steward, Mr. W. B. Beckett, was a member of Salem Methodist New Connexion Church in Linenhall Street. At the Methodist New Connexion Quarterly Meeting of 5th August, 1889, "It was resolved that Brother
William Morrison's name be put on the plan as a Leader and a Local Preacher." In this office he continued, at first in the New Connexion and later in Seymour Street, until 1926 when he left the district.

Mr. Isaac Neill, the grandfather of Mr. J. Howard G. Stevenson, our present Trust Steward, made a wonderful contribution to Methodism, both at congregational and connexional level. Born in 1844 he was converted during the 1859 Revival and became a respected leader of the local Methodist New Connexion Church in 1880, when he was welcomed as a Leader and Local Preacher on his transfer from Bangor. He resigned from the Methodist New Connexion in 1894 and joined Seymour Street Methodist Church where he was immediately made an assistant Class Leader. For the next forty years-until his death in 1935-he wielded a gracious influence as a Local Preacher, being in demand all over the Belfast District. He was for a time President of the Local Preachers' Association. His eldest son, Rev. John E. Neill, entered the ministry and served for 25 years in India.

The Thompson family, children of Dr. Thompson of Castle Street, made a notable contribution to the life of the church at the end of the 19th Century and at the beginning of the 20th Century. A son, George W. Thompson, was accepted as a candidate for the Methodist Ministry in 1883. His sister, Dora, a saintly personality, was a Sunday School teacher and a most generous contributor to every good work.

Mention has already been made of Mr. Hugh McCahey. His two sons, Jack and Willie, were always willing to help around the church, particularly in using their mechanical skills in caring for church property. Two daughters, Sally and Cissie, were most generous in giving of their time and talents in all types of church activity, having a notably keen interest in work amongst children. They often trained the young people to perform at the various tea-meetings or soirees which appear to have been an important aspect of church life in the first half of the 20th Century. Miss Sally McCahey taught for many years in the William Foote Memorial School and recently the Leaders' Board, some of the members of which had been taught by her, decided to honour her memory by naming the room in which she used to teach, The Sally McCahey Room.
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The Gracey family of Mr. Thomas Gracey, his brother, Wesley, and his sisters were constantly prominent in their support of all church events and were generous in assisting various efforts. Their home, Magheralave House, now part of Thiepval Barracks, was "open house" for all Methodist ministers. Mr. Robert Walker, brother-in-law of Mr. Thomas Gracey and father of our present members, Howard and Bertie, gave faithful service as Sunday School Superintendent. Mr. John W. (Jack) Walker, whose death in 1974 was a great loss to the circuit and to the wider field of Irish Methodism, was a former Circuit Steward whose wisdom and wise counsel frequently found solutions for intransigent problems. Mr. Walker did not say very much but once he had spoken there was little further to be said. His grasp and understanding of financial matters and his sanctified commonsense were placed at the disposal of Methodism in a vast number of Connexional committees. At the time of his death he was Lay Treasurer of the Irish Methodist Ministers' Retirement Fund and had recently completed his term of office as Chairman of the Board of Governors of Methodist College, Belfast.

Some of the older members may remember Mr. and Mrs. Robert Griffith who were greatly dedicated to helping those who were under-privileged. Mr. Griffith founded and operated the "Welcome Mission" in Wardsborough Road. It has since been amalgamated with the Christian Workers' Union in Market Street. The Methodist Ministers and Local Preachers frequently assisted in conducting meetings in the Welcome Mission in its early days.

Mr. Joe Montgomery, who was employed as a manager in the Gracey factory at Hillhall, was a greatly beloved man who gave excellent service to Seymour Street in many different offices in the Church. He was Circuit Steward and served as Sunday School Superintendent. Following his retirement he returned to his native Ballinamallard where he died a few years ago.

One of the outstanding laymen of the past generation was Mr. Fred H. Menary, who was Circuit Steward, a Sunday School teacher and a most generous supporter of many of the funds of the Methodist church in Ireland. His sisters, too, joined enthusiastically in many church activities. Mr. Menary is remembered with particular gratitude in Seymour Hill church, which owes much to his outstandingly generous financial support.

The name of Mr. Edward Allen frequently occurred in the early days of Seymour Street. His son, Thompson, father of Mr. Charles M. Allen, carried on the family tradition by his labours in several offices of the church. He played a key role in the planning and oversight of the William Foote Memorial School and is also remembered for his work as Society Steward and Steward of the Poor, at a time when this Steward personally disbursed gifts to those who were in need.

One of the best known families in the church to-day, the Maze family, consists of the children and grand-children of Mr. Andrew Maze, Sen. Mr. Maze was converted during the Nicholson Mission of 1921. He became an active member of the Leaders' Board and was also responsible for initiating local Mission meetings in Derriaghy. His family are presently engaged in almost every aspect of the work of Seymour Street.

The name of David Buchanan is one which is familiar to every member of the congregation since the large hall in the William Foote Memorial School was named The David Buchanan Room in his memory and honour in 1968. Mr. Buchanan, who was also converted during the Nicholson Mission of 1921, served with distinction in almost every office of the church until his death-about 45 years in all.

Mr. William G. Greer, grandfather of one of our present leaders, Mr. Ben Greer, was an influential member of the church; he served for a period as Society Steward.

Mr. John Pickering was a well-known and highly respected Circuit Steward, at whose home the Methodist ministers were always welcome.

Another faithful servant of Seymour Street Church and of the Lisburn Circuit was Mr. Charlie Johnston of Bow Street, whose daughter, Maureen, married Rev. R. W. McVeigh. Mr. Johnston occupied with honour the positions of Society Steward and, later, of Circuit Steward. Like a former chronicler "the time would fail us" to speak of many others who have been faithful and who have "entered into their reward"-of Samuel J. Briggs of Hull's Hill Hall, of Joseph Gibson, Sunday School Superintendent and Steward of the Poor, of Mrs. Hazleton and her family, of Dunmurry, generous supporters of all good causes, of John Brown, faithful Boys' Brigade Captain, and of many families in the church who have been an influence for good-the Totton family, the Ruddock family, the Caves family, the Reddick family and the McKinstry family, to name but a few. To them, and to many others, whose names have not been recorded, we, who remain, owe the deepest debt of gratitude.
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CHAPTER 10

Seymour Street Church-Property

Even a casual glance at a photograph of the newly-built church of 1875 will show that the past hundred years have brought several alterations and additions. The main structure remains virtually unchanged but in the old photograph there are no Manse, William Foote Memorial School, railings or outer doors. It is our purpose in this chapter to give some account of the changes made in the property during the life of Seymour Street Church.

As has already been suggested no exact date for the erection of the Manse has been determined but it was probably built shortly after 1880. In the period 1925/30 the disused stabling at the rear of the Manse yard was removed and in 1954 a garage was erected for the use of the Minister. In 1971 central heating was installed in the Manse by an anonymous donor.

The original wall enclosing the church grounds alongside Belfast Road and Wesley Street was of brick and without the present railings, which were fitted to its top in 1912 in order to prevent easy access and damage to the property. At the same time a new front gate and Manse gate, together with gate pillars for both, were erected.

The present pipe-organ was installed in 1920, at a cost of about £1,400, as a memorial to those from the congregation who had served in the First World War. The installation necessitated considerable structural alterations to accommodate the new instrument and the choir. In the early days of the church the choir sat in the gallery; however, as the congregation increased, space in the gallery became limited and the choir moved to sit beside the organ in the North East corner of the church, at the vestry door. The original organ was operated physically by the organist, who faced the vestry wall, and the choir occupied the adjacent pews, sometimes referred to today as the "Amen Pews." The choir now sit in the former "open box" pulpit, which was reached by way of a single door where the organist now sits; a stairway led up to this door from the landing at the rear. To accommodate the organ chamber this stairway was removed and the sizes of the vestry and the boardroom were reduced, the latter now containing the new access stairs for the choir. The centre front of the original pulpit was cut out and moved forward to its present position and two access stairways provided to it, one from each aisle. The operation of the new organ was at first by water power from the town supply, but interruptions during times of drought were inconvenient and a change was made to the use of electric power about 1930 or 1931, when electricity became available in the town.

The heating of the church was initially provided by a system of low pressure pipes containing hot water produced by a solid fuel boiler situated on the level of the basement in the yard to the North. About 1930 or 1931 a complete electric lighting system replaced the gas lighting system which had been provided from the town gas supply. In 1957/58 electric heating replaced the old hot-water system, though the boiler remained, to service the hall beneath the church, until 1963.

The original windows in the side walls of the church had wooden sills inside and a wooden pillar at each side of each window, of the same design as the wooden pillars still existing: The sills and pillars had become decayed and were removed in the 1930's. The metal window-frames had also become corroded and were replaced at the same time. The new windows had more decorative coloured glass than the originals.

In 1968/69 the church roof was completely re-slated and the badly corroded metal finials removed from the gable ends. At the same time the outside walls were re-pointed and the stonework restored where necessary. The inside was completely re-decorated.
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In 1970 the front porch was enclosed by a wood screen having large areas of glass in it and in its three double doors, giving good light. It was hoped that this would mitigate the effects of draughts through the church inner doors. The porch floor was replaced by wood parquet and new wood panelling was fitted on the walls. The space thus enclosed was provided with a table, two matching chairs and a pair of wooden book-cases. These were donated by different families of the congregation.

The church contains two memorial windows. The Lilian Florence Gracey window was provided by the Gracey family about 1934 in memory of their sister who died in 1933. The Keenan window was dedicated on 19th May, 1963. It was presented by Mr. William Keenan, Milltown, Derriaghy, in 1962, in appreciation of his wife, Isabella, who survived him. It was erected after his death.

At the time of the installation of the Memorial Organ, a brass plaque was placed on the North wall of the church, naming those who had served and those who had made the supreme sacrifice in The Great War. A similar plaque was erected after the Second World War to commemorate those who had served in it.

The church hall, beneath the church, had originally only one access door from the passage at the Eagle Terrace end of the hall. This door was situated in the centre of the end wall, leading from the passage which was used as a cloak area. The only other exit from the hall was the stairway, which still exists, leading up to the church's North vestibule. In 1933/ 34 the hall was improved by the removal of the single entrance door and its replacement by two doors from the same corridor. These two doors occupy approximately the sites of two large open fire-places which had heated the schoolroom, as the hall originally was, before hot-water pipes rendered them obsolete. In their turn the pipes and radiators were replaced by electric heating in 1962/63. Originally the hall ceiling was supported by about twenty metal pillars, two of which are still in position. At the same time as the other renovations occurred, all but two of these pillars were removed and replaced by steel beams. The effect of this change was to give greater structural strength and to make movement within the hall much less hazardous and inconvenient.

An important addition in 1934 was a porch which gave an independent entrance to the hall on the Wesley Street side. An access path from the front gate of the church was provided. While work for these new developments was progressing some large stone flags outside the former Seymour Street School lavatories were lifted and one of these was found to contain the following inscription on its reverse side: "Wesleyan Methodist Preaching House, 1772." This stone was placed on the wall of the new porch and beneath it is the statement: "Removed from Market Street, 1875. Erected here, 1934." It appears that this stone, bearing the date 1772, was taken from the old church at the time of the building of Seymour Street Church and had then been forgotten or mislaid until it was fortuitously discovered in 1934. It seems to be authentic but it cannot necessarily be taken as conclusive proof that the Market Street Preaching House was built in 1772 as this stone may have been erected long after the building of the old church.

A further improvement to the property was made in 1960/61. The room to the right of the access passage from Wesley Street, known then as "The Classroom", was converted to use as a modern kitchen with a serving-hatch to the passage and with two access doors. Toilet facilities were also provided on that floor level by utilising part of the open yard to the rear and by altering the stairway leading up to the vestry and boardroom.
In 1966 the hall was provided with a new floor suitable for indoor bowling, and improvements were made to the ceiling and lighting. The existing alcoves in two walls were used to provide lockable storage accommodation for the organisations using the hall and also for the electrical switch-gear.

In 1960 the ground adjoining the Manse to the North was bought from Lisburn Cathedral for £800. On it "Widows' Cottages" had been maintained and there had been a verbal agreement that Seymour Street Church should have an option on its purchase when the Cathedral Select Vestry no longer required the site. By 1960 the cottages were empty and falling into disrepair.

During the next year or so the old buildings were levelled and in 1970/ 71 this ground, together with the former Manse garden adjoining Eagle Terrace, was levelled, drained and gravelled to form a church car-park, having access from Eagle Terrace and Wesley Street, and accommodating about 60 cars. This was carried out with the active co-operation of the residents of Eagle Terrace. A new Manse garden was reserved from the purchased area along the Belfast Road boundary.
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CHAPTER 11

Church Extension

In the post-war period there occurred a considerable shift of population outward from Belfast. During the thirty years since the end of the war vast housing estates have been built to accommodate the rising population and those who wish to move out from the more built-up areas of Belfast. Lisburn has greatly increased in size during this period, the town having spread out in all directions through the building of new housing estates. The Methodist Church in Ireland was alive to the problems and the opportunities which this situation presented. A Church Extension Committee was formed to meet the needs of newly developed areas where there was no church building or organisation.

The Lisburn leaders were aware of the growth of new estates in the Derriaghy area and of the fact that some Methodist families lived in these new houses. In consultation with the members of the Church Extension Committee the leaders decided in March, 1955, to promote a Hall-Church on the estate at Seymour Hill. Meanwhile a Sunday School was opened in an Orange Hall in Derriaghy in order to make contact with Methodist families and to build up a potential congregation for the new church. In 1957, after lengthy discussion of all the possible problems a Building Committee was formed to plan the erection of a Hall-Church. The Building Committee consisted of the following: Messrs. D. Buchanan, J. Megarry, A. Kirk, C. M. Allen, A. Connor, J. W. Walker, M. Ward, D. C. Fullerton, H. Stevenson, W. Caves, J. Maze, H. Walker, J. McCahey and S. V. W. McCready. Shortly afterwards, in 1958, six local people formed a committee to work with the Lisburn Circuit and Mr. Harry Ferguson was appointed Secretary of the combined committee. The contract was awarded to Messrs. Connor and Beattie and the foundation-stones were laid on Friday, 9th May, 1958. On a very cold wintry evening foundation stones were laid by Mrs. F. Bartlett Lang (daughter of Mr. Joseph Rank, whose Rank 4 Trust had extensively supported the new venture), Messrs, F. H. Menary, W. J. Keenan, A. Wilson, E. T. Green, and D. B. McCready, local benefactors, and Miss A. Beckett and Mrs. L. Nesbitt, representing the new congregation. Greetings were brought by Rev. John N. Spence of the Church Extension Fund, Rev. F. Bartlett Lang, representing the Rank Trust and Rev. J. Wesley McKinney, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland.

Trustees were appointed for the new property as follows: Messrs. H. Ferguson, W. Watson, Robinson, Nesbitt and Gray (local representatives) and Messrs. W. B. Beckett, W. Reynolds, A. Johnston, B. Walker, W. Smyth and C. M. Allen, together with Rev. W. E. Carson. The Hall Church, which cost £ 16,000, and was designed by Mr. S. V. W. McCready, A.R.I.B.A., was officially opened on Saturday, 1st November, 1958, by Mr. Fred H. Menary, whose generous gift of £5,000 had been a great encouragement to the Building Committee. The service was conducted by the Chairman of the Belfast District Synod, Rev. R. W. McVeigh, and the new Hall-Church was dedicated by the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, Rev. R. J. Good. The first minister of the new congregation was Rev. R. H. Gallagher, B.A., who had been a Supernumerary Minister for several years and had volunteered to help out temporarily.

A manse was bought in Killeaton Estate and was ready for occupation in July, 1961. At that time Mr. Gallagher retired and was replaced by Rev. J. B. Turner. As the cause at Seymour Hill became established and developed it became increasingly independent and in 1966 the Conference Structure of Circuits Committee recommended that it should form part of a new circuit comprising Finaghy, Suffolk and Seymour Hill. It then ceased to be part of the Lisburn Circuit. It is interesting to note that in September, 1970, when the minister of Seymour Hill was Rev. J. Winston Good, our present minister in Seymour Street, a major development occurred with the opening of a re-constructed church and new halls.

In 1964 the members of the Leaders' Board became conscious of a further area of development and the necessity to cater for the needs of a new community growing upon the Moira Road, the area of the Knockmore and Old Warren Estates. The Methodist Church Extension Committee agreed to purchase a site in the area if one could be found. During the next year several sites were offered by the Housing Trust but none of these was felt to be suitable. It was then suggested that, rather than embark on the large expenditure necessary for a new church, an approach might be made to the Presbyterian Church. However no approach was made and plans were drawn up for the building of a church hall. In 1966 an approach was made to the Leaders' Board by the local Presbyterian Minister, Rev. D. Malcolm Scott, enquiring if there would be any interest in a united effort in the area. It was agreed to investigate the possibility of operating a joint church, particularly as the number of Protestants moving into the area had not been as great as anticipated.
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After some discussion it was decided in January, 1967, to proceed with the plans for a joint church. It was to be built by the Presbyterian Church which would provide the Minister for the cause. The congregation was to be Presbyterian in organisation, but Methodists who became members would be eligible, equally with Presbyterian members, to hold office within the congregation. Initially the new church, St. Columba's, was to be run by an Interim Kirk Session, three members of which would be nominated by the Seymour Street Leaders' Board.

The church was based initially in temporary premises, erected in May, 1965, on the Moira Road. Its first minister, who is still in charge, was Rev. D. Malcolm Scott, B.A. Plans for the new church proceeded and the foundation stones were laid at a ceremony on Saturday, 8th March, 1969. Four stones were laid, by the Very Rev. W. Boyd, M.A., D.D., Former Moderator of the General Assembly, and Rev. Howard Cromie, M.A., B.D., Minister of Railway Street Presbyterian Church, representing the Presbyterian Church, and by Rev. R. D. Eric Gallagher, B.A., B.D., Former President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, and Rev. R. Desmond Morris, Minister of Seymour Street Methodist Church, representing the Methodist Church.

The Opening and Dedication of St. Columba's Church took place on Friday, 5th September, 1969. It was conducted by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Rt. Rev. Dr. J. T. Carson, B.A., D. D. The Methodist Conference was represented by Rev. R. D. E. Gallagher, B. A., B. D., former President, and Seymour Street Church was represented by Rev. R. Desmond Morris. The Communion Vessels for the new church and the furnishings forthe Minister's Room were given by the leaders and members of Seymour Street Church.
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CHAPTER 12

The Last Decade

Various aspects of church life during the past ten years merit a mention in any account of Seymour Street Church's history.

Perhaps the most significant happening for the Church has been the return to the congregation of the William Foote Memorial School. This building, it will be remembered, had been taken over in the 1930's by the Lisburn and Belfast Regional Education Committee. Until its return to the church in 1966, it could not be used by the congregation, except on special occasions with the permission of the Education authorities. When the present Forthill Primary School was opened in 1966, the William Foote Memorial School was returned to its original owners, Seymour Street Church. The Leaders' Board, with commendable foresight and courage, embarked on a major scheme of renovation and decoration, at a cost of about £6,000. The newly renovated building comprised a coffee lounge, two classrooms, toilet facilities, and a large hall, the David Buchanan Room. This hall was formed when two of the classrooms were united and the hall thus formed was then lengthened to make it suitable for the playing of badminton. It was envisaged that this newly restored suite of buildings would greatly facilitate the work amongst young people and this has proved to be the case.

The work was completed in 1968 and the school building was re-opened and dedicated at a ceremony on Sunday, 22nd September, of that year. The building was formally opened by Miss Jean McKinstry of Moss-side, Lambeg, a pupil of the school when it was first opened and a member of a family well known in Lisburn Methodism for several generations. The speaker at the opening ceremony was Rev. John Hart, a former Minister of Seymour Street. Mr. Charles M. Allen gave an outline of the history of the William Foote Memorial School.

The renovated buildings have since been extensively used by the Sunday Schools, the uniformed organisations, the Badminton Club, and the Junior and Young People's C.E. Societies; one of the classrooms, now known as The Crèche, accommodates meetings which have an attendance of fewer than seventy members.

A valuable service has been provided since about 1969. The Church Services are tape-recorded and the recordings are delivered each week to homes where the ill and elderly are not able to be present at Worship. Mr. Kenneth Gamble has been responsible for organising this work and he has been assisted by several others, notably Mrs. A. Getgood, in distributing the tapes of the services. Mr. Gamble has also been responsible for installing a microphone and loudspeakers to improve the acoustics in the church. Much of the cost of the installation was met by a gift from an anonymous donor.

In September, 1970, a committee was formed to examine ways and means of encouraging greater interest in the evening service. One of the suggestions was that it might be advertised in a news sheet, which might also be developed into a monthly congregational magazine. Mr. George E. Orr was appointed editor and he was assisted in the project by Mr. Ian Wells. For the first two years all the typing was done by Miss Marjorie McKendry, now Mrs. Colin Keys. In 1971 the News Sheet was extended to become a circuit magazine and in January, 1973, it was given a new format and was called "The Light." It is typed by a rota of volunteer typists and is produced on the premises, the Church having purchased a type-writer and a duplicating machine and having fitted a cupboard in the Boardroom to house all the equipment.

A feature of the work on the circuit recently has been the involvement of the Retired Ministers who live in the Lisburn area. Rev. George M. Fennell took an active part in the work in Magheragall for several years prior to 1967. He resides on the circuit and continues to conduct services. Rev. W. E. Cullen, B.A., and Rev. William Jackson have also retired to live in the district and their services to the Lisburn Circuit are warmly appreciated. Rev. S. H. Baxter, M.A., D.D., retired in 1973 and in the following November took up duties on the circuit on a part-time basis. He has already made a fine contribution to the life of the church. Our most recent Retired Minister is Rev. James B. Turner, a Minister on the former Seymour Hill division of the circuit, who has just retired in 1975 and has come to live on the circuit. We look forward to his ministry.
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For the first time in the history of the Lisburn Circuit the Superintendent Minister does not reside in the Seymour Street Manse. On the departure of Rev. R. Desmond Morris in 1971, Rev. J. Winston Good, from the neighbouring church of Seymour Hill, was appointed to Lisburn. Rev. John A. T. Fee, who was the Minister of Broomhedge and Priesthill, was appointed Superintendent of the Lisburn Circuit at that time.

In 1972 a request came from the Methodist Church in Ghana for a nurse to assist in running a medical clinic for a period of almost two years. One of our members, Miss Dorothy Maze, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Maze, offered her services. The Methodist Missionary Society, though approving of the project, was not prepared to finance it, so the members of the Quarterly Board gave their blessing and formed a committee to be responsible for securing financial support. A total of £1,700 was raised by personal donation and this was sufficient to cover the costs of the project. Miss Maze returned to Ireland at the end of 1974 and hopes to return to Ghana, with her husband, Mr. Philip Parish, under the auspices of the Methodist Missionary Society, in the near future.

Several other young members of the Church have also become engaged in Christian service abroad. Miss Christine Allen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles M. Allen, is at present serving as a nurse with the Presbyterian Missionary Society in Malawi. Two daughters of Mrs. F. Twinem, Margaret and Daphne, have also gone overseas; Margaret, together with her husband, lives in the Seychelle Islands, whilst Daphne is teaching in Zambia. A third daughter, Muriel, is studying at Capernwray Bible College. Miss Ruth Chittick worked for some time with Operation Mobilisation in Belgium. Mr. Trevor Gibb is presently studying at a Bible College near Paris.

A feature of the church in Lisburn has been the contribution made by some of its members to the wider field of the Methodist Church in Ireland. Mention has already been made of the unique contribution made by the late Mr. J. W. Walker; Mr. Griffith H. Black has also served on many of the Connexional committees. In recent years the following members of the Church have held office in Connexional Departments: Mr. J. W. Walker was Lay Treasurer of the Irish Methodist Ministers' Retirement Fund; Mr. R. Cyril Hinds was Lay Treasurer of the Youth Department; Mr. Griffith H. Black is Lay Treasurer of the Home Mission Fund; Mr. Thomas G. Wilson is Treasurer of The Irish Methodist Ministers' Housing Society; Dr. E. Leonard Calvert is Lay Treasurer of the Ministerial Training Fund and is a Governor of Edgehill College; Mr. William Fullerton is a Governor of Gurteen Agricultural College.

Seymour Street has not produced very many candidates for the Ministry but the following Ministers originated from Lisburn: Rev. George W. Thompson, Rev. Samuel Allen, Rev. J. E. Neill, Rev. George Kell and Rev. Herbert Quinn, who later resigned from the Ministry. At present one of our young men, Mr. Aian Ferguson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Ferguson, is attending Edgehill College, having been accepted as a candidate for the Ministry in 1974.

As part of our programme for our Centenary Year of 1975, and as local participation in the Methodist Year of Evangelism, a Mission was held in Seymour Street in January, 1975. It was conducted by Rev. Alan Broadbent of Manchester Central Mission. He brought to the fortnight's services an interesting and refreshing approach, a refusal to be glib or emotive, and a sincerity and directness that were honest and challenging. Many lives were changed and, as a direct result of the Mission, house group discussions have developed and a Men's Fellowship has been started.

Following the Conference of 1973, the Belfast District, of which Lisburn had been a member circuit, was split up as it was felt that it had become too large and impersonal. Three new districts were formed and Lisburn Circuit is now part of the Down District.
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CHAPTER 13

Seymour Street Today

The Church today in Seymour Street continues to carry on the work of the last hundred years. It proclaims the same message of God's Salvation for men but there are many differences in the methods by which that message is expressed. Our forefathers of one hundred years ago would probably feel quite at home in our Sunday Services of Worship because they follow a fairly traditional pattern; we sing many of the old hymns; we usually read from the Authorised Version; the language of our prayers and sermons would be intelligible to them. One wonders what they would make of the smartly turned. out uniformed organisations, the Bowling or Badminton Clubs, a Youth Service with readings from The Living Bible, or tape-recordings of the Morning Service.

The people who make up the church today come from a much wider range of backgrounds than did the original membership of Seymour Street. In 1875 it was a church for the people of the Lisburn district, people who had been born and bred in that area. Now Lisburn has greatly developed and the movement of population is rapid and continuous. Families come and families go with almost bewildering speed. Many of those who take a lead in the affairs of Seymour Street are members of the families which can be traced to the early days, many have been members for more than a generation, but many, too, have come to Seymour Street more recently. They have found there a warm welcome and have been encouraged to make their contributions to God's work.

Our Future - The Sunday School, 1975

The Church Services are held at 11.30 a.m. and 6.30 p.m. The Morning Service normally attracts a large congregation. The church seats 400 people and there are seldom fewer than 300 present. A considerable proportion of these, about half, are children and young people. The Evening Service is not well attended, the congregation averaging about 100 people. The services are conducted not only by our own Ministers, Rev. John A. T. Fee, Superintendent of the Circuit, and Rev. J. Winston Good, Minister of Seymour Street, but also by the Retired Ministers who reside on the circuit and by Local Preachers. A feature of the Evening Services during the last four or five years has been a series of services conducted by members of the various organisations connected with the church. Those who worship are given a fine lead by our recently appointed organist, Mr. Adrian Nesbitt, and by the choir who provide very faithful service. One of their number, Miss May Higginbottom, deserves special mention as she joined the choir in 1919, and has served the church in that capacity for 56 years.

Until 1970 there were two Sunday Schools, one meeting in the morning and one in the afternoon. As social habits changed the numbers attending the Afternoon School dwindled during the 1960's. Eventually the Afternoon School, which during its final fifteen years had operated under Mr. Hubert Maze as Superintendent, was closed in 1970. The Morning School is, however, flourishing. More than 200 children attend it and there are about 25 teachers, who give devoted service. Much of the credit for this happy state of affairs must be given to a former Superintendent, Mr. John MacGillivray, who served from 1955, and to the present Superintendent, Mr. Alex Acheson, who succeeded him in 1968. Both have given outstanding service to this vitally important branch of the Church's work. Associated with the work of the Sunday School is the Cradle Roll, which is under the guidance of Mrs. F. Twinem, who maintains contact with the parents of children who have been baptised in the church.

A similar work is undertaken by Mrs. Adrian Nesbitt and her band of helpers in the Children's Church. Sixty or seventy children, aged eight years and under, leave the Morning Service after the Children's Address and have their own form of worship in the school-rooms. During the Morning Service a valuable service is performed by members of the Young Women's Association, who superintend the crèche for children under three years in order that their parents may be able to attend worship. This service has been increasingly used during the seven years since it was initiated.
In the chapter entitled "A Personal Memoir" mention was made of the participation of the children in leading worship on Children's Day. This tradition continues and one of the delights of Children's Day and the Carol Service at Christmas is the performance of the Junior Choir. It had been trained for over twenty years, until her retirement in 1974, by Mrs. Bertie Walker. In this demanding but, doubtless, rewarding work she has been succeeded by Mrs. William Monroe.
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The origins of the uniformed organisations have been investigated in a previous chapter. The Boys' Brigade Company, whose Chaplain is Rev. J. Winston Good, meets weekly, except during the summer months. The Captain, Mr. Eddie McClenahan, is supported by a number of enthusiastic officers and N.C.O.'s There is a Company of about 100 boys, including those in the Junior Section and the Robins.

The Girls' Brigade also numbers in its ranks about 100 members, including Brigaders, Seniors, Juniors and Explorers. Both Boys' and Girls' companies had to suspend their activities during the war years when the accommodation was used as a canteen for the troops. When, in 1945, the activities of the Girls' Life Brigade were resumed Miss Kathleen McCullough took over as Captain and Miss Elsie Dalton became Lieutenant, positions which they hold today. Rev. J. Winston Good is Chaplain of the Company, which became the Girls' Brigade a few years ago.

In 1970, following the closure of the Afternoon Sunday School an attempt was made to replace it by a Junior Christian Endeavour Society but this did not prove successful. Instead, in 1973, a Junior C.E. Society, which met on Monday evening, was formed, and about twenty or thirty children regularly attend, under the leadership of Miss Noelle Gibson and Mr. Rodney Hinds.

An Intermediate Society of Christian Endeavour was active in the 1930's but appears to have been a victim of the war-time activities. Following the Mission conducted by Mr. Michael Perrott in January, 1968, the Youth Fellowship, which had existed for some time, evolved into a Young People's C.E. Society, under the leadership of Mr. Herbie Dunn. This Society, meeting on Sunday following the Evening Service, has flourished and since Mr. Dunn's departure for Portadown in 1971, Mr. James Dumigan has given a fine lead to the young people.

One of the more important aspects of the C.E. Society's work has been the involvement of its members in various forms of outreach and evangelism. Attempts were made to reach young people who had no connection with the church. One of the classrooms of the William Foote Memorial School was suitably decorated and fitted out to provide accommodation appropriate for coffee-bar outreach activity. It was named "The Wheelhouse." For almost two years-from September 1972-The Wheelhouse proved useful as a weekly place of meeting and communicating with those outside the influence of the church, but, unfortunately, owing to vandalism by some trouble-makers, this Saturday night project had to be abandoned. Coffee-bar outreach from The Wheelhouse continues on a less regular basis.

The Women's organisations have always been strong in Seymour Street and today they are very active. The Women's Department was already in existence in the 1920's as some of our older members remember it then. In the early days it met in the afternoon but just before the 1939-1945 War Mrs. E. T. Green suggested that an Evening Branch should be formed as it might prove more convenient for the younger women. However the suggestion was not then put into practice as the war intervened. Later in the 1950's, during the ministry of Rev. Alfred Collins, an Evening Branch was formed. About three years ago the name was changed from Women's Department to Methodist Women's Association. Mrs. J. Winston Good is President of both branches; the Afternoon Branch meeting is held once a month and the Evening Branch meets on alternate Tuesdays. Two of the members, Mrs. W. Fullerton and Mrs. M. Ward, are Secretary and Treasurer, respectively, of the Down District M.W.A.
About 1968 some members of the church felt that a meeting-place for young married women of the congregation was desirable and in 1969 a Young Wives' Group was formed. As well as raising money for various church funds, the members of this group supervise the Sunday morning crèche and following the Sunday Evening Service deliver the flowers to those who are ill or elderly. In 1972 the group became the Young Women's Association, open to all young women of the church, married or unmarried, and affiliated to the M.W.A. One of its chief functions is to interest women who might not otherwise have very close associations with the church. One of the members, Mrs. William Gowdy, is presently the All Ireland President of the Young Women's Association.

The Indoor Bowling Club was founded in September, 1964. A number of interested people met to form a club and Rev. R. Desmond Morris was appointed as the first President. The first Chairman was Mr. J. Howard G. Stevenson, whose enthusiasm had been largely instrumental in the formation of the Club. He continued to hold that office until 1973, when he was succeeded by Mr. Marcus Ward, the present Chairman. The first Secretary was Mrs. W. Bennett whilst the present Secretary is Mrs. Amy McKendry. The laying of a new floor in the Church Hall in 1966 made it much more suitable for bowling.
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Another recreational activity is the Badminton Club which commenced when the facilities became available in 1968, following the handing back of the William Foote Memorial School to the church. The club meets in the David Buchanan Room under the present captains, Mr. Brian Gray and Mrs. Alan Stewart.

Following the Mission conducted by Rev. Alan Broadbent in January, 1975, other activities have been started. A Young Adults' Group, which had been organised during the previous year, has now become established. House groups for discussion and fellowship, which were such a feature of the Mission, have continued and are fulfilling a useful role. A Men's Fellowship, with an average attendance of more than twenty, has developed from the Men's Meetings held during the Mission. Meeting on alternate Sunday afternoons it has met a long-felt need as a meeting-place for the men of the congregation.

The Midweek Fellowship has not been well attended. During the ministry of Rev. R. Desmond Morris an attempt was made to revive interest by holding this gathering in various homes of the congregation. This proved moderately successful. However since the Mission the attendance has increased and it has been found more convenient to have a central meeting-place so the members of this group now meet in The Crèche.

A feature of Mr. Good's ministry has been the running of Local Preachers' Classes, which have included many members who are interested in studying the doctrines of the Methodist Church but who have no plans to become Local Preachers. One of the group who did become a fully accredited Local Preacher is our ministerial candidate, Mr. Aian Ferguson.

No church could function without dedicated leadership and Seymour Street continues to be fortunate in the men and women who give devoted service in many aspects of the church's life. Mr. W. B. Beckett, who has been Senior Circuit Steward for the past ten years, has served the Church
those who are ill or elderly. In 1972 the group became the Young Women's Association, open to all young women of the church, married or unmarried, and affiliated to the M.W.A. One of its chief functions is to interest women who might not otherwise have very close associations with the church. One of the members, Mrs. William Gowdy, is presently the AllIreland President of the Young Women's Association.
The Indoor Bowling Club was founded in September, 1964. A number of interested people met to form a club and Rev. R. Desmond Morris was appointed as the first President. The first Chairman was Mr. J. Howard G. Stevenson, whose enthusiasm had been largely instrumental in the formation of the Club. He continued to hold that office until 1973, when he was succeeded by Mr. Marcus Ward, the present Chairman. The first Secretary was Mrs. W. Bennett whilst the present Secretary is Mrs. Amy McKendry. The laying of a new floor in the Church Hall in 1966 made it much more suitable for bowling.
Another recreational activity is the Badminton Club which commenced when the facilities became available in 1968, following the handing back of the William Foote Memorial School to the church. The club meets in the David Buchanan Room under the present captains, Mr. Brian Gray and Mrs. Alan Stewart.

Following the Mission conducted by Rev. Alan Broadbent in January, 1975, other activities have been started. A Young Adults' Group, which had been organised during the previous year, has now become established. House groups for discussion and fellowship, which were such a feature of the Mission, have continued and are fulfilling a useful role. A Men's Fellowship, with an average attendance of more than twenty, has developed from the Men's Meetings held during the Mission. Meeting on alternate Sunday afternoons it has met a long-felt need as a meeting-place for the men of the congregation.

The Midweek Fellowship has not been well attended. During the ministry of Rev. R. Desmond Morris an attempt was made to revive interest by holding this gathering in various homes of the congregation. This proved moderately successful. However since the Mission the attendance has increased and it has been found more convenient to have a central meeting-place so the members of this group now meet in The Cr&he.
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A feature of Mr. Good's ministry has been the running of Local Preachers' Classes, which have included many members who are interested in studying the doctrines of the Methodist Church but who have no plans to become Local Preachers. One of the group who did become a fully accredited Local Preacher is our ministerial candidate, Mr. Aian Ferguson.

No church could function without dedicated leadership and Seymour Street continues to be fortunate in the men and women who give devoted service in many aspects of the church's life. Mr. W. B. Beckett, who has been Senior Circuit Steward for the past ten years, has served the Church devotedly in that capacity and also as Secretary for Overseas Missions. Mr. Griffith H. Black, who was Junior Circuit Steward for nine years, until December 1974, has been a tireless worker for the good of Seymour Street. The present holder of the office is Mr. W. E. S. Fullerton of the Priesthill Division. Our present Society Stewards, Mr. Stanley Lipscombe and Mr. William Gowdy, are worthy successors to men of the past who held that office. Two of the senior members of the Board, Mr. Charles M. Allen and Mr. J. Howard G. Stevenson, have been associated with Seymour Street since they were born. Each has served as Society Steward whilst Mr. Allen has also given devoted service as Circuit Steward and Secretary of the Leaders' Board. Mr. Stevenson has served the Church well as Trust Steward since 1952, devoting a great deal of time and energy to caring for the property at Seymour Street. The names of all the present officials and leaders are included in an appendix.

Throughout the past hundred years many laymen within our Church have played important roles in the life of the community. We are happy that today several of our members follow in their footsteps by holding positions of honour and importance on local committees, boards and official bodies. We thank God for the quality of life which these men exemplify. We believe that He will raise up others to follow their example.

"We'll praise Him for all that is past
And trust Him for all that's to come."

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