Glenavy Methodist Church

Methodist Church 1830s

The following extract is from "Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland – Parishes of County Antrim VII 1832 – 1838". Thanks to The Institute of Irish Studies, The Queen’s University of Belfast for permission to use this extract.

Glenavy – Religion

The Methodist clergyman (who preaches in the Methodist meeting house in the village of Glenavy) is partly supported by his flock and by a certain salary and allowance for a horse and for each child, which he receives from the Methodist Society.

Glenavy – Public Buildings

It contains a church and a Methodist meeting House.. The meeting house, erected in 1836, the expenses defrayed by general subscription, cost 100 pounds. There are 30 seats, would contain 90 persons, dimensions 33 by 23, supported by collections made every preaching night. It is an exceeding plain building much out of repair.

The memoirs also state:

The Methodist preaching house was erected in 1830 at a cost of 100 pounds, defrayed by subscription. It is a perfectly plain building measuring 33 by 23 feet and containing accommodation for 100 persons. It is situated near the centre of the village.

From "A History of Methodism in Ireland…"

The following are extracts from "A History of Methodism in Ireland – Wesley and His Times" by C.H. Crookshank, M.A. 1885.

Volume 1 — Chapter XL — 1789

At Lisburn the evangelist preached in what he calls the new chapel, but in reality was the old one which had been enlarged and improved through the liberality of Mr. Johnson. It is described by Wesley as the largest and best furnished preaching-house in the north of Ireland. Amongst those present at the service was Mr. Thomas Collier(*) Who was then to give his heart to God. He afterwards settled in Ballynacoy, where his house became a centre of religious light in what was then a very dark and benighted district of country.

(*) grandfather of the Rev S James and Robert Collier

Volume 3 — Chapter IV — 1823

There was a blessed revival of religion in the district of country about Ballynacoy, and many became anxious about salvation, and united themselves to the people of God.

Chapter XI — 1830

The Rev. Adam Averall travelled much through the kingdom, and says he found “the work going on well everywhere, and the preachers more than ever sanguine and zealous.” During these yours he opened several Primitive Wesleyan chapels, including those at Maghon, Scotchstreet, Strabane and Glenavy. The last mentioned building was erected through the efforts and liberality of Mr. John Moore Johnston, who about eight years previously, on his brother Philip becoming a Methodist, was invited by him to a love feast at Moira, and most favourably impressed with what he heard. Our years later another opportunity was afforded him of hearing a Methodist preacher, and then he invited the iterant to his house at Glenavy, as one of his regular stopping-places. A class was soon formed, of which Mr. Johnston became a member, and two of the Antrim leaders met it in turns, each alternate Sunday. These services were greatly blessed, and the number of members increased rapidly. Then a Sunday-school was formed, and as the place became too straitened, a preaching house was erected. Mr. Johnston brought up his family in the fear of the Lord and in loving union with Methodism, so that they have been, ever since its introduction, the chief support of the cause in the village.

Chapter XVI — 1835

On the Lisburn circuit an extensive religious awakening took place, more especially in the neighbourhood of Ballynacoy, through the Divine blessing on the labour of the Rev. William Bickerdike, a minister of the Primitive Methodists. Such crowds attended the services that no house available could accommodate them, therefore many of the meetings were held in the open air, and scores of persons were converted to God. Mr. John Collier, although a Wesleyan, invited the preacher to his house, and was cheered by seeing led to the Saviour several of his children, including his son James, then a young man of seventeen. One evening before service he went into the garden and prayed earnestly that if there were anything in religion he did not know, the Lord would show it to him that night. During the meeting the word was applied with power to his heart, he saw clearly his state as a sinner, and at the after service responded to an invitation to the penitents to go to another room, where he was enabled to see Jesus as his Saviour, and rejoice in a conscious sense of acceptance with God. The preacher then called on the young convert to pray, and he said very earnestly, “O Lord, convert every person in this room.” He soon began to work for Christ, thus entering upon a course of labourious and successful service.

Chapter XVIII — 1836

Mr. George Stewart, who was appointed to Lisburn and Antrim, states, "This mission, with the exception of the town of Antrim, continues in a state of growing prosperity. During the last quarter we have formed for new classes, besides having obtained six additional leaders. Our March quarterly meetings were greatly acknowledged of the Lord. The meeting at Glenavy exceeded anything of the kind ever witnessed in that town previously. – many souls were made happy in God. Amongst the converts on this mission are some who were one Socinians. One of these related his experiences at the Glenavy meeting, and the effect was powerful while, with streaming eyes, he exclaimed "The Lord Jesus has saved my soul from double darkness" …

… (At the close of 1835) … Mr. John Buttle writes … At Glenavy also the Lord poured out His Holy Spirit, and we had more than forty penitents, seeking redemption through the blood of the Lamb." …

Chapter XXVII — 1846

The little Society of Crumlin received a most valuable addition in Mr. James Johnston (a son of Mr. William Johnson -ref. Vide 2 pg 269 – of Antrim) who having served his apprenticeship his elder brother, Alexander, and married Miss Eliza Thompson of Ardmore, settled in the town. Here he not only entered on a successful business career, but also an enlarged sphere of Christian usefulness, in which he proved a loving and devoted husband, an affectionate and faithful father, and a true friend. His house was opened for the preachers, and they were ever cordially welcomed and hospitably entertained. Each Sabbath he travelled to Antrim, a distance of seven miles, with great regularity, in order to attend the services of the Methodist Church, until Glenavy, which was more convenient, became part of the circuit. He was an earnest and profitable local preacher, whose ministrations were always welcomed by the congregations, and for many years he sustained with great efficiency and acceptance the office of circuit steward, attending most faithfully to every detail of his work. (Irish Christian Advocate, 1884, pg. 420)

Chapter XXIX — 1848

… "On the Glenavy mission a considerable number of souls, within a few months, had sought and found pardoning mercy in Christ …"

… Concerning Antrim and Glenavy Mr. Robert Kerr reports, "In nearly all the principal, preaching places on this mission I have had a steady increase in our congregations; in one district they have more than trebled, and our Sunday-school at Glenavy has been nearly doubled." (Primitive Wesleyan Methodist Magazine, 1848, p.p. 456 – 59)

Chapter XXX — 1849

… 2 deaths occurred in the ranks of the itinerants – those of Edward Addy of Glenavy and John Buttle of Newtownbarry, each of whom had rendered long and valuable service to the good cause …

Mrs Edward Addy

The following extract is from The Lisburn Standard dated Saturday, October, 29th 1887.

Death of Mrs. Edward Addy

With sincere regret we announce to-day the death of Mrs. Addy, relict of the late Rev. Edward Addy, Primitive Wesleyan Minister. At the very first conference of the Primitive Wesleyan Ministers, held at Clones in 1816, Mr. Addy was appointed to the Cookstown Circuit. Upon his retirement from active service, some thirty years afterwards, he settled in Glenavy, where he continued to reside until his decease in 1848. Some time after the death of her husband, Mrs. Addy removed with her family to Belfast, but for several years past she resided with her son-in-law, Dr. R.E. Hayes, M.D., Railway Street, Lisburn, where both skill and affection ministers to the comfort of her declining years, and tended to prolong her life. Mrs. Addy was much beloved by the members of her immediate family; and she was affectionately esteemed by a select circle of acquaintances for the warmth and sincerity of her friendships, and for her genuine and consistent piety. She was satisfied with long life, having almost reached the age of fourscore years and ten, but she retained the vigour and clearness of her mental faculties until within a few hours of her decease. A little before midnight on Sunday, the 23rd inst, she calmly expired, and on the following Wednesday morning her remains were interred in the new Borough Cemetery, Belfast. The funeral was private.

The following is from a headstone located at Belfast City Cemetery:

Headstone of Rev Edward Addy

Headstone of Rev Edward Addy

In memory of the Rev. Edward Addy died 4th August 1848 (interred in Muckamore Churchyard).

Mary Lewis his wife died 23rd October 1887, John J L Addy his son died 4th March 1875, Edward J L Addy, his grandson died 16th February 1875, Robert Thompson Addy, his grandson died 24 May 1875, Edward J L Addy, his son died 19th September, 1892, Sarah Jane wife the above EJL Addy died 11th December, 1913.

Cherryvalley hosts Annual School Excursion

The following is an extract from the Lisburn Standard Saturday September 21st 1889

Glenavy Methodist Sunday-school.

The annual excursion of the above school has just taken place, and passed off successfully. Cherryvalley Crumlin, kindly placed at the disposal of the party for the day by the owner, Mr. J.H. McConnell, was the place selected for the occasion. the children were conveyed thither by cars, many of which were generously lent by members of the congregation. The procession formed at the Methodist church, Glenavy and was headed by the very efficient Glenavy Flute Band.

As the weather was rather unfavourable for outdoor sports, the large granary at Cherryvalley was cleared, and here children and their friends took part in various games and amusements. Great interest was taken in the competition for prizes, most of which were presented by Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, of The Laurels, and by Miss Johnston, the superintendent of the school. Ample refreshments were supplied to the scholars and band, while the teachers and a few other friends accepted a kind and pressing invitation to tea from Mr. and Mrs. McConnell.

About six p.m. the procession reformed for home, but before starting, on the motion of the Rev. H.N. Kevin, seconded by Mr. Wm. McKeown, a cordial vote of thanks was passed to Mr. and Mrs. McConnell for throwing open their beautiful grounds to the party, and for their great kindness on the occasion. The return journey was safely and pleasantly made,
and all separated greatly please with the day’s enjoyment.

Annual Home Missionary Meeting & Harvest Thanksgiving

The following is an extract from The Lisburn Standard – Saturday, November 15th 1890

Glenavy Methodist Church

The annual home missionary meeting and harvest thanksgiving service has just been held in the Methodist Church, Glenavy – Mr. T.P. McDowell, of Belfast, presiding. The church was beautifully decorated for the occasion by Miss Downer and the Misses Wilson with flowers and fruit. The report was read by Rev. H.N. Kevin, and able and interesting addresses were delivered by Revs. J.D. Lamont, Robert Orr, C.H. Crookshank, and the chairman. Two harvest thanksgiving anthems were sung by the choir, a solo was rendered by Miss Sarah Thompson, and a duet by Mrs. Kevin and Miss Westerman. Miss Downer presided with efficiency at the harmonium. The collection amounted to £21, which was fully twenty-fiver per cent, over that of the previous year. On the motion of Mr. E.J. Johnson, a cordial vote of thanks was accorded to the speakers, choir, decorators, and the chairman. Altogether, the meeting was probably the largest and most successful one of the sort over held in Glenavy.

Methodism in Glenavy

The following is an extract from "Glenavy Past and Present" by Rev. Charles Watson in 1892.


IN 1747, on the invitation of Williams, the first of Wesley’s preachers, John Wesley himself came to Ireland, and preached in St. Mary’s, Dublin. Thus Methodism began in Ireland. When it gained a footing in Glenavy is uncertain, but the old preaching house, now used for a Sunday-school, bears date 1826. Previous to the incumbency of the Rev. Edward Johnson-Smythe, only a morning service was held in the Parish Church. In the evening a service was held by the Methodists in their chapel at five o’clock. Prior to the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, in 1870, they were Primitive or Church Methodists. In 1878 they elected to join the Wesleyan Society. A comfortable residence for their minister, called the Manse, was purchased in 1885, and during the present year an extremely neat building has been erected as a house of worship, at a cost of £1,500, seating 140 persons. It was opened for public worship on June 18. The Glenavy Methodists are most generous in their support of Missions, especially the Home Mission. According to the census of 1891 the number of Methodists were :- Glenavy 106 ; Camlin, 32 ; Tullyrusk, 4 : total in the Union, 142

The minister in charge is manager of Legateriffe National School. The number of Sunday-school children on the rolls of their three schools is 190, but the larger proportion of these cannot be Methodists, seeing that the total number of Methodists in the large parishes of Glenavy Union, Ballinderry, and Killead amounts only, all told, to 279. In these parishes the numbers of the Church of Ireland are 2,684 ; of Presbyterians, 985 ; of Roman Catholics, 2,278. Service is held in the Methodist chapel at 11a.m. and 6p.m. on Sundays, and at 7p.m. on Wednesday evenings. The minister in charge at present is the Rev. W. J. Christie.

Methodist Church 1892

Extract from The Lisburn Standard – Saturday 25th June, 1892.

Opening of New Methodist Church at Glenavy

The new church which for some time has been in the process of erection at Glenavy was dedicated to the worship of God on Saturday afternoon. The church is built of brick, and is in Gothic style of architecture. Mr. J.J. Phillips, Belfast, was the architect, and Mr. Caldwell, builder, and both seem to have performed their respective duties very satisfactorily. The church has an exceedingly neat and chaste appearance, and has cost about £1500. It was stated, too, that the whole of this amount, with the exception of £150, was obtained, and there is little doubt that this balance will be forthcoming as the result of the dedicatory services. Glenavy is one of the most prettily situated villages in Ulster, and this new edifice is not only a credit to Methodism, but an ornament to the village and neighbourhood. There was a very large attendance on Saturday evening. Availing themselves of the fine weather, not only did the people from the neighbourhood around flock in to the service, but a very large number of friends from Belfast and several members of the Conference took advantage of the railway facilities afforded and attended the ceremony. A large party also had driven over from Larne, and many came from Lisburn and Antrim. Among those present were -Revs. T.B. Stephenson, D.D. (president of the Conference); Edward Best, of New Zealand; R. Butler; W.J. Christie, H.N. Kevin, R.Cole, J.W.A. Mc William, S.Smyth, Robert Orr, P.E. Donevan; with Messrs. W.Carty, W.J. Greenhill, J. McCutcheon, W.M.Scott, A. Mathews, A.E. McCreary, S. Thompson, John Moore, James Collier, E.J. Johnson, T.P. McDowell, John Knox, W.J. Knox, Thomas McRoberts, Wm. McRoberts, J.F. Thompson,H, Thompson, A. peel, Wm. Ingram, Rev. R.C. Johnson, Rev. James Wherry, &. Rev. Edward Best opened the proceedings by giving out the hymn, "O, God accept the gift," &c., and by leading in prayer. Rev. Richard Butler read Isaiah vi., and the choir, under the leadership of Mr. E.J. McCreery, splendidly rendered the anthem, "O, for a closer walk," &c.Rev. Mr. Stephenson then read Peter 1st, and afterwards chose for his text 1st Peter,I., 3,4,5, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," &c., and from these words he preached an eloquent and powerful sermon. He said the text brought before them not only the trunk but the root and the fruit of regeneration. He explained what regeneration meant, and he illustrated it by a reference to two men, the one stolid and the other mercurial. He showed that the regeneration did not mean the alteration of the dispositions of these men, but the sanctifying of them. He gave a beautiful and very exhaustive exposition of the passage, dwelling with particular force on the words "abundant," "incorruptible," "undefiled," and "ready to be revealed." He also added that the word "salvation" was, with the exception of the word "God", the greatest word that ever fell from human lips. Many of his sentences were very fine, and deserve to be treasured up in the memory and not soon forgotten. His statements about the unsatisfactory character of human riches evidently made a deep impression. The President has a fine voice, and altogether he was listened to with deep attention and interest. At the close of the sermon a collection was taken up, and a considerable sum was realised for the building fund. The opening services were continue on Sunday, when Rev. Wesley Guard preached morning and evening eloquent sermons to good congregations, and special collections were also taken up.

Band of Hope

The following is an extract from the Lisburn Standard Saturday 16th June 1894.

Glenavy Methodist Band of Hope

The concluding meeting of the band of Hope for this session was held in the church on Wednesday evening, June 6th, Rev. W.J. Christie presiding. There was a very large and appreciative audience, and, although admission was by ticket, the house was crowded to the door, the aisles being literally packed, many having to remain standing. Amongst those present were the Rev. Robert McBride, Presbyterian Minister, Dundrod; Rev. H.K. Mumford, Moravian Minister, Lower Ballinderry; and Rev. R. Butler, Antrim, each of whom delivered short addresses. The report presented by the secretary Mr. W.J. McKeown, showed that the session had been very successful. In all, eight meetings have been held, at six of which silver medals had been competed for, and as a result of these competitions, a great impetus has been given to temperance work here; sixty names having been added to the register bringing the number of actual present up to 106. On the programme for the evening the principal item was a competition for a Demorest gold medal, in which the following members, who are all silver medallists, took part – viz., Mr John Mawhinney, Mr. Willie Moore, Miss Maria Millar, Miss Sarah Millar, Miss Jenny Wickliffe, Mr. David Robinson and Miss Lizzie Green. The judges, Messrs. Mcbride, Mumford and Butler, had a most difficult task, so perfect were the recitations in every case. The medal, however was awarded to Miss Jenny Wickliffe; and second and third prizes (being books) to Miss Maria Millar and Miss Lizzie Green respectively. Concerted piano, cello and violins was rendered at intervals by Rev. J. Porteus and family of Lisburn; Mr. Tom Porteus rendering "Home, Sweet Home," with variations (by Farmer), being especially fine. After an expression of thanks to the speakers and musicians of the evening, and to the junior committee, who had worked so heartily from the commencement of the session, a most enjoyable evening was brought to a close in the usual manner.

Annual Report, 1897

The following is an extract from The Methodist Church Antrim & Glenavy Circuit Annual Report for the year ending 1897.

Ministers Rev. Henry Shire & rev. J.W.A. MacWilliam

Local Preachers – Mr. Ed. J. Johnson & Mr. Thomas Lewis

Circuit Steward: Mr. Ed. J. Johnson

Chapel Stewards: Mr. A. Cowdy, Antrim, Mr. Wm. Ingram, Glenavy, Miss Stevenson, Randalstown

Pew Stewards: Mr. W.J. Lowry, Antrim, Mr. Arthur Peel, Glenavy

Stewards of the Poor’s fund: Mr. David Weir, Antrim, Mr David Wilson, Glenavy

Sunday School Superintendents:
Mr. Wm. Cooper, Antrim
Mr. Ed. J. Johnson, Crumlin
Miss Johnston, Glenavy
Mr. W.S. Thompson, Ardmore
M.J.K. Addison, Legateriffe

Secretary Quarterly Leader’ Meeting:
Mr. Isaac McQ. Gilbert, Marymount

Financial Income:


Quarter age £80 11 00
Pew rents £20 02 06
Quarterly Collection £6 11 00
Special Subscriptions £1 04 00
Rent of Meadows £7 10 00
Sabbath Collections £26 10 09
Total    £141 19 03

Expenditure Glenavy

Chapel Steward’s Expenses £14 00 2½
House Rent & taxes £1 00 00
Furniture & repairs £11 15 00

Quarterage 1897

Classes Leaders amount
Crumlin Mr E J Johnson 32 00 00
Ardmore Mr Henry Thompson 17 00 00
Glenavy Mr John Moore 18 09 00
Bridge End Mr Thos. Thompson 01 04 00
Largy 01 17 06
Knockcairn Rev. JWA MacWilliam 00 12 06
Derrychrine Mr Wm. Ingram 04 08 00
Ballynacoy Mr. James Collier 05 00 00

The following entry appears in the 1885 records:

"Glenavy Manse Purchase £500. Entire amount paid."

The following entry appears in the 1892 records:

"The old primitive W. chapel is now used as a school house under the National Board of Education."

The following appears in 1898 records:

"The old P.W. Chapel is used as a school under the National Board of Education . Legatirriff School House is used for day school and Sunday school purposes. Also for Sunday afternoons and week night services."

Band of Hope

The following is an extract from The Lisburn Herald dated January 1st 1898

Glenavy Band of Hope.

A meeting of the above Band of Hope was held in the Methodist Church on Wednesday evening, 29th December, Rev. Robert Mc Bride Presbyterian minister, Dundrod presided. There was a good attendance. Mr. Glasgow, deputation from the Irish Temperance League, delivered a most interesting lecture, entitled, "A Choice Young Man." Mr. W.J. Robinson contributed a recitation, entitled "The Fugitive Slave" and Mr. William Sherlock, Crumlin, a reading in his usual impressive style, entitled, "Barney Murphy’s Brother." Rev. R McBride and Rev. J.W. MacWilliam also addressed the meeting, urging the claims and necessity for total abstinence. Miss Baskin, Dublin kindly presided at the harmonium with her usual ability. A good collection was taken on behalf of the Irish Temperance League. A hearty vote of thanks was accorded to the worthy chairman at the close.

Public Meeting – Home Missions

The following extract is from the Lisburn Herald dated 29th October 1898.

Glenavy Notes

The annual public meeting in connection with Home Missions was held in the Methodist Church on Monday evening, Mr. E.J. Johnson, Crumlin presiding, Rev. J. W. MacWilliam read the annual report, dwelling on the items in connection with this circuit. Able addresses were given during the evening, and the interest of the audience was manifested in a liberal response when the collection was taken on behalf of the Mission, which amounted to £24.

The usual meeting of Star of Hope I.O.G.T., No 64 was held on Tuesday evening. After the usual business was disposed of the nomination and election of officers for the ensuing quarter took place.

Glenavy Methodist Church, early 1900s postcard

An early 20th century postcard
depicting Glenavy Methodist Church
by Coon

Exploring Methodism in Glenavy
by The Digger

Methodist Sunday School excursion in 1925

At the conclusion of a local Methodist Sunday School excursion in 1925 to Killultagh "the little ones" were treated to sweets, gingerbread and pears. This photograph, depicting a similar event, is from that era and was amongst the family collection of the McKeown family who originally resided in Glenavy

Methodism in Glenavy village turned a new chapter in the history books when the new hall, complete with modern facilities, was dedicated on September 12 2009.

The following March I was permitted to visit the church and examine a number of historical artefacts on display in the building. I collected a church member and we travelled out to the church together. On the way I remarked favourably on my companion’s etiquette, as he removed his cap promptly as a mark of respect when a funeral procession passed us by. Coincidentally, it was the last earthly journey of the wife of a former local Methodist minister.

On arrival at the church and new hall I was pleased to see that the original date stone, bearing the inscription “Primitive Wesleyan Methodist Preaching-House A.D. MDCCCXXX” had been retained, restored and mounted in the front wall of the new hall.

In the early part of the 19th century the Johnston family had purchased a substantial amount of land in the Glenavy area from Doherty Gorman. A member of the family, John Moore Johnston born in 1799, was introduced to Methodism whilst in his early twenties.   Read More »

Glenavy Methodist Church, Sunday School Prize, 1914

Prize label from 1914

Prize label from 1914

Methodist Church 1923

The following article is the sixth in a series of seven titled "Glenavy" written by William McLeavy. The articles originally appeared in The Lisburn Herald in 1923. Please note that some of the original articles were unreadable.

The Lisburn Herald, Saturday June 16th 1923

No greater antithesis by way of contrast could possibly exist than that of the Methodist Church and the Church of my previous article. Here there is no State aid, no landlord endowments, no wealthy philanthropist to found a church, not even a sympathetic community to countenance the cause. From the day the founder of Methodism threw all the shackles of Ecclesiastical bondage and bland traditions with his loud trumpet call, "The world is my parish," embracing all humanity in a common brotherhood, calling them to be partakers in a Heavenly partnership, this church has despised and often held up to derision as having no ordination authority, her sacraments and baptism invalid; even so far the only credentials are designated as what a collar and tie constitute. Yet today this Church resembles much the grain of mustard seed which grew into a great tree, in the branches thereof the fowls of the air lodged. By the lofty and inspiring idealism of one man to a single aim and purpose a mighty Church is created and founded, numerically, one of the largest Protestant denominations in the world. The tenents and principles of Methodism hold that the Christian Church by virtue of its name and constitution must live and act independent of the State. The State has to act by inflicting pains and penalties , whereas the Church appeals solely to the man’s conscience, heart and will. Long centuries of experience have demonstrated that the Church becomes crippled and corrupted in proportion as it leans on the arm of flesh and invokes the civil power. Christianity prevailed not by killing but by dying. No pages in history are so dark and dreadful as the records of religious persecutions. The origin and growth of Methodism in Glenavy is most interesting. A Mr William Johnston, descendant of an ancient Scottish family, came over to Ballynahinch, Co.Down, in the reign of James 1. He was a member of the Church of England and brought up his children in the same principles which he himself professed. His son, John Moore Johnston, came to reside at Glenavy and settled down there. A Mr. J. Ross, a Primitive Wesleyan Methodist Mission preacher, was appointed to the Antrim Station in the year 1826. Mr Johnston went to hear him preach and became so much impressed with doctrines which he taught that his whole vision and outlook became changed and that he had found a more excellent way, so that he at once decided to throw in his lot with this humble sect, becoming a member, opening up his house for preaching and class meetings and ultimately resolved to build a house for public worship, giving a portion of his garden as a site for the building. The preacher had his doubts of the wisdom of this undertaking as to where the funds would come from and in reply he was asked "If he ever saw a house commenced for the worship of God and never finished for want of money?" There being no Sunday School in the village Mr. Johnston soon got one formed acting as superintendent and teacher, and in a short time it was well attended. In the year 1830 the preaching house, which he was so instrumental in erecting, was opened by Revd. Adam Averell. But to the universal sorrow of the village and surrounding neighbourhood and great loss to Glenavy Methodism Mr. Johnston passed away on 8th May, 1848, the living honouring him by one of the most respectable and representative funerals ever seen in Glenavy. However, the cause did not suffer by his death but was fostered and well maintained in all its Christian activities by his daughters, Mrs. This. S. Downer, and the present Miss Mary E. Johnston, to whom also Methodism owes much for their unselfish devotion, interest and loyalty. The former died a few years ago, while the latter, although passed fourscore years, is still able to take part in the services of the sanctuary, maintaining an interest in the work of the Church, especially the Sunday School, in which she took a prominent lead throughout life. For many years the growth of Methodism was slow but steady. After the rearrangement and division of the Lisburn Circuit it was found necessary to build a new and larger church, the foundation stones of which were laid in the year 1891. The following inscription appears: "The stone laid by Mrs. Henry Thompson and Miss Johnston in front of this building are intended to perpetuate the memory of their parents Mr. And Mrs. John Moore Johnston who were the means of bringing Methodism to Glenavy about the year 1826." On the foundation stone is recorded "This stone is laid by Mr. John Kelly, Belfast father of the present Sir Samuel Kelly, whom Glenavy always found a true and kind friend." Following this line further , an uncle of his named Thomas Kelly, who remained in the old ancestral home at Crewe Hill, was a member of this church, and his son, Wesley Kelly, became a Congregational minister, through the influence and kindly leading of Revd. John White, the famous and popular preacher of Donegall St., Belfast. His first charge was in the Straid, Co. Antrim, where he laboured with much acceptance, receiving from the congregation, on his removal to Theason, Scotland, a handsome and valuable presentation. He finally came to Partick, Glasgow, where he died, his remains being brought over to the family burying ground, Templecormack. The Methodist minister of Glenavy had charge of the funeral service. Mr. Kelly was a gifted and beautiful preacher, and as a memoir of his services the Partick congregation got published a book of sermons preached by him, which was greatly appreciated and enjoyed. On several occasions he occupied the pulpit in Glenavy. The opening and dedicatory services of the new church were performed by Revd. Robert McBride, the then President of the British Conference, followed by Revd. Wesley Guard, the concluding service being conducted by Revd. Robert McBride, Presbyterian minister of Dundrod, whose sermon was a masterpiece of expository teaching on the mission and work of the Christian Church.. The words of his text were "Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?" All of them have since passed over to the great invisible throng, but the influence of those services are still a refreshing memory and sweet recollections to those who heard them. Owing to the three years system enacted by Statue it is not in my province to make any special allusions to the ministers who have laboured on the Circuit, except to say that we have had able preachers and also diligent pastors, and the relationship between the people and ministers sent by Conference has always been of the most friendly nature. All seem to be solely actuated by one aim and purpose for the welfare of the Church, and today this Methodist Church in Glenavy is one of the most flourishing numerically and financially, I daresay, of any village church in the Methodist Conference. Quite recently up-to-date heating pipes have been put in, and renovations carried out without incurring any debt. Oh, the mighty influence of out life consecrated to a single aim and purpose. Outside the village, in the town land of Ballynacoy, a man named Michael Collier [1] resided. He was the old type of Puritaas and a warm and enthusiastic adherent of Methodism. His son Robert became a Methodist minister and for a number of years was general missionary, travelling throughout Ireland in that capacity. The present Revd. Horatio G. Collier is a son of his , and Mr. John Wilson Collier, grandson, who is in the old home, conducts the instrumental part of worship, giving his time and services gratuitously, a loyal supporter of the cause in Glenavy. I feel it would be most injudicious on my part in this brief review to allude to the many persons who have fostered and helped the growth of Methodism here; but I might be allowed a reference to Mr. E. J. Johnston, Crumlin, who, from early boyhood has been identified with this Church. His zeal and devotion to the cause require no comment from me. In addition to local preacher, he held the high official office of Senior Circuit Steward and representative to the annual Conference. He is a most liberal and generous contributor to her funds. Failing health has compelled him to give up most of the offices he held, yet in heart and pocket he still remains loyal and faithful. Should a future historian ever write about the history of Methodism in Glenavy Mr. Johnston will be a leading figurehead in such. On the material side of the congregation are most fortunate in having Messrs. W.J. McKeown and Samuel Buchanan, men of business integrity, who, in addition to their arduous duties as Circuit Stewards, are always to the front in a practical way to further and advance any suggestions or schemes conducive to the welfare, interest and prosperity of the Church.

In The Lisburn Herald 23rd June 1923 the following letter to the editor appeared.

Sir- With reference to an article on "Glenavy" appearing in your publication of June 16th, I would like to draw your attention to a slight inaccuracy on the part of the author. Referring to a man named Michael Collier, who resided in the town land of Ballynacoy, Mr. McLeavy states that his (Michael Collier’s) son Robert became a Methodist minister. The fact is, however, that Michael Collier had but one son, James, who lived as a farmer in Ballynacoy, until his death some 15 years ago, the father of the present John Wilson Collier. Mr. McLeavy probably intended to refer to the Revd. Robert Collier who was a first cousin of Michael Collier, his father James and Michael’s father John being brothers. Will you kindly find room in your next issue for the foregoing correction. – Yours sincerely, "Historian"

Killultagh Fete

The following extract is from The Lisburn Standard dated 13 02 1925

School Fete at Killultagh

The annual outdoor fete in connection with the Methodist Sunday Schools was held on Thursday, the 18th inst, the place selected being the old historic grounds of Killultagh, the residence of John Laird, Esq., J.P., kindly granted for the occasion. The children and friends numbering about 150, assembled at the schoolroom, where a short service was held, after which they proceeded by cars to the place of rendezvous, where they were warmly received and most hospitably entertained by the esteemed host (J.Laird Esq., J.P.) ably assisted by Mrs. Laird and Mr. William Laird. After partaking of a sumptuous tea , so kindly provided by the hosts, a number of games, races, &C., were indulged in. As the party were about to return home, Mr. Laird had another special treat in store for the little ones, viz., sweets and gingerbread, and a supply of pears was distributed gratis by Mr. John Moore. A number of speeches were made, and a hearty vote of thanks was passed to the Laird family, who had contributed so largely to the day’s enjoyment; throwing themselves heartily into all that could make the young people happy. Three hearty cheers were given for the devoted superintendent (Miss Johnston) and the Pastor (Rev. J.W. McWilliam), and the procession again turned homewards , feeling that a most enjoyable day had come to an end, but that Killultagh would still live in their memories.

‘Farewell to Ballymacash, my native place….’

God bless the dear old school. George Camlin. 30th March 1922

Believed to be George Camlin discovered in Glenavy Methodist Church. It bears the inscription ‘God bless the dear old school. George Camlin. 30th March 1922’

The Digger unearths the story of a man who could never forgot the place where he was brought up

Saturday 21st July 1860 was a day George Camlin would never forget.

In the Lisburn Standard of 19th March 1910 he records this was the day he left Ballymacash. In 1910 George Camlin was residing at Donegall Pass in Belfast and both areas have changed considerably since George’s time. Even in 1910 he realises that Ballymacash had changed from the area that he had known during his early years.

"The place has changed, and so have I,
Now hoary hairs are on my head,
The cot is crumbling into dust,
Old friends are scattered, some are dead.
And when I visit my old home,
I feel I am a stranger grown;
I wander round the dear old place
Almost unknowing and unknown."

This is the penultimate verse of a seven verse poem penned by George titled "Ballymacash." It has been written in the same style as another earlier ballad by Glenavy man Hugh McWilliams titled "Glenavy Dear." The first verse of each is strikingly similar and both refer to "the fine green hills and meadows broad." Undoubtedly a similar image found in most townlands and small villages around the district during that era.   Read more »

Death Notice – William F Thompson

The following is an extract from The Lisburn Standard Friday April 22nd 1927

Glenavy Church’s Loss

Late Mr W F Thompson

The death at his residence, Ardmore, Crumlin, of Mr William F Thompson is a great loss to Methodism in the district. The sad event took place on Tuesday. Deceased, who had been poorly in health for some time, was a valued member of the Glenavy congregation, where he regularly worshipped. Every good cause appealed to his sympathetic and practical interest, especially the work of a mission hall in the neighbourhood of his home. A man of genuine piety and sincere nature he will be greatly missed. He was a brother of the late Mr. J.B. Thompson, a former circuit steward of Donegall Square, and a nephew o the late Rev. Crawford Johnson.

Glenavy Methodist Church (date unknown)

Glenavy Methodist Church

Glenavy Methodist Church – date unknown

Church Centenary

The following is an extract from the Lisburn Standard dated 17th April 1931

The Methodist Church in Glenavy was opened 100 years ago by Rev. Adam Averall. In 1890 the present church was built, and the old building is still in use for Sunday school and other purposes. To celebrate its centenary the structure has been thoroughly renovated and repaired, including a new roof. The cost was £270. Special services to mark the event were held on Sunday last in the present church, when liberal offerings were taken for the centenary scheme. Rev. R.H. Gallagher, B.A., was the special preacher and his ministry was appropriate to the occasion and greatly enjoyed by large congregations.

Glenavy Methodist Church Prize Labels

Prize label from 1942

Prize label from 1942

Prize label from 1944

Prize label from 1944

Harvest Thanksgiving Services

The following is an extract from the Lisburn Standard dated Friday 22nd October 1948

Glenavy Methodist Church

The harvest thanksgiving services in Glenavy Methodist Church last Sunday were particularly well attended and the presence of large and enthusiastic congregations on Sunday morning and afternoon was most gratifying.

Both services were addressed by the Rev. James Washart, superintendent of Evangelism in Belfast, and his sermon on the lessons of the harvest made a lasting impression on all his listeners. The choir, who were trained by Mrs. A.A. Peel, have seldom sung to better effect, and their choice of harvest anthems, hymns, etc., was an excellent one. Mr. J.W. Collier was organist and Miss Mona McKeown (pianist) was accompanist to the three soloists, Mr. S. Carser (Belfast), Mrs Richmond and Mr. Prenter.

The music will be repeated next Sunday, when the Rev. Alexander McCrea, M.A., D.D., will be the special preacher. The soloists are to be Mr. J. Cathcart, Mr. H. Stewart, and Mr. M. McConnell.

The following is a transcript of a letter dated June 1951. It was sent to the members of the Glenavy Methodist Congregation.

1826 – 1951
June 1951


Methodism was introduced to Glenavy One hundred and
twenty five years ago. Under the blessing of God the work so
prospered that it was necessary to commence the building of a new
church in June 1891 – Sixty years ago.

It is our intention to remember these outstanding Events
– the 125th Anniversary and the Diamond Jubilee of the present Church –
in a worthy manner.

Preparations have been made for having Services of
thanksgiving and Dedication in Glenavy on Sunday 10th and Monday 11th
June. Our folk on the Circuit are wholeheartedly behind the
arrangements and we anticipate a full attendance at the Services.

We know, however, that there are many friends throughout
the land – and some beyond the seas – who had, and perhaps still
maintain, associations with the Church and people. At this time of
thanksgiving we look forward to sharing the fellowship of the Sanctuary
once again with former friends.

When the present Church was built it was so planned that
a vestry could be added later. This has never been done although it
has been talked about from time to time and would be a most useful
completion of the Church premises. The leaders feel that this is an
opportune time to get together the nucleus of a fund for this purpose,
Although with building difficulties as they are, it may be a long time
Before the work can be undertaken. We intend, therefore, to begin a
Vestry Building Fund with the Tank Offerings received in June.

Mr. F.J. Cole, who spent part of his boyhood in Glenavy
during the ministry of his worthy father, has written a booklet for us
"Glenavy Methodism and some of its Contacts", which will be on sale

With every kind wish.

We remain,
Very sincerely yours,

(Circuit Steward)

Approximately £800 would be required for this Scheme.

Glenavy Methodist Publication

Glenavy Methodist Publication

by Frances J. Cole


In passing these pages into the hands of the printer I have to acknowledge the assistance I have received from various friends and authorities. Foremost I must thank Mr. A.A. Peel, J.P., for useful information promptly supplied. I must also express my gratitude to the Rev. J.M. Alley, the Rev. W.T. Clarke, and Mr. Willoughby Wilson, of Jordanstown, for their assistance. In addition, I have to thank Mrs. Josephine Downer for courteously lending "The History of the Johnstone Family," by Miss J.R. Downer. Historic facts were also found in the "Irish Primitive Wesleyan Magazine" and Archdeacon Watson’s "History of Glenavy".


The Glenavy Methodists are under a debt of gratitude to Mr. Francis J. Cole for the ready way in which he undertook the writing of this story at their request. His unrivalled store of Methodist history along with his personal interest, going back to boyhood days lived in the manse, have enabled him to give us a record which will be read with interest and referred to often in the coming days.

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Glenavy Methodism and Some of its Contacts

Those of us who are familiar with the old County Antrim village of Glenavy will agree that by its proximity to the magnificent waters of Lough Neagh, and the picturesque Ram’s Island, it forms the centre of one of the most attractive districts in Northern Ireland. Much of that attraction is due to the well-kept exteriors of the surrounding homesteads and the careful cultivation of the lands which adjoin them, each of which provides a well-merited guide to the character and habits of the thrifty residents. Visitors to the scattered parish will have very little hesitation in concluding that during plantation days of earlier centuries wise discrimination was exercised in the allotment of lands, a fact which is reflected even in modern local Methodism. In the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries Methodism was not an organised body, but it is of interest to find Lord Conway offering holdings and position to the ancestors of families which subsequently became outstanding figures in the councils of our Church.

The ecclesiastical history of Glenavy goes back to the early years of the Celtic Church, when the site of a small sanctuary attributed to St. Patrick was given to a dwarf called Daniel and was described as Lann- avich, meaning "the church of the dwarf," later corrupted Glenavy, It is hardly necessary to add that this was in the days of the old and independent Irish Church, which carried the Gospel message through Europe and owed no allegiance to a Roman pontiff.

Few country towns or villages have had their history more accurately compiled or more attractively written than Glenavy, and for this the gratitude of the villagers and its natives is due to the late Archdeacon Watson who, for a time, was rector of the parish. By a coincidence with the golden jubilee of Glenavy Methodism, its publication took place at the time Glenavy Methodist Church was being built. Glenavy people have always been proud of the happy relationships which existed during the Williamite war of 1690 between them and the forces of Duke Schomberg, then quartered there; relationships which were cemented for all time by the gift to the Parish Church of a suitably inscribed silver chalice from Major General St. John Lenier and his officers representing the Queen’s Regiment of Horse.


Attempts were made in 1672 and 1673 to form a Presbyterian congregation, but support was not sufficient, probably because most of the settlers in this district came from England and Wales and not from Scotland, as in the other parts of the county. A few years later, however, a congregation was founded at Ballinderry. Although John Wesley and his preachers visited Antrim and Lisburn on several occasions there are no records of visits to Glenavy; but in the middle of the eighteenth century there was much local activity by the Moravian Church. John Cennick, who had been in Wesley’s school at Kingswood, severed his connection with Methodism and, after a period of collaboration with George Whitefield, came to County Antrim, where he was responsible for the foundation of the Moravian Settlement at Gracehill, near Ballymena. On 27th September, 1750, we find him for the first time at Glenavy, where he preached in a field outside the village to an audience said to be of "thousands". Cennick was then regarded as a preacher of gifts, and the following year a chapel and a preacher’s residence came into being. Although there was much initial success, the congregations formed at Glenavy, Larne and elsewhere completely disappeared after a few years. Cennick, who died in 1755 when only thirty-seven years of age, is still remembered by his hymns, among which will be found "Children of the Heavenly King" and "Be present at our table, Lord."

With the Scotch Plantation of James 1 members of the Johnston family came to Ireland, one of whom, Thomas Johnston, is said by Hetrogena, himself a Johnston, to have become rector of Ballynahinch,. William Johnston, who married Miss Hannah Ferris, of Aghalee, about 1783, is thought to have been a descendant of this Thomas Johnston. He was an excellent man, a much respected member of the Ballinderry Parish Church, and a man of some property. During the Insurrection of 1798 the Marquess of Hertford appointed him a lieutenant in the Ballinderry Yeomanry. In 1804 he purchased 135 acres of land from Mr. Doherty Gorman at Glenavy and established a family and business connection with the village, which is still remembered with much respect although the local branch of the Johnston family no longer remains. After thirteen years’ residence in Glenavy, Mr. Johnston died a comparatively young man, and as he was predeceased by his wife the children were left in the care of guardians. The oldest boy at home was John Moore Johnston, who was born in 1799. This boy’s responsibilities were unusually great for one of his years, but he faced them with courage and determination. The second boy at home was Philip, born in 1804, and some years later we find him in the employment of a leading Methodist, Mr. William Johnston of Lurgan, whose sister was the wife of Mr. Thomas A. Shillington, J.P., of Portadown. At that period the Methodist

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Attitude to the licensed trade was of a less exacting character than in modern days and no objection was made to the reception into membership of those engaged in this business. In any case association with the wholesale trade did not arouse the same degree of feeling as did the retail trade. After a few years in Lurgan Philip Johnston decided to seek his fortune in Belfast and on vacating his situation was succeeded by William McArthur, son of an Irish Methodist minister. In later years Mr. McArthur was widely known as a great London and Colonial merchant, a member of the British House of Commons, a magnanimous benefactor of the Methodist College, Belfast, builder of the McArthur Hall, Lord Mayor of London and finally the recipient of a Knighthood awarded by Queen Victoria. During Philip Johnston’s residence in Lurgan he became deeply interested in Methodism, and in 1822 induced his older brother, John Moore Johnston, of Glenavy, to attend a Methodist Love Feast at Moira as well as other Methodist Services in the neighbourhood. Philip, in Belfast, became a member of Donegall Square Methodist Church, with which he continued his much-honoured connection until his death in 1882. He not only occupied the offices of Trustee, Circuit Steward, Sunday School Superintendent and Class Leader, but was also a munificent contributor to the foundation of the Methodist College. An outstanding personality in the business life of Belfast he was, with Mr. James Carlisle, a founder of the firm of Messrs. Johnston and Carlisle, which later became the Brookfield Spinning Co. He subsequently also became founder of the great spinning company of Messrs. Philip Johnston & Sons. In addition to his Church and business Mr. Johnston was closely associated with the municipal life of Belfast, becoming an Alderman of the Municipal Council and elected Mayor in 1871.

In 1816 a serious division took place in Irish Methodism when an insistent demand was made by a large section of the people for administration by the ministers of the Ordinance of Communion. The matter received the consideration of Conference and after a heated debate was acceded to in respect of eight important circuits. The result was the secession of a considerable membership which severed from the Irish Wesleyan Conference and founded the Primitive Wesleyan Society of Ireland under the presidency of the Rev. Adam Averall, B.A., a clergyman of the Irish Church in deacon’s orders. Previously most Irish Methodists received communion at the hands of either the local rector or his curates and most of them were now glad to receive such ordinances from the circuit minister, although the Methodists in Glenavy decided to continue the old arrangement and attend the Parish Church for Communion. One of these was a retired devout military man, Sergeant Cardwell, who lived close to the village, and at his house Mr.

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John Moore Johnston had the opportunity of hearing Mr. Joseph Ross preach. Mr. Ross was the appointed "Primitive" preacher on the Antrim and Glenavy Circuit in 1826. Mr. Johnston was apparently shy in making his appearance at Sergeant Cardwell’s because he says, "I took the most private place I could get and listened attentively; the word," he says, "came with power to my heart and fully convinced me of the truth of the Gospel. I felt I stood in need of that change of heart the preacher spoke of and that without it I could not enter into heaven. I heard Mr. Ross again the next evening in Glenavy and became still more in love with the doctrines which he taught. The next morning I gave him an invitation to my house and requested him to make it one of his regular stopping places. A class was now formed of which I became a member, and two brethren from Antrim were appointed to meet it alternatively which they did regularly, though they had to drive a distance of seven miles for this purpose." The Glenavy class was soon doubled in number and it was with much happiness Mr. Johnston prepared a place of meeting for all Services. He also founded a Sunday School where his gentle paternal manner won the affections of the children. In 1830 he build a chapel in portion of his garden adjoining the street, and it is pleasant to think that this old sanctuary, which was opened by Rev. Adam Averall, still survives with its many sacred and treasured memories. Mr. Johnston died in 1848, when he was only forty-eight years of age, and was survived by his wife who, before she was married at sixteen years of age, was Miss Thompson, of Rosemund’s Hill, Ballinderry. Two of her boys had unfortunately been drowned, one in Belfast Lough and one in American waters, but she was left with the responsibility of nine children. In accord with Mr. Johnston’s principles as an Irish Primitive Wesleyan, he invariably attended the Sunday Services at the Parish Church and was never absent from Communion. On these occasions he liked to have as many of his young people as were eligible with him. His son, Mr. James Johnston, whose later life was spent in Belfast, took an active interest in the "primitive" Chapel at Glenavy, and after his father’s death was frequently in Glenavy representative at the Primitive Conferences. He died in 1897, but is still remembered by older people who have survived. Each of Mr. Moore Johnston’s daughters was widely known and much respected in Methodist circles. Miss Sarah Johnston married Mr Henry Thompson, son of Mr. John Crawford Thompson of Ardmore. In Church and temperance circles she was an active and enthusiastic worker. Miss Margaret Johnston married Mr. Thomas Smallman Downer, son of Dr. Downer, of Roscrea, and on the death of her husband she and her children came to reside at the old home in Glenavy with her sister, Miss Mary

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Eliza Johnston. Here these good ladies throughout the remainder of their lives, kept "open house" for all members of the Johnston family as well as for ministers and ministerial deputations who came on special occasions to the Church. For many years Miss Johnston acted as superintendent of the Sunday School.

Miss Lucinda Hester Johnston married Mr. Stewart Baskin, of Dublin, and with her family was attached to Abbey Street Methodist Church. Miss Susanna Rosamund Johnston, the younger daughter, was married in 1870 to Rev. Robert Crawford Johnston, of Antrim. Dr. Johnston will always be remembered as founder of the Belfast Central Mission and builder of Grosvenor Hall, as well as Vice-President of Conference in 1898. Mrs. Johnston was a very true helpmeet. Her work not only on behalf of her husband’s circuits as well as of the Mission left influences of a lasting character on the lives of those she met, more especially of her five splendid sons, who were all much beloved by their numerous Glenavy friends.

In 1845 Rev. Edward Addy, one of the most successful of the Irish Primitive preachers, was appointed to Glenavy, where he left many seals to his ministry. He retired in 1847, and settled in Glenavy. The following year, on Mr. John Moore Johnston’s death, Mr. Addy wrote an excellent biographical sketch of his life, which was published by the Primitive Wesleyan Magazine. Sad to relate, before this appeared Mr. Addy was also dead. A further outstanding figure on the circuit was Mr. James Johnson, of Crumlin, who married Miss Eliza Thompson of Ardmore, and was nephew of Rev. Alexander Mackey. Mr. Johnson was a member of the well-known Antrim family of that name and became a leading business man in Crumlin. He was a most conscientious circuit steward and a devoted leader who exercised his respective offices with great faithfulness. In these he was succeeded by his son, Mr. Edward J. Johnson, who is remembered as a worthy follower of his Godly parents.

The relations of the Primitive Wesleyan Society of Ireland with the original Wesleyan Methodist Society came again into prominence at the Disestablishment of the Irish Church in 1869. During that time, and in succeeding years, these received the earnest consideration of the members of both Conferences with the consequence that at a Conference of the older Connexion and the Primitives, held in 1878, unon was decided on. From the early years of Irish Methodism Glenavy was regarded as part of Lisburn "Round" or Circuit; but with the creation of a "Primitive" Mission of Antrim and Glenavy in 1816 there were two rival organisations engaged in the same places. In the Glenavy area the Primitives were probably in the majority,

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But we fins some fine old Methodist families like the Colliers, of Ballynacoy, whose Methodist connections were linked to the Methodist Society at Lisburn instead of the Primitive Society at Glenavy. Methodism originally reached Ballynacoy through the agency of Rev. William Bickerdike, a member of the English Primitives, who married a daughter of Mr. Samuel Hay, founder of a congregation of the Methodist Association, which built a chapel at Carrickfergus. Methodism owes much to James Collier, who entered the Irish ministry in 1829 and died in 1870, as well as to his younger brother, Robert Collier, who entered the ministry in 1849 and died in 1895. Robert Collier is still remembered by some of us as a kindly General Missionary, much beloved by the younger people whom he knew how to cultivate and teach. He was father of Rev. Horatio G. Collier, who died in 1946 and is affectionately remembered over the entire circuit at the death of Mr. John Wilson Collier, son of Mr. James Collier, Ballynacoy. Mr. Collier was the last of the family to reside at the old home, where he died on 20th September, 1950. For forty years he was the honorary organist at Glenavy Church and for many years was the efficient circuit steward, an office which he occupied until his death. He will long be remembered not only for his great loyalty to the Church of his fathers, but also because of his generous benefactions, by which Glenavy Church receives £1,500; Grosvenor Hall, Belfast £250; the Home Mission Fund, £250; the Evangelistic Agency £250, in addition to which each of these receives an equal part of the residue.

Another well-known and very worthy old Methodist family was the Thompson family, of Bridge End, who attended the Services at Magheragall and Killultagh before the Union. Bridge End was long a preaching appointment. Mr. Abraham Thompson still has a service in his house at Tullyrusk, where he resides with his son. Mr. Abraham Thompson’s sister, Mrs William Smyth, is still an active and interested member.

In 1879, the first person of the circuit ministers of the United Conference, in the person of Rev. J.W.A.McWilliam, was appointed to Glenavy, where he spent three successful years and was re-appointed for a further term in 1897.

In 1885, during the ministry of Rev. Richard Cole, the circuit finances were greatly relieved by an arrangement with Mr. Isaac McKinstry McNeice of Crewe Mount. In consideration of an undertaking that the trustees of the Church would make Mr. McNeice an annual payment of £25 for the remainder of his life, he paid to the trustees the sum of £500, of which £400 was to be used for the building or purchase of a minister’s residence and £100 for the enlargement and improvement of

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The old chapel. Mr. McNeice and his representatives were protected by a bond for £4,000 signed by the trustees. The first payment was made to Mr. McNeice on 1st May, 1886, and payments continued until Mr. McNeice’s death in 1899. Mr. Cole was succeeded in 1888 by Rev. H.N. Kevin and in 1891 by Rev. W.J. Christie. Subsequent events made it apparent that both ministers and people were much encouraged by these financial arrangements.

Rev. Richard Cole was the first Methodist minister to live in the manse, its purchase being completed in 1885. The previous owner was the Rev. Edward Johnson-Smyth, M.A., Vicar of Glenavy from 1852 to 1885. Previously the Glenavy curates resided in this house, while the Methodist minister lived in James Johnston’s house, Hopecroft, which is next door. The purchase of the property with seven and a half acres of land was completed for £600 at a nominal rent of one shilling per year.

On Saturday afternoon, 10th October, 1891, a large and happy audience met at a vacant site adjoining the old chapel and fronting the garden of Mrs. Downer and Miss Mary Eliza Johnston with the support and approval of their brothers and sisters. Mr. John Kelly, of Belfast and Bangor, whose forebears had closely been associated with the district, had been invited to take the responsibility of laying the foundation stone, but, unfortunately, he was unable to be present at the beginning of the proceedings. However, the Rev. Dr. Oliver McCutcheon, who had just been appointed President of the Methodist College, Belfast, travelled to Glenavy and deputised for Mr. Kelly by well and truly laying the stone, which bears the inscription:

"The foundation stone of this Church was laid by John Kelly, Esq., 10th October, 1891."

This was followed by the laying of memorial stones by two of the popular and much respected daughters of Mr. John Moore Johnston, the founder of Glenavy Methodism. It was most appropriate that the names of these ladies – Mrs. Sarah Thompson, of Belfast, and Miss Mary Eliza Johnston, of Glenavy, should be associated with that event, as also was the name of Mr. Johnston’s grand-daughter, Miss Downer, who was in charge of the music and the choir, which sang the anthem "Send Out Thy Light and Thy Truth". On Mr. Kelly’s arrival he presented a cheque for thirty guineas, and contributions of twenty pounds each were given by Mrs. Thompson and Miss Johnston. Amongst others who were present were Rev. John Wilson, Rev Richard Cole, Rev. Henry Ball, Rev. T.W. Davidson, Rev. J.P. Roe, Rev. John McBride, Messrs. Henry Thompson, Conway Scott, C.E., W.J. Johnston, J.P., John Laird, W.M. Scott, E.J. Johnson, W. Cooper,

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J.J. Phillips, jun., W. Shannon, Samuel Thompson, J. Knox, J. Moore, William Williams, J.R. Lowry, Arthur Peel, Warren Mountgarrett, Wesley Johnston and William Shaw. The total collection for the afternoon amounted to the very creditable sum of £81 14s 7d. At the conclusion of the proceedings the visitors were entertained in the Protestant Hall to an admirable luncheon, at which the speakers were Rev. Dr. Oliver McCutcheon, Rev. Henry Ball, Rev. Richard Cole and Rev. John McBride, of Dundrod. The designer of the Church was Mr. J.J. Phillips, the well-known Belfast architect, under whose supervision the Church was built, the builder being Mr. Robert Caldwell. During the following months the congregation looked forward with anticipation to the opening of the new Church, which duly took place on Saturday, 18th June, 1892. It was a great afternoon for Glenavy when the distinguished President of the British and Irish Conferences, the Rev. T. Bowman Stephenson, D.D., L.L.D., accompanied by a host of visitors, arrived in the village, where they were received by Rev. Richard Butler, Superintendent of the Circuit, and Rev. W.J. Christie, the local minister. Among others who made their way to Glenavy were Rev. Edward best, of New Zealand; Rev.J.W. A. McWilliam, Rev. John Wilson, Rev. Stewart Smith, Rev. R. Crawford Johnson, Rev. James Wherry, Rev. Richard Cole, Rev. James Collier, Rev. P.E. Donovan, Rev.John McBride, Rev. T.W. Davison, Messrs. John Kelly, T.P. McDowell, Henry Thompson, Wesley Johnston, William McRoberts, Wm. Shaw, and W. Sherman. The President’s text was 1st Peter 1:3,4, and 5. "Blessed be the Lord God and Father of the Lord God and father of the Lord Jesus Christ," etc. It was stated that the sermon was "eloquent and powerful." The music was in charge of Mr. E.J. McCreary, of Belfast, and the collection amounted to £72 7s 4d.

Few country houses have remained as long as Ardmore in the possession of the members of one family. From the early days of Mr. John E. Thompson and his good wife, one hundred and twenty-five years ago down through the life-time of the kindly and ever-helpful Mr. and Mrs Samuel Thompson, the Thompsons have been in the occupation of the old homestead on the eastern shore of Lough Neagh. If the walls of that old house could speak, what a tale they could narrate of hospitality and kindness. There the Methodist people, both ministerial and lay, have for generations been royally received and sumptuously entertained. In modern times the late Mrs. William Thompson, a daughter of the manse, not only sustained the Ardmore records most amply, but was an energetic and capable Circuit Steward. Mr. Archie Thompson now occupies that important office in which his many friends wish him happiness and success.

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From the beginning of the Antrim and Glenavy Circuit in 1878 there was no more highly respected figure than Mr. Arthur Peel, of Roses’ Lane Ends, who died in September, 1922. A Trustee of the Church property, a Class Leader, a Conference Representative and a Member of the Building Committee of the present Church, whose members owe much to his devotion and generosity. In his various offices and interests he could not have had a more worthy successor than his son, Mr. Albert A. Peel, J.P. Mr Albert Peel is not only deeply interested in Glenavy Methodism, but he has deservedly earned the respect of a large section of the people of South Antrim, to whom he has rendered splendid service as a magistrate, a member of the Antrim County Council, a member of the County Education Committee, of the Health Committee and the Lagan Valley Hospital Committee. For fifty years he was Superintendent of the Legatariff Sunday School, an activity which was signalised by a complimentary social meeting and a presentation. He is also a trustee of the Church. In all his religious, benevolent and social work he has the enthusiastic support of Mrs. Peel.

Mr. David Parkhill Wilson came from East Antrim in 1886 to reside at Derrachrine. Member of a family with old Methodist roots going back into the eighteenth century, he and his splendid son and daughter were loyal and interested members. Mr. Wilson passed away in 1912 and it is regrettable to have to record the death of his son Mr. Robert Wilson, whose widow and a very nice family of eleven young people still reside at Derrachrine. Mr. William McKeown, of Glenavy, died some years ago and was a serious loss to the congregation. For many years he was the local circuit steward and carried out the duties of Sunday School Superintendent for twenty years with great devotion. Mrs. McKeown and her three daughters now reside in the old home. They are all a source of strength to Methodism. Miss McKeown is the efficient organist. During the last war years this good lady and a band of honorary workers did magnificent work among the soldiers stationed in the village, to whom they served no less than 32000 meals. The Church hall during those times was used as a rest and reading-room by the military.

During the sixty years which have passed since Glenavy Methodism came into intimate relationship with the Conference of the Methodist Church in Ireland it is recognised that in spite of imperfections the local Church has been a centre of spiritual life and consecrated activity under the leadership of the various ministers who have been stationed here during that period; both they and the people have been vigorously engaged in many departments of Christian enterprise. It is therefore not surprising that the members and the fruits of their work show much


indication of Divine approval, bringing encouragement for fresh opportunity in the future. Every one of the nineteen ministers who have been stationed in Glenavy has carried out his duties with great faithfulness and much sacrifice. Only those of us who have been far from home in a hilly district on a winter night among snow drifts can form an adequate survey of the work of an Irish country Methodist minister and the hardships he endures. The complete list of those ministers who have lived at Glenavy will be found on this page with the relative dates. In publishing the names the author regrets that in a small publication like this it is not possible to give an account of the work done by each individual minister. He cannot, however, end without paying tribute to Rev. R.F.C. Rooney for his faithful ministry and for the valuable assistance which he rendered in the completion of the material of this brochure.

Ministers stationed at Glenavy Division of Antrim and Glenavy Circuit from the Union with the Irish Primitive Wesleyans in 1878:

1878 attached to Lisburn
1879 J.W.A. McWilliam
1882 Edward De Courcey
1885 Richard Cole
1888 Henry N. Kevin
1891 William J. Christie
1894 Henry Kennedy
1897 J.W.A. McWilliam
1900 George W. Thompson
1903 Gabriel M. Clarke
1906 George W. Thompson
1909 Robert Jamison
1912 Robert Maxwell
1918 Robert D. Cody
1922 James Cathcart
1925 Robert D. Cody
1930 J. Arthur Hynes
1932 John A.Walton, M.A.
1936 Francis E. Morrow
1939 Hugh Allen
1942 William J. Carson
1947 Robert F.C. Rooney


The following are the names of the original Trustees of:-

Glenavy New Chapel

Rev. Robert Orr
Rev. R. Butler
Rev. W.J. Christie
Rev. R. Crawford Johnson
Mr. Edward J. Johnson
Mr. John Knox
Mr. Arthur Peel
Mr. William Ingram
Mr. James Collier
Mr. Henry Thompson
Mr. Wesley Johnston
Mr. John Moore
Mr. William S. Thompson
Mr. Thos. P. McDowell

Manse and Lands

Rev. C.H. Crookshank
Rev. R. Crawford Johnson
Rev. Edward De Courcey
Mr. Edward J. Johnson
Mr. Wesley Johnston
Mr. Thos. P. McDowell
Mr. S.W. Lowry
Mr. Henry Thompson
Mr. John Knox
Mr. John Moore
Mr. Arthur Peel
Mr. William Ingram
Mr. James Collier

In 1948 the Trusts were united in one Deed and the following Trustees of the entire property were appointed:-

Rev. A.E. Nelson
Mr. J.W. Collier
Mr. A.A. Peel, J.P.
Mr. Francis J. Patterson
Mr. Edward S. Thompson
Mr. Thomas Thompson
Mr. Walter G. White, jun.
Mr. William J. Kerr
Mr. David Wilson
Mr. Archibald F. Thompson
Mr. William Jas. Green
Mr. R.M. Sidney Higginson
Mr. Hugh Suffern
Mr. Richard Acheson
V.McMurray, Printer, Lisburn

(page 12)

This paragraph was inadvertently omitted from the text of the booklet:

One of those who took a prominent and practical interest in the building of the Church in 1892 was the late Mr. John Moore, of "Mooreview". We are glad that some of his relatives are still with us. His worthy grandson, Mr. Hugh Suffern, is one of the leaders in our Church today.

Rev R D Cody to succeed J A Hynes – Drogheda Circuit

The following is an extract from The Lisburn Standard dated Friday 25th April 1930

Glenavy Methodism

Rev R D Cody, of Glenavy, has accepted the cordial invitation of the Drogheda Circuit to succeed rev J A Hynes at next conference. Rev W J Woods of Clonakilty, has accepted a similar invitation to suceed Rev R D Cody at Glenavy at the same time. Mr. Cody will then have completed five years term as superintendent of Antrim and Glenavy Circuit and nine years in all.

The Rev Cody and Mrs Cody

Rev Cody and his wife

Rev Cody and his wife

Obituary — Mr Philip Higginson

The following is an extract from The Ulster Star dated 2nd February 1963 and is used with the permission of The Ulster Star.

Mr. P Higginson.

Mr Philip Higginson, Lower Ballinderry, who died in the Lagan Valley Hospital, Lisburn, on Saturday at the age of 87 was one of the oldest residents of Ballinderry district. He was a farmer.

A local preacher, Mr. Higginson was a member of Glenavy Methodist Church, a member of the Leaders’ and Quarterly Boards, a representative of Aghadavey Prayer Union, chairman and a foundation member of the Rosevale Mission Hall, Ballinderry and President of Lower Ballinderry Temperance Accordian Band.

Predeceased by his wife some years ago, he is survived by three sons, a daughter, a brother and two sisters.
The funeral took place on Monday from his home to Stoneyford churchyard. The Revs. McM. Carson, Glenavy Methodist Church, R.F.C. Rooney, Dromore, J.B. Lowe, Ballinderry, W.Dale, Antrim and Mr. R. Fraser of the Faith Mission, conducting the services.

Sunday School Picnic

A Sunday School Picnic

A Sunday School Picnic – believed to be associated to the Methodist Church, Glenavy
(Kindly provided by the McKeown family)

A Sunday School Picnic

A Sunday School Picnic – believed to be associated to the Methodist Church, Glenavy
(Kindly provided by the McKeown family)

Girls Life Brigade

The Girl's Life Brigade parading at Glenavy

The Girl’s Life Brigade parading at Glenavy
Date unknown.
Wilson’s carpentry workshop can be seen in rear of photograph.

(Kindly provided by the McKeown family.)

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