Parish History

 

Around 1840 there was a considerable increase in the population of Lisburn owing to the Flax Spinning Mills and Threadworks. It was felt that an effort should be made to provide increased church accommodation in the town, by building a Chapel of Ease, in which free sittings would be provided for working people. A site was found in Hillsborough Road, which was at that time in the occupancy of Mr. Parker Major, who generously surrendered his claim.

Plans and specifications were prepared by the late Sir. Charles Lanyon. Two local builders, Messrs. Arthur Morgan and James Vernon, were appointed to build the edifice with seating for 500 worshippers, at a total cost of £4,800. The ‘New Church' as it then was called was opened for worship on 20th November 1842.

For the first 21 years, the ‘New Church' remained under the general control of the Cathedral of Christ Church, Lisburn, otherwise Lisburn Cathedral, as a Chapel of Ease.

After the Religious Revival of 1859, the north and south transepts and the gallery were constructed and the additions provided accommodation for a further 280 worshippers. At a special service on 10th June 1860, to mark the completion of the work, the special preacher was the Rev. John N. Griffin, the first Curate of the New Church, then Minister of Spring Grove, Middlesex.

A Deed of Endowment dated 15th September 1863, assigned a Pastoral District or Parish to the ‘New Church'. The church was consecrated on 24th September 1863 and the Rev. William D. Pounder, B.A. was appointed Perpetual Curate and Rector and held the incumbency for 21 years. 

In 1864, the Nicholson Memorial Hall was erected for a Sunday School by Mrs. Nicholson in memory of her six children. On 31st October 1874, the Bishop of the United Diocese, the Rt. Rev. R. Knox, consecrated the Nicholson Memorial aisle. It was designed by Thomas Drew, and is a memorial to the late Mrs. Nicholson.

During the incumbency of the Rev. Canon Arthur Noble, M.A. (1961-82) a massive building and reconstruction and refurbishment programme was carried out involving expenditure of approximately £150,000. The old Nicholson Memorial Hall was completely modernised and a new minor hall, porch and games room were built and officially opened by Mrs. A. Noble and dedicated by the Lord Bishop of Connor, the Rt. Rev. A. H. Butler on 9th January 1976.

During the incumbency of the Rev. Canon Samuel McComb, G.O.E. (1982-2004) a further massive building and reconstruction and refurbishment programme was carried out on the church and its ancillary buildings, involving expenditure of over £1,000,000. In 1982 the porch of the church was rebuilt and enlarged, and is now known as ‘The Noble Porch' as a tribute to the services of the Rev. Canon Arthur Noble, Rector. The church halls were renovated and on 3rd November 1995 the renovation of these halls were dedicated by the Lord Bishop of Connor, the Rt. Rev. J. E. Moore. The church was treated for the effects of dry rot and new pews and flooring were installed. In addition to these massive sums, the parishioners of Christ Church donated £26,000 i.e. half of the cost of its daughter church, St. Paul's, Lisburn, which was opened in 1964. Over the years, the faithfulness and the generosity of the parishioners have been consistent and remarkable.

Since 1863 the Parish has been served by 49 curates and 12 rectors. The present Rector, the Rev. Paul Dundas, was instituted in January 2005. 

More recently the Parish built a spacious modern rectory on the traditional site adjacent to the Church in 2006.   A major project to re-slate the Church roof was completed in 2009.

A Parish Mission called ‘Connect' was conducted in February 2008 by Roger Murphy and Paul Hoey from CPAS.

 
In 2009, the Parish produced its first Mission Statement: 'Connecting with the Lord, one another and the community' and used the strap line of 'being active disciples of Jesus Christ'.


In 2011, the east window was completely replaced with major repairs done to the sandstone around the three main windows.


The 11th February 2012 was a truly significant day for the Parish as 11 parishioners and 4 friends left on a mission project to Luwero, Uganda with Fields of Life. The team and parishioners and friends raised over £75,000 to build 2 school blocks and the team completed the build and worked with children and clergy. Another team went in February 2015 to complete the build on staff accommodation.

 

The third Parish team went in February 2017 to work at the school and continue its journey and sustainability.  This trip developed links with the Diocese of Luwero as well.

We celebrated the 175th anniversary of the building of our parish church from Friday, 17th November to Sunday, 19th November 2017.   A book was launched which reflects not only our history, the memories of parishioners and clergy and photographs of parish life and above all the story of Christian faith in Lisburn over those years as we thank the Lord for his faithfulness guiding hand and blessing as we serve Him.

 

Our celebrations as a church family provided us with an opportunity for a celebration meal on Friday night, 17th November when Bishop Alan Abernethy was present as we launched the book. Our worship on Sunday, 19th November focused on our children and youth organisations in the morning and then an evening celebration with civic leaders.  The preacher was Dean Sam Wright from Lisburn Cathedral.

 

During Rev Paul Dundas' twelve years as Rector, our parish has focused on "Connections" but that has been the story of the  parish over 175 years:  "Connecting with the Lord one another and the community."  The words of Psalm 127: 1, "Unless the Lord builds the  house .....," reminds Rev Paul Dundas of all who as followers of Jesus Christ have sought to build the kingdom in this city over 175 years.  The words of 1 Corinthians 10: 31, "Whatever you do, do it to the glory of God," encourage us all to keep going, and in our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ to seek His honour and glory in our daily lives and in what we share together in the parish.  May the Lord continue to watch over us and guide us as we proclaim in word and deed the good news of Jesus Christ.