Lisburn Baptist Church is celebrating its 90th birthday this year.
The main weekend of their festivities began with a celebration meal in Grace Hall, Dollingstown, on Friday evening May 27.
The church family enjoyed a delicious meal and fellowship together. There were slides of folk in their younger days and table games organised by John Baird.
Mrs Joan Madden, who with her husband John came to the church almost 60 years ago, remembered the first sermon preached by Pastor Gordon Cardwell in 1972 on Nehemiah 2:18 ‘Let us rise up and build’. “90 years are gone”, she concluded. “We can’t change them. But with year 91 ahead of us, let us rise up and build together.”
Mr John Woolsey, a former church elder, referred briefly to the blessing, beauty and benefits of unity as found in Psalm 133 verse 1.
Over the years the work of the church has not only impacted the local community for good in many ways, but support for missionaries sent out to Europe, Africa and South America has been a vital aspect of the work.
Speaking at the morning Anniversary Service on Sunday 29th May, Pastor Edwin Ewart, principal of the Baptist Training College in Moira, took as his theme “Joyfully giving thanks” from Colossians 1:11.
He emphasised the importance of thanksgiving “directed to God the Father” with one incentive being the “Hope that is based on the solid promise of the death of our Lord Jesus and faith in that finished sacrifice, which is the only thing that God will accept.”
At the evening service led by Peter Spence, Pastor William Colville asked “Why Ninety Years?”
He brought the answer from the New Testament book of John.
“At the heart of everything we do is the Gospel,” he emphasised. “That’s why the church was here to start with.” He stressed that “Without Jesus there is nothing.”
Reflections from previous church pastors were part of the programme, too. Pastor Jim McBratney recalled the “mature, wise and spiritual” elders who were in office when he came. “Men like Joe Murray, Bill Gow, Eddie Thompson, John Woolsey and the late Noel Nicholl. In Desmond Black and Larry Lorimer we had an excellent church secretary and church treasurer.”
Pastor McBratney moved on in 1987 but remembered “the amazing grace of God and goodness to us in those days.”
Noel Spence read Pastor Cardwell’s reflections. He had pastored the church over two periods totalling 21 years and recalled that some 2000 sermons were preached, more than 200 persons baptised, and 120 couples married.
Four of the church’s young people, Caroline Reddick, Kathryn Madden, Evie Thompson and Rebekah Magill delighted the congregation with their beautiful rendering of a song for this special occasion: “Jesus cares for you.”
With the help of Mrs Elizabeth Finn, a new limited edition of “Glimpses of Lisburn Baptist Church in Verse” by Nell Thompson has been published for this Anniversary Year. It brings back many memories of people and occasions in the life of the church since 1984.
Other special events continue throughout the year, the next a Five-Day Club commenced on Monday 13 June in Tonagh and Manor estates.
More details of current services, events and publications may be found at www.lisburnbaptist.com or by using the email address email@example.com