New Lisburn minister installed via Zoom

History was made recently when over 150 people joined an online Zoom meeting to take part in the installation of a new pastor in Lisburn Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 12:46 pm
Rev Robert M McCollum with his wife Emma and children Jonah (7), Toby (5) and Flynn (2)
Rev Robert M McCollum with his wife Emma and children Jonah (7), Toby (5) and Flynn (2)

Plans had been in motion to hold the installation at an in-person service, however when the NI Executive announced the importance of staying at home where possible to minimise spread of Covid-19 and relieve pressure on hospitals, the decision was taken to conduct the event entirely online.

Never before in the short history of the congregation, nor in the much longer history of the Reformed Presbyterian denomination has an installation ever taken place in this format. Needless to say it was a special night for the Lisburn congregation, receiving their second minister in their thirty-eight year history. Located on the Nettlehill Road on the north side of Lisburn, the church was founded in 1982 by Prof Robert McCollum, who retired from the work in 2018. Ironically, the new pastor is another Robert McCollum, a nephew of his predecessor, and we are pleased to introduce him to the local area.

Introducing himself to his new congregation, Rev McCollum said: “I am a Coleraine man born and bred. Raised on a dairy farm with five brothers and sisters, I had a great upbringing. Without doubt, the most central thing in my life is my faith in Jesus Christ.

“Having been brought up going to church and learning about God, I became a Christian when I was eleven, entrusting my life to the Lord Jesus Christ. Since then, there have been plenty of ups and downs in my life, but God has been the great constant, always good.

“After school I studied Music at Queens, before then training to be a Post-Primary Music teacher, receiving my Post Graduate Certificate in Education. Following that I spent four years in the Reformed Theological College, Belfast, and in 2012, I became a pastor, serving the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Newtownards.

“Along the way, I married my beautiful wife, Emma almost eleven years ago, and together we have three children, Jonah (7), Toby (5) and Flynn (2). Needless to say, life is full and there is never a dull moment!”

Rev McCollum and his family moved to Lisburn at the end of last year and have been settling into life in the city. “when a Lisburn congregation issued a call to me in October 2020, it was something I needed to seriously consider and pray about. Having weighed up all the factors, at the start of December, I accepted Lisburn’s call, and we had the mad experience of moving house exactly a week before Christmas Day.

“High up on our priorities was getting our two older children settled into a local primary school, and purchasing uniforms before non-essential shops closed down! That was before we knew we were going to be home-schooling them for over two months. And that was a challenge. It was difficult for the children to move to a new school, get acquainted with new teachers and new ways of doing things all through a screen. But we have been so impressed with the work and care we’ve seen from school teachers and principals, and our children have adapted tremendously.

Settling into a new home has actually been fine, and we are loving exploring the outdoor spaces and parks Lisburn has to offer.”

Looking to the future at his new church, Rev McCollumn said: “Getting to know the congregation has taken much longer than normal, but even so, my family and I have been made to feel so welcome and we are all looking forwards to becoming much better acquainted with everyone.

“My great hope is to bring a message of comfort and healing to people in this city who are hurting and broken. I may not have all the answers, but I can point to the one who does, Jesus Christ. Every week our services are at 11.30am and 6.30pm (also livestreamed on youtube.com/lisburnrpc). You will find the Bible opened up and simply explained.

“We would love to welcome visitors to our services and encourage you, if interested, to get in touch with us by email ([email protected]) or Facebook (facebook.com/lisburnrpc) or by visiting our website (lisburn.rpc.org).”