The congregation of Lisburn Free Presbyterian Church celebrated 40 years of faithful ministry by Dr. John Douglas, Senior Minister of the congregation last Friday night (January 22).
A banquet was held in the Lagan Valley Island Centre in honour of the Lord’s servant whose ministry has impacted on many lives over these 40 years ministering not only in the borough of Lisburn but also further afield.
The event was attended by the Mayor of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council Councilor Thomas Beckett and the Mayoress Mrs. Linda Beckett.
The Mayor presented Dr.Douglas with a suitably inscribed gift to mark the occasion remarking on the significance of such a long ministry and of the evident affection still among the people toward him after such a long association.
When Dr. Douglas accepted the call as minister of what was then known as Ballymacash Free Presbyterian Church it was a decision which had far reaching consequences.
The little congregation meeting on the Ballymacash Road in Lisburn had just been in existence for seven and a half years being formed as a result of a Gospel Tent Mission conducted by the late Dr. Ian Paisley and Rev William Beattie during the month of June 1968.
Rev. Beattie was appointed Interim Moderator of the congregation that had humble beginnings first meeting in a temporary wooden hall and then building a permanent meeting house on the same site which was opened on 21st October 1972.
Dr. Douglas was the minister of Moneyslane Free Presbyterian Church which was formed as a result of approaches made to him when conducting meetings in that area. The decision to leave a settled congregation formed through his ministry and move to minister in Lisburn was a very momentous one for both congregations and the growth of the work in Lisburn over the years is evidence of the seal of God on that decision.
The congregation which commenced on the Ballymacash Road still continues to flourish under the ministry of Rev Thomas Martin and now meets in another new building situated at Windermere Road Lisburn in the same area where the work began.
Rev Thomas Martin was ordained as Minister in December 1998 and is responsible for the pulpit ministry and the pastoral care of the congregation while Dr. Douglas who upon retirement no longer exercises regular pastoral duties.
Although not exercising regular ministry Dr. Douglas is still very much in demand as a speaker in many of the Free Presbyterian Churches and further afield with invitations to minister at weeks of special meetings across England and a diary well booked for the future.
It was a very fitting tribute to Dr. Douglas that several young men who sat under his ministry in Lisburn and having been called of God themselves to go into the Christian ministry were able to be in attendance with their wives.
As well as many tributes from the people in attendance the grandchildren of Dr. and Mrs. Douglas sang with other items in song by The Male Testimony Choir of the congregation Rev. Raymond McLernon and his wife who were in membership of the congregation during the early years of Dr. Douglas ministry also sang accompanied by family members. Presentations were made to Dr. and Mrs. Douglas to mark the happy event .
Flowers were presented to Mrs. Douglas and to the Mayoress and suitably inscribed copy of the scriptures was presented to the Mayor and Mayoress by Rev Thomas Martin minister of the congregation.