First Presbyterian Church (Non-Subscribing), Newry
Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland

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News - 2011

Dec Nov Oct Sep Aug Jul Jun May Apr Mar Feb Jan


Mrs Lorna Hanna, Clerk of Session, in the absence of the Rev Hutton, welcomed members of Newry Council of Knight Masons No 7 to the church for their 85th Anniversary Service. The service was conducted by the Rev Charles McCurdy and the address was given by the Rev Paul Reid, Minister of our Larne and Kilwaughter Church.

We were saddened to learn of the death of our highly esteemed Committee Member, Mr John Strain, who died on Tuesday 13th September. John had been ill for the previous nine months, having spent much of his time in Daisy Hill and the Royal Victoria Hospital. His funeral, which was one of the largest in recent years, was held on Friday 16th September and was conducted by his Minister and friend the Rev Norman Hutton. Also present was Canon Moore, who read a lesson, and the Rev Cecil Scott, John's former Minister from Cremore.

John was born on 3rd May 1947 - the elder of two boys born to David and Frances Strain of Dromantine, Poyntzpass. He is survived by his mother, Frances, and his brother, William. On 25th April 1970 John married Miss Phyliss Gordon and, in the course of 41 years of wedded bliss, they were blessed with four sons and a daughter. They formerly resided at Latt, Mullaghglass, but recently moved to a new bungalow beside Phyliss' brothers Robert and John.

As well as a very valued member of the Church Committee, John was also very interested in the Loyal Orders. Mr David Andrews paid a tribute to John's involvement with these, giving a glowing tribute to all his work within the Orange, Black and Apprentice Boys. Indeed John was the Chairman of the Orange, Black and Apprentice Boys Charity Committee and organised several fund-raising events for this charity each year. Whilst John was deeply involved with this organisation, he was also highly respected in the community in general. This was evident from the large congregation which overflowed; present were folk of all denominations and all political parties.

Naturally the church and many other organisations to which John belonged will sadly miss his enthusiasm and devoted loyalty, but it is his family who will miss him the most. Our deepest sympathy is extended to his wife Phyllis; his children Keith, Mervyn, Ian, Lorraine and Samuel; his mother Frances; his brother William; his son-in-law Colin; his daughters-in-law Joanne and Ruth; his grandchildren Molly, Charlotte, Joshua and Nicole; and the entire Strain and Gordon family circles.

It was a busy weekend for our Ladies, as, after catering for the funeral on Friday, it was back to the church on Saturday morning to decorate it for the Harvest on the following Sunday. Their efforts were greatly appreciated by those who attended the Harvest Services on Sunday 18th September. The morning service was conducted by our Minister and the Choir sang the Introit "Praise and Thanksgiving" and two Anthems "Seed of Promise" and "My House is Full". Thanks to Mrs McNellis and the Choir for adding to a beautiful service of Thanksgiving for another bountiful Harvest.

Our Evening Harvest was conducted by the Moderator, Rt Rev Sam Peden, and once again the Choir contributed to the service by singing the Introit "Praise and Thanksgiving" and two Anthems "Smile and Keep On Smiling" and "The Beautiful Garden of Prayer", as well as the Vesper "Peace, Perfect Peace". As usual at our evening service the praise was led by our friends from the Hunter Moore Memorial Flute Band. After the service, the Rev Hutton invited Mr Colin Hempkin to come forward and present the Rt Rev Peden with a cheque for £1432.50 for the Moderator's Appeal for the Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital. Colin raised £330 through sponsorship for a sponsored walk along the Canal Towpath. After the service everyone was invited to retire to the Warnock Hall for refreshments, which was a beautiful way to end a day of Thanksgiving.

Many of the congregation attended the Harvest Service in our Warrenpoint Church on Sunday 2nd October, which was conducted by the Rev Rosalind Taggart. The praise was led by Warrenpoint Silver Band and the guest Soloist was Mr Alan Burns from Banbridge, who sang "How Great Thou Art" accompanied by our organist Mrs Isobel Beck. Refreshments were served to everyone after the service.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who morn the loss of loved ones, and those who are hospitalised at this present time.

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Where has the summer gone? What summer, I hear you say; but was the weather any worse than previous years? As we look around, the crops have by and large been harvested and some of the fruits are the best ever.

The results obtained by the Sunday School at the annual competition have given us a renewed impetus as we start another year. That good feeling extended into our Children's Day Service on Sunday 19th June. Whilst they were small in numbers, yet the boys and girls provided us with a memorable service. It was also Father's Day and every male member of the congregation got an appropriate book marker.

Technically the Sunday School year ended with our Annual Barbecue and Sponsored Walk in Gosford Forest Park on Saturday 25th June. At this beautiful venue young and old enjoyed a wonderful day out thanks to the effort of our Sunday School Superintendent and her fellow teachers and members of their families.

The next day, Sunday 26th June, Mrs Elizabeth Moore conducted our Service in the absence of the Rev Hutton.

During July and August, the main holiday months, the attendance is down on the annual average, but nevertheless we are delighted that many faithful members still turn out Sunday by Sunday, especially our organist and choir to lead the praise.

This was so at the Annual Church Service for Newry No 9 Orange District Lodge, which was held in our church this year. Members paraded from the local Orange Hall to the Church headed by Hunter Moore Memorial Flute Band. The District Master, Bro Michael McCullough, read the Old Testament Reading and the Deputy District Master, Bro Jonathan Wharton, read the New Testament Reading. Our Minister, Bro Rev Norman Hutton, gave the address entitled "The King James Bible - the Book of Books". The choir sang "Where The Roses Never Fade" during the collection.

Our Annual Holiday this year was to the West of Ireland. The party was based in the Park Hotel, Kiltimagh, Co Mayo, where we enjoyed excellent facilities and good food.

During the time spent there we visited Westport and the Museum of Country Life at Castlebar. On Wednesday we journeyed to Cong and had a tour of the village where "The Quiet Man" film, starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, was shot in 1951. Then it was on through some beautiful scenery to Kylemore Abbey. Some managed to take in the Walled Garden, others the Gothic Church and Mausoleum, while most just contented themselves with visiting the Abbey and the café and craft shop in the beautiful setting on the shore of Pollacuppel Lake. Then all too soon it was time to leave this enchanted paradise with its fascinating history spanning 150 years.

The following day we visited Galway City; there we sampled the atmosphere of the Galway Races, as the city was packed with race-goers. Some visited St Nicholas' Collegiate Church built in 1320 on the site of an earlier church. The Battle Standards of the Connaught Rangers, formed in 1793, hang on one of the walls, and nearby is a memorial to various parishioners who died during the First World War 1914-1918.

Our last full day took us to Achill Island, which is Ireland's largest offshore island and is connected to the mainland by a bridge over the causeway - Achill Sound.

During dinner on the last day we learned of the death of our dear friend Sadie Holmes. The Rev Hutton conducted a short Act of Worship and our party sympathised with Mrs Charlotte Holmes and Mrs Florence Hanna (Sadie's sisters who were on the trip). We departed on Saturday morning and had a lunch break at the Killyhevlin Hotel in Enniskillen.

The Service of Thanksgiving and Remembrance for Mrs Sarah Holmes was held in our church on Monday 1st August and was conducted by the Rev Hutton, with Scripture Readings being ready by Mr Robert Holmes and the Rev William Orr; Mrs Anne Holmes gave the tribute.

Sadie was born on the 4th April 1930 to Mary and David Reid and grew up on the farm at Crobane with her two brothers, David and Jim, now sadly both deceased. She is survived by four sisters, Florence, Charlotte, Tilly and Barbara. Sadie was a fine cook and baker; she worked in various bakeries, including Pooles and The Shelbourne.

During various vacancies in the congregation, Sadie would always have entertained the visiting Ministers and Lay Preachers.

Sadie married George Ernest Holmes in January 1950; they lived in Erskine Place, where their sons Anthony and Robert were born, before moving to Shandon Park. George, Sadie and the family faithfully worshipped at both our Newry and Warrenpoint Churches.

Sadly George passed away in September 1991 and Sadie went to reside in Rockfield Nursing Home until her death on the 29th July. For more than 50 years Sadie bore the trials and tribulations of Multiple Sclerosis, an illness she bore with unsurpassed grace and courage. During the last couple of years she had been unable to attend church, but that never stopped her enquiring about the well-being of other members of the churches.

Speaking at her funeral, the Rev Hutton commended her great Christian Faith, which he directly attributed to the manner in which she fought her illness. Quoting Paul's assertion: she fought the good fight, she finished the course, she kept faith and there is laid up for her the crown of righteousness. The Rev Hutton conveyed the deepest sympathy of the congregation of Newry and Warrenpoint to her sons Anthony and Robert, their wives Anne and Elaine, their children Gareth, Cohn, Sarah and Katherine, and also to her sisters Florrie, Charlotte, Tilly and Barbara.

Rev Charles McCurdy conducted our service on Sunday 7th August due to the Rev Hutton being unable to take the service.

On Saturday 3rd September ten members of the church set out on a Sponsored Walk along the Canal Towpath. The start point was at Carnbane and the finish was at Gamble's Bridge, where Mrs Sheila Thompson had prepared refreshments for both the Newry walkers and our Banbridge walkers, who had set off at the same time from Scarva. It is hoped that a good sum will be raised for the Moderator's Appeal.

On Wednesday 7th September the Presbytery of Bangor met in the Newry Church to hear the various reports of the Commissioners. The meeting commenced with a short service conducted by the Moderator, Rt Rev S J Peden. The scripture reading and address was given by the Rev Ian Gilpin. The Rev John Herron presented the report on Work and Witness, Miss Jayne Caven that on Records, Mr Adrian Moir that on Finance and Mr Bertie McClean that on Property. These reports all spoke in glowing terms of the state of the congregation - the only black spot being the struggle to find redress regarding the defective materials and workmanship of the renovation from 1999/2000. The Moderator accepted the reports on behalf of the Presbytery and Mrs Lorna Hanna (Clerk of Session) and Mrs Daryl Hempkin (Sunday School Superintendent) accepted them on behalf of the congregation. After the singing of the hymn "Guide me, O thou great Jehovah" the Moderator pronounced the Benediction and a Blessing for Supper, and the meeting adjourned to the Warnock Hall for supper.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those members who are hospitalised, and their families who keep a vigil at their bedside.

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JULY 2011

The year started with a visit by the Sunday School to see the Pantomime "Snow White" in the Town Hall ? each child received a "goodie bag" consisting of drink, crisps and sweets. Our thanks must go to the Sunday School teachers for organising this outing. On Wednesday, 23rd February it was the turn of the Ladies to have a night out. This year their Annual Dinner was held in the Canal Court Hotel ? and for one night all the diets were abandoned.

On Sunday, 27th February Katie Rebecca McWilliams, infant daughter of Jonathan and Lynette McWilliams, was received into the Church Universal.

The AGM was held on Wednesday, 2nd March and all the reports showed that the congregation was continuing to make steady progress. All the office bearers were re-elected for 2011. The only downside was the fact that there was no resolution to our claim for damages to make good the building work carried out in the period 1999-2000. One of our Trustees, Mr J H Thompson, represented the congregation at the Open Meeting of Trustees and Office bearers in Dromore on Wednesday, 9th March.

The Easter Coffee Morning and Sale, organised by the Ladies, realised £1645. The Ladies continue to support the church through this venture each year. On Friday, 15th April South Down Choral Society once again used the church for the Easter Concert, which included "The Crucifixion" by John Stainer and "The Road to Emmaus" by Francis Boyle. The following week, on Good Friday, the Service of Meditation was based on the events during Holy Week as recorded in Mark's Gospel; the readings were interspersed by hymns and anthems, sung by the choir. In the absence of the Rev Hutton, the Easter Day Service was conducted by the Rev Charles McCurdy.

Attendance at our Spring Communion Service, held on Sunday, 1st May, was below average, largely due to the fact that there were Bank Holidays the previous Friday and following Monday.

On Sunday, 8th May the family and friends of Mr and Mrs David Little were present to witness the baptism of their infant daughter Sophie Sarah May.

The Ladies' Visitors' Night was held on Tuesday, 10th May, when Mr William McAlpine MBE gave an illustrated talk on "Old Newry"; many of the photographs were some of the earliest taken in Newry. Mr McAlpine contrasted these with modern day photographs ? the progress was truly remarkable.

On Sunday, 15th May Caie Warnock, infant son of John and Elaine, was baptised by the Rev Norman Hutton.

Our report ends on a high note, brought to us by the Sunday School; because, despite the fact that numbers are falling, the Sunday School was awarded 3 firsts, 1 second and 2 thirds and the Millennium Cup for the most original entry.

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Since our last report it has been a busy time in the life of our Newry Congregation.

On Friday, 8th October, the Church was the venue for the unveiling of a specially commissioned portrait of John Mitchel and John Martin.

During the service on the following Sunday, Jamie Paul Henning, the infant son of Paul and Stephanie was baptised by the Rev Norman Hutton.

The Rev and Mrs Hutton were on holiday from the 11th to 25th October; during his absence the Rev Charles McCurdy and Mrs Bessie Thompson conducted the services of Sunday 17th and 24th respectively.

Three members of the congregation attended the Centenary Dinner in the Harbour Commissioners' Offices.

The Sunday School continued with their fundraising activities with a Beetle Drive on Wednesday, 27th October. During the supper break the Sunday School presented a cheque for £200 to Miss Leanne Rice of the Southern Hospice Services, this being part of the proceeds of the Sponsored Walk held in Gosford Forest Park in June.

Several of our Ladies and friends from other churches undertook a Refresher Course in Food Safety in Catering ? all were successful and new certificates have been awarded.

As usual our Autumn Communion Service was held on the first Sunday in November. There was an above average attendance but regrettably there were no new communicants. Later that afternoon members travelled to Ballycarry for the 300th Anniversary Service of Ballycarry Meeting House.

Remembrance Sunday this year was held on Sunday, 14th November, and, as usual, the occasion was marked by a special service conducted by our Minister Rev Norman Hutton. Mr Norman Glass laid the poppy wreath on the Second World War Memorial.

Between 23rd and 26th November a number of events were held in Riverside Presbyterian Church to commemorate John Mitchel and John Martin. One of these events was a Lecture and Rev Dr John Nelson enthralled the audience with his talk on Rev John Mitchel and his son.

The first of the winter snows arrived on Sunday, 28th November. This sudden unexpected start to winter resulted in several members being able to get down ungritted roads.

These winter conditions were to continue through December and into January; and it was only thanks to Mr Harry Thompson and his Range Rover that we were able to attend the Presbytery Meeting in Rademon.

On Saturday, 4th December a Service of Thanksgiving and Remembrance was held in the church for the life of Mr George Holmes. George was a former member of the Newry congregation, until he went to reside in Dromore. The Service was conducted by the Moderator, Rt Rev S J Peden, assisted by the Rev Hutton. Internment took place in St Patrick's churchyard after which the ladies catered for the many visitors in the Warnock Hall. The following day, Sunday, 5th December saw a large turnout of the Berry and Waddell families and friends for the Baptism of Alan and Lorraine's first child ? a boy, Alex Joseph Berry. The wintry conditions did not deter many of the congregation travelling to Warrenpoint for the Annual Candlelight Carol Service.

On the third Sunday of Advent, Sunday 12th December, the children of the Sunday School brought presents for the Salvation Army Toy Appeal. Mr Tom Wylie brought these to the local Salvation Army Citadel. Our Carol Service was held on Sunday 19th December. Unfortunately our Organist, Mrs Madge McNellis, was unable to travel from her home in Gilford due to the icy road conditions, and we were extremely grateful that Mrs Florence Berry of our congregation volunteered to play the organ for the singing of the carols. There were also readings by the choir and a play by the Sunday School telling of the "True Meaning of Christmas". It was a busy day for the Sunday School because, prior to the service, they provided refreshments for the congregation. They were splendidly rewarded for all their efforts when Santa Claus arrived with "selection boxes" for every child in the congregation.

We held short services on Christmas Day and on Sunday, 26th December. On those occasions Mr Roland Ankatell presided at the organ as Mrs Madge McNellis was on holiday.

On Thursday, 30th December, the Rev Hutton conducted the Marriage of Mr Niall Farrell from Dublin and Miss Elizabeth Ellen Johannsen from Nampa, Idaho, USA. The Rev Hutton had received a telephone call from Miss Johannsen when he was in Ephesus on holiday; she had seen our church on the Internet and was very impressed with its appearance and its ethos. With the permission of the Session and Committee, Rev Hutton assisted Miss Johannsen with organising her wedding. Sharon Carroll provided music on the harp on the occasion of her wedding. On that day many of the guests were impressed with the building and the history dating back to 1642.

We welcomed in the New Year on Sunday, 2nd January, by giving thanks for all God's blessing in the year just past and prayed for his continued blessing during the New Year.

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The first commandment is this: "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." The second is this: "You must love your neighbour as yourself." No other commandment is greater than these.

Mark 12:29-31

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

2 Corinthians 3:17b