Centenary Book of the First Presbyterian Church Portadown

Chapter IV


It is not an easy matter for a congregation ministered to by the same pastor for a period of thirty-five years to choose a new minister. Very few of those who took part in the selection of Mr. Elliott were alive to partake in the choice of his successor. To the Majority it was a new experience. When the time arrived for making a choice from those who had preached it was discovered that the favourite was Mr. R Vint, son of Mr. Jonathan Vint, Belfast, who was ordained 26th January, 1875.

Mr. Vint's short ministry was from its beginning a time of much spiritual uplift. From the statements of those who came under the spell of his influence it may be assumed that he had much of the spirit of R Murray M'Cheyne. Imbued with an intense love for Jesus Christ, he laboured incessantly for conversions amongst his people. Exemplifying in his own person the reality of the Spirit-filled life, he exercised a powerful influence over the members of his flock.

His carefully prepared sermons were thoughtful, earnest and eloquent, and were greatly used of God influencing the minds of the people towards Holy things. It has been the writer's privilege to interview a few people who, after the lapse of forty years, speak in glowing terms of appreciation of his memory. Some recall the pleasure with which they attended the Communicants' class and of the lasting benefits resulting from the lessons then imparted; some of prayers that made them conscious of the real presence of God; some of the teaching of a Bible Class on Sabbath evenings; some of the never-to-be-forgotten visits to the sick and dying. One lady, the daughter of an elder long departed, said that her mother frequently referred to him as "the most ChristIan gentleman she ever knew." Surely the Wise Man spoke truly when he said "The memory of the just is blessed," and the Psalmist when he wrote "The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance."

There are few references in the records of note during Mr. Vint's ministry excepting that a few months after his arrival steps were taken to have a gallery erected. It is somewhat surprising that it should have been thought necessary to undertake this work. The statistics show that the congregation was numerically smaller than for many years previously. The number of families was only 110, compared with 180 ten years earlier, while his first year's income did not exceed £120. At the close of his ministry the number of families had increased to 164, and his income to £170.

Reverting to the Minutes of the Committee, it may not be out of place to state that in common no doubt with most other documents of a similar nature congregational secretaries leave too much to the imagination of those who come after them. After a perusal of hundreds of pages of Minutes, extending over a period of sixty years, one is in a position to express an opinion. More to the point, one is bound to learn a useful lesson and to resolve that so far as such responsibilities fall upon him in future he will strive to frame his Minutes in such an explicit manner that those who read them in after years will experience a feeling of satisfaction.

In the present instance it was a very natural desire to learn the cost of the new gallery. Considering the fact that in the matter of the new manse and afterwards of the new church no such particulars were given, one could not be sanguine. It was not therefore a great surprise to discover that here once more the record is defective. The matter is disposed of thus:-- "There were two special meetings held -- the first to open estimates and to decide on the person to be selected to do the work. After careful consideration it was decided that Mr. M'Connell, of Lurgan, should get the job. At the second meeting it was decided that Mr. Bright get the necessary agreements signed previous to Mr. M'Connell commencing operations."


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