About The Presbyterian Church
Irish Presbyterianism had its origins in Scottish migrations to Ulster in the early seventeenth century. The first presbytery was formed in 1642 by chaplains of a Scottish army which had come to Ireland because of an Irish Catholic rebellion. In spite of this and later Catholic uprisings and the hostility of the established Anglican Church, Presbyterianism put down strong roots in Ireland before the end of the seventeenth century.
In the eighteenth century it was weakened by emigration to colonial America and by division over subscription to the Westminster formularies, which encouraged Scottish Convenanters and Seceders to form congregations and presbyteries in Ulster. The restoration of subscription in 1835 led to union with the Seceders to form the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
Today the Irish Presbyterian Church, which is a founder member of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, has over 560 congregations in 21 presbyteries throughout Ireland with over 300,000 members. The Church has been much involved in education, evangelism, social service and world mission in India, China, the Middle East, Jamaica, Africa, Indonesia, Nepal and Brazil.
In our Christian worship, the preaching of the Word of God is central, in a setting of prayer and praise. There is no fixed liturgy. Prayers and hymns, psalms and paraphrases, Scripture reading and sermon are adapted to the needs of the occasion.
The word 'Presbyterian' describes the form of our Church government which emphasises the individual and corporate responsibility of members. Ministers and members must share in the organising and running of every aspect of the Church's work. Locally this means the provision of worship and teaching along with pastoral care while the corporate work of the Church involves social action, evangelism, mission at home and overseas, training of ministers and working with young people and children.
The best test of our Church and its members lies in what their faith compels them to do for others, not just what has been done for them as individuals. The King and Head of the Church loved us and gave Himself for us so that we should no longer live for ourselves. We are called to service.
The Church's administrative centre is in Church House, Fisherwick Place, Belfast and the present General Secretary is the Rev. Dr. Donald Watts.
History of Waringstown Presbyterian Church
In the 1840’s the growth of Presbyterian families in the Waringstown area was such that the need for a meeting house in the village was increasingly felt. The first Waringstown congregation met in Murray house (on the Banbridge road) moving to the nearby mill loft with a seating capacity of 200, as numbers grew.
The Reverend Michael McMurray was ordained in the mill loft by the Presbytery as the first minister on the 15th March 1848 and what was needed now was a permanent church building. The foundation stone of the new building was laid in the summer of 1851 on the Mill Hill in the townland of Tullyherron and by June 1853 the church was ready and open for worship.
Twenty years later, a visitation of Presbytery found a flourishing congregation, with all it’s buildings in excellent order and completely free of debt. The healthy state of the church was in a large part due to the dedication of two men – the Reverend Michael McMurray and Mr John Henning, who by his business acumen and generosity had helped to bring the Waringstown congregation through the potential problems of it’s first years.
Since that time, building on the firm spiritual foundations laid, the congregation has continued to be blessed with a faithful gospel proclaiming and expository ministry.
In more recent years, the Reverend Cecil Craig ministered faithfully for 32 years (1950-1982) and was succeeded by the Reverend David Johnston (1983-1994). Many building projects were carried out in Mr Johnston’s time, including the re-roofing and total interior refurbishment of the meeting house. In 1993 the building of the Craig Hall and Forum was completed and officially opened at a memorable service of Harvest Thanksgiving at which Noel Trendinnick (All Souls, London) led the worship and praise.
The Reverend Philip McConnell was installed in April 1995 and under whose ministry the Church family continued to grow. In 1999 it was necessary to introduce a second morning service to accommodate this growth. Philip McConnell was succeeded by our current minister, the Reverend Philip Thompson in November 2011.
Approximately 375 families are now connected to the fellowship and the Congregation is drawn, not only from the immediate community, but also from towns further a field such as Donacloney, Banbridge, Magheralin, Moira, Lurgan and Portadown.
Recently land has been purchased to provide the option of relocating to larger premises to accommodate the needs of a growing church family.