History of our Church

 

The congregation of Ballyholme was established as a Church Extension cause in the newly built Church Hall at Ashley Drive, Bangor. The hall was opened by Sir Thomas McMullan [member of the church Extension Committee] and dedicated by The Right Rev Dr John Waddell, Moderator, on 4 September 1937. Three years later, Ballyholme was “erected” to a “congregation” on 5 November 1940. 

 

Over the next few years, there was a gathering-swell of opinion that the new Church should be located at a more prominent site in the area, and, in 1945, another site was taken on the Groomsport Road. However, there was much difference of opinion over this and it led to a long delay in completing the suite of Church buildings. In the end, the congregation decided to stay at Ashley Drive and, on the 18 April 1959, the foundation stone was laid by Mr Thomas Y. Ekin and dedicated by The Right Rev Dr William McAdam, Moderator. Twenty two months later on 11 February 1961, The Right Rev Dr Austin A. Fulton, Moderator, performed the opening and dedication ceremonies. 

 

To alleviate accommodation pressure on the Church Hall, a wooden building [gifted anonymously by a member of the congregation] was erected on the west side of the Church Hall. This building, known as the Minor Hall, was dedicated by the Rev Dr David Burke, Moderator of Ards Presbytery on 19 November 1960. It was subsequently dismantled in 1976 to make way for the new hall. 

 

With the opening of the Church, membership of the congregation increased steadily through the 1960’s and well into the 1970’s to the extent that there was again accommodation pressures on both the Church Hall and Minor Hall. Plans for a new hall were approved by the Congregation on 14 June 1976. This new hall, known as The William Erskine Hall, was opened by The Right Rev Dr Thomas A. Patterson, Moderator, on 21 January 1978, and the service of dedication was conducted by Rev Derek McKelvey, Moderator of Ards Presbytery 

 

By the late 1980’s, numbers of children attending youth organisations had grown considerably and the connecting corridor between the William Erskine Hall and the Church Hall , where parents waited to collect their children, became totally congested at finishing times. So, “Project 90” consisted of the restoration and extension of the entrance area to the William Erskine Hall. It was also decided to make this development two storey, thereby creating two upper meeting rooms and a galley kitchen, and, at ground level, a repositioning of toilet areas to give space for an office and disabled toilet, and the removal of the Minister’s room to open up the seating area. The extent of the project was approved by the Congregation on 11 December 1991. The opening was performed by The Right Rev Dr Andrew R. Rodgers, Moderator, on 25 September 1993, the service of dedication was conducted by Rev Ivan D. Neish, Moderator of Ards Presbytery. 

 

Externally, the Church building has had new front steps and access ramp installed in 2005. The Glenburn entrance steps have been removed and the existing pathways ramped to provide an “at grade” entrance in 2006. Internally, in the Church building, the pew frontals were removed 1980’s and the front row of pews were removed and two wheelchair “pockets” created in 2010. In July 2011, a new Junkers sports flooring was laid in The William Erskine Hall. 

 

Our 75th Anniversary in 2012 was celebrated with special church services; a Celebrate and Sing concert with many local church choirs taking part; a Fashion Show of Wedding Dresses through the Years (dresses all belong to our members); a commemorative brochure of the History 1937-2012 and a visit by the Moderator, The Right Rev. Dr. Roy Paton, who conducted Morning Service on 16 September. 

 

Former Assistants-in-charge 

 

Mr S. James Fitzsimmons September 1937 - February 1940 

 

Mr William Erskine April 1940 - January 1941 

 

Former Ministers 

 

1941 - Rev. William Erskine, M.A., ordained 23 January 1941, retired 25 February 1978 

 

1980 – Rev. Dr. Donald James Watts, B.Sc., B.D., Ph.D., installed 16 January 1980, left [appointed Clerk-Designate] 2 September 2001.