Abbey Presbyterian marks Jubilee Year

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Cllr Thomas Hogg and Rev Alan Carson plant a tree to mark the Year of Jubilee at Abbey Presbyterian Church. INNT 16-016-PSB
Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Cllr Thomas Hogg and Rev Alan Carson plant a tree to mark the Year of Jubilee at Abbey Presbyterian Church. INNT 16-016-PSB

Abbey Presbyterian Church in Monkstown marked a very special milestone with a series of events held last weekend.

The church, known to many locally as the ‘white church on the corner’, held a number of events to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Services were held above the old shops on the Jordanstown Road 50 years ago.

On Sunday, April 24, 50 years to the day since the first service, special services took place with the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church and the previous minister Rev John Seawright as guest speakers. The previous day a tree was planted by the Mayor, and a book, telling the stories of 50 members young and old was launched. An exhibition of the last 50 years of church life and a meal were also part of a weekend of celebrations.

Located in a fairly urban area on the outskirts of Belfast, Monkstown drew people from north Belfast to the new housing estate that was being built in the 1960s. Today, the vast majority of the 250 active families live locally, including some of Abbey’s oldest members. Mrs Thelma Coffey, the current Clerk of Session, was a member of the original Working Committee that established the Church. Known then as the Monkstown Church Extension, as the local community grew, so did the number of those coming to church. In 1967 a house was rented for some of the activities and a year later a wooden hall was built on land bequeathed to the fledgling congregation, followed by the church itself in 1970.

Current minister Rev Alan Carson who was installed in January 2015 as only the fourth minister, said: “It has been really important for us to look back and celebrate God’s goodness over the last 50 years and the whole church of all ages have been able to be a part of that. Much has changed in the church and in Monkstown over time, but we believe we have a message of God’s love, forgiveness and hope that is as relevant as it ever was. Our big free community fun day is planned for Saturday, August 20 - bigger and better than ever with lots of activity for all. In the Autumn we will be having events for children, young people, men and women as well as many ongoing activities and organisations. I can guarantee that whenever you come in the door of Abbey you will be welcomed. Weekly services continue at 11am and 6.30pm with an informal all-age service on the third Sunday of each month.”