A short history of First Antrim Presbyterian Church.
The Congregation of First Antrim was founded in 1726 with around 90 families and placed under the care of Templepatrick Presbytery. They initially met for worship in the home of one of the members and later in an out building at Masserene Castle. The Masserene family made ground available to lease in Millrow (now Riverside) and it was here that the first Church Building was opened in 1729.
The first minister, the Rev. William Holmes, was ordained in Millrow on the 7th September 1730 where he served until his death in 1750. The original church building was replaced about 1800 and here the congregation worshiped for the next 37 years.
The foundation stone of our present church building was laid on the 9th June 1834 and three years later, to the day, 9th June 1837, it was opened for worship at a total cost of £3000. In 1860 the congregation changed its name from Millrow to First Antrim Presbyterian Church.
In 1929 a decision was taken to build a new manse. A three acre site was purchased on the Greystone Road for £350 and the manse was built at a cost of £2230. In 1932 Dr. J.J. Adams presented a memorial organ in memory of his late father. The organ had a complete overhaul in 1985 at a cost of over £16000. It has now enhanced our worship for 75 years.
The Bruce hall was built in 1882 and extended in 1959. The Majury Hall was built over the existing hall in 1969 and a new frontage added to the halls complex in 1994.
Down the years the congregation has been served by eleven ministers, the most recent having been Rev. Stephen Lockington, with the average length of service 28 years. Two ministries spanned almost a hundred years, the Very Rev. Dr. Thomas West 1867-1919, and the Rev. Dr. Matthew Majury 1920-1961.
One of our elders is a Church-planter in the Philippines with OMF International and has served in that capacity for many years, while the current Directors of OMF Ireland belong to the congregation. Another elder has recently retired from being a full-time worker with Stauros, a Christian organisation that serves people with addictions. Twelve men have entered the Presbyterian ministry in recent years, and over 30 young people have had overseas missionary experience short-term since 1980 and at present a number members are in full-time Bible/Theological College training.
First Antrim has had the distinction of supplying two Moderators to the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Dr. West 1917-17, and Dr. Dixon 1998-1999. Dr. Dixon retired as senior minister of First Antrim in March 2008.
This historical information is gleaned from ‘Hewn from the Rock’ a book by Dr. George Hughes, a long serving member and former Clerk of our Kirk Session.
Click here to read 'Hewn from the Rock'
Illustrations by Sham Simpson.