The dedication and consecration of the new St Hilda’s Parish Church, Dunmurry, by the Bishop of Connor on Sunday May 18 drew a capacity crowd.
Among the guests were the Mayor of Lisburn, Councillor Margaret Tolerton, and
Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson.
The original building for the parish of St Hilda, a dual purpose church and hall, was dedicated in May 1958 as a daughter church of St Colman’s, Dunmurry. With the expansion of the parish a new separate church building was consecrated in December 1970.
By 2005 it had become apparent that the buildings needed to be upgraded and repaired and a roof appeal got underway in 2008, raising £40,000.
A year later the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, put St Hilda’s in contact with a developer interested in building a nursing home on the site and
offering to build a new church and hall in return.
Agreement was reached in 2011 but subsequent delays meant the parish
was ‘homeless’ for three years, with services being held in a mobile at the primary school next door.
Parishioners have just moved into their new home, a modern, user-friendly building suitable for emerging outreach ministries. As well as the church, it includes offices, a prayer room, a hall with high ceilings suitable for all forms of activities and a minor hall.
There is also a small café which will be run by the parish, providing a focal point for the local community to meet for tea or coffee and a chat.
The rector, the Rev David Boyland, said: “The development, whilst benefiting the church directly, will also make a very significant impact on the overall community.
The cost of the project is in the region of £5.3 million.
“During the construction phase there have been a significant number of jobs created with permanent jobs coming on stream with the imminent completion of the nursing home. This has and will continue give a great boost, in an area that has very high unemployment.
“The Nursing Home will provide 76 beds that are greatly needed in an area with an ageing population.”
David continued: “Our vision for the new church and hall is that it will be a blessing to the whole community as they come in and experience the love and healing power of Christ as we seek to serve them.”
At the beginning of the service, Bishop Abernethy knocked on the doors of the
Church asking that the door be opened, and marked the threshold with the sign of the cross with the pastoral staff as he entered.
Following the service, refreshments were served in the spacious hall on the first floor.