Moderator joins Garvagh congregation for 375th anniversary

The church choir who led the praise during the special service to mark the anniversary at First Garvagh. INCR22

The church choir who led the praise during the special service to mark the anniversary at First Garvagh. INCR22

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Presbyterian Moderator, Rt. Rev. Dr. Ian McNie, joined with the congregation of First Garvagh last weekend, as they celebrated their 375th anniversary.

The Moderator was welcomed to Garvagh last Sunday morning to join the congregation for an open-air Psalms Service at the site of the old Session House, before leading the Sunday morning service in the current church.

The congregation of First Garvagh celebrating their 375th Anniversary with an open air Psalms service at the old church yard site in Garvagh. The service was conducted by the Moderator Rt Rev. Dr Ian McNie and Rev. Mark Donald. INCR22

The congregation of First Garvagh celebrating their 375th Anniversary with an open air Psalms service at the old church yard site in Garvagh. The service was conducted by the Moderator Rt Rev. Dr Ian McNie and Rev. Mark Donald. INCR22

In the evening, a thanksgiving praise service, with The Route Singers and Rt. Rev. Dr. Godfrey Brown was held, in which Dr. Brown reflected on church life over the 375 years.

Commenting on First Garvagh having reached 375 years since its’ foundation, Dr. McNie said, “It was a privilege and an honour to join with the congregation and participate as they celebrated this considerable milestone in their history.

“Over the special open-air PsaIms service, traditional morning service and then the fellowship lunch, I wanted to take the opportunity to encourage the congregation as they continue to worship God, grow His church and share and spread His love. ‘Lord for the Years’ has been the theme for the weekend, and it is clear that serving our Lord Jesus Christ down through the years has been at the heart and purpose of all that they do – and will continue to be.”

Rev. Mark Donald, minister of First Garvagh, highlighted the importance of remembering the humble beginnings of the congregation: “The congregation’s forefathers had assembled for worship in the open-air for many decades before they had a meeting house and we wanted to reflect this in our church anniversary celebrations and for many people this was very poignant with some suggesting that the service should be a yearly feature,” he said.

Rev Donald went on: “We also wanted to mark the significance of the occasion with a more permanent reminder, so during the morning service everyone in the congregation received a commemorative Communion token specially made with the date 1641, marking the founding of the congregation,” Rev. Donald continued.

Besides the special Sunday services, also taking place over the weekend was a concert on the Saturday evening with the Band, Pipes and Drums of the Royal Irish Regiment, where a ‘Roll of Honour’ plaque to those who served from the congregation during the First World War was unveiled.

Then from the Friday through to the Sunday, a Historical Exhibition, illustrated with flowers and a classic vehicle display, was viewed by the many who visited.

The exhibition comprised of old photos and exhibits of pieces kept from the original church in Bridge Street which was demolished in the early 1970’s.

Alongside this, a booklet on the history of the congregation has been produced and is available from the church website www.firstgarvaghpresbyterian.org.

On leaving Garvagh on Sunday afternoon, the Moderator and his wife Anne, travelled to Co. Donegal to take part in the special 180th anniversary evening service at Alt Presbyterian.

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