On Sunday evening the 21st August we had a farewell service for Stuart and his family. Following the service we had supper which gave the Hawthorne family the opportunity to say their personal goodbyes.

As a church family we now move into vacancy mode and the Armagh Presbytery have appointed Rev Robin Brown as our convenor to facilitate the process of selecting and calling a new minister to our Church Family.

We will greatly miss the Hawthorne Family as they make their move to Carnmoney Presbyterian and wish them every blessing for the future as they follow God’s will.

In October 2017 Colin Neil wrote an article for the Connect Magazine which we also included on the church website and we feel it appropriate to include this article again with some revised details.

The View from the Pew 

(Article originally written by Colin Neill for the Oct 2017 Connect magazine)

There’s an untrue story going about: ‘Waringstown Presbyterian Church is vacant.’  What is correct is that WPC currently has no Minister: Stuart Hawthorne moved on at the end of August to Carnmoney Presbyterian. We’ll miss Stuart and his family much and wish them every blessing for the future.

That means that in the language of the Presbyterian Church, the clunking label of ‘vacant’ gets attached to WPC. Language demands that some word or other is used to describe being without a Minister, but ‘vacant’ is unfortunate, given how it throws up definitions such as empty, void or having neither use or purpose.

Think of a vacant building and you’ll imagine an unused retail unit that’s dilapidated and an eyesore. Think of a vacant person and it brings to mind images of sadness: extreme old age; depression; or some experience of trauma. Who wants to be vacant?

The fantastic reality is that WPC is categorically not vacant! We’re not vacant because we have the Word of God: God breathed Scripture that guides us and inspires us and leads us into the truest understanding of ourselves and life that we can ever know.

We’re not vacant because we have in our church the Spirit of God, a real and present wind that blows the vitality and life of God into all we do as a church family.

And we’re not vacant because we have the love of God, shown to us in the remarkable sacrifice of Jesus’ life, that tells us every person is of unsurpassable worth and value to God, and inspires us to a love for one another whereby we seek to carry each other, whatever life throws at us.

WPC is between Ministers, and you can call that many things, but with God’s Word, God’s Spirit and God’s love we are never vacant.

It’s our hope and prayer that you’ll want to come join us and learn something of the God we love in WPC: God who promises life in place of emptiness and fullness in place of vacancy.


Colin Neill

Colin is married to Claire and Dad to Matt and Suzy, and works for Invest NI. He’s been a member of WPC for 20 years and is a Presbyterian Accredited Preacher.