Millisle and Ballycopeland Presbyterian Church: A Short History

History of the Congregation of Ballycopeland.

The Congregation of Ballycopeland was erected or organized in the year 1773. The Church was most probably built in the same year. The members of the newly-formed congregation requested the Anti-Burgher Secession Presbytery of Moira and Lisburn to receive them under the Presbytery's care and jurisdiction, and the prayer of those requesting such care was granted. A list of candidates was soon made out, and a unanimous call was forwarded early in September, 1773, to the Rev. Alexander Grier, minister of the Secession Congregation of Hill-Hall. Mr. Grier accepted the call, and was installed in Ballycopeland on 21st October, 1773. When Mr. Grier received the call to Ballycopeland he also received a request from the Presbyterian Congregation of Millisle. The members of Millisle Congregation expressed the wish that he should undertake pastoral duty for them In addition to the duty devolving upon him as minister of Ballycopeland. Mr. Grier agreed, and commenced duty in both congregations immediately after his acceptance of the call.

Mr. Grier's ministry in Ballycopeland was a brief and troubled one. The Minutes of the Anti-Burgher Secession Synod state that the Presbytery of Moira and Lisburn, at its meeting on 9th March, 1775 deposed the Rev. Alexander Grier from the office of the ministry in Millisle Secession Church, i.e., Ballycopeland.

It is interesting to note that in the records of Synod and Presbytery, Ballycopeland Congregation is at first described as "Millisle Secession Congregation," and sometimes Millisle is spelled "Miln Isle." The other congregation of Millisle, which was under the care of the General Synod of Ulster, was distinguished by the name of "Millisle Presbyterian Congregation."

Mr. Grier refused for a time to do as the Presbytery had directed. He remained on active duty until 1777. It would further appear that, after giving up the charge of the pastorate in 1777, he was invited by the people on a number of occasions to return, and to officiate as their minister. Mr. Grier returned, and conducted services, and administered the Sacraments, when requested to do so. This confidence of the people in their minister, and their affection for him, had a good effect upon the Presbytery, and Mr. Grier was restored to the office of the Ministry, but not to the pastorate of Ballycopeland, at some time between 1777 and the 30th August, 1781.

The Presbytery had declared the Ballycopeland pulpit vacant early in 1775, but owing to Mr. Grier's continuance in office, and to the desire of the people that he should remain as their minister, a successor could not be chosen. The choice in the end lay with the people, and not with the Presbytery, and it was not until 1779 that they could be persuaded to hear candidates for the vacancy, and to call one of these to be their second minister. A call was at last made out, and forwarded to the Rev. John Hutton, of Greenloaning, near Dunblane, Perthshire, Scotland. Mr. Hutton accepted the call, and was installed as minister of Ballycopeland on 26th May, 1779. Mr. Hutton was a "faithful minister and beloved of his people, whom he visited with great regularity. Amiable in his disposition and venerable in his appearance, he commanded the respect and won the hearts of the congregation. As a preacher he was distinguished for his plainness of speech and for the clearness with which he explained the Holy Scriptures."

When Mr. Hutton had been five years in the pastorate of Ballycopeland, the position of the congregation was greatly strengthened, and the minister was helped and encouraged, by a grant from the Royal Bounty. A paper in the Office of Records, Dublin, gives a list of the Secession ministers who, in 1784, received the Royal Bounty, or Regium Donum, when the grant was first made to the Secession Church. Mr. Hutton's name appears in the list, and from this time forward he received a welcome annual addition to the stipend paid by the congregation.

Ballycopeland Church

In 1786 the Congregation of Ballycopeland was transferred from the care of the Anti-Burgher Presbytery of Moira and Lisburn to that of the Anti-Burgher Presbytery of Belfast.

In 1788 the Congregation of Ballycopeland was transferred from the care and jurisdiction of the Associate (Anti-Burgher) Synod of Scotland to the care and jurisdiction of the Associate (Anti-Burgher) Synod in Ireland. Mr. Hutton was honoured by his brethren nine years later, when they elected him Moderator of the latter Synod for the year 1797-1798. In 1809, when "the Secession Congregations were divided into classes for the allotment of their increased Royal Bounty, or Regium Donum, Ballycopeland was placed in the Third Class, and thus entitled to a yearly grant of 40 Irish, or 36 18s. 6d. British money. (Later on the congregation was advanced to the Second Class, which brought the minister 50 Irish, or 46 3s. 1d. British money). The classification was based on the number of members in the congregation, and the amount of stipend they contributed."

In 1818 the Congregation of Ballycopeland was transferred from the care of the Associate (Anti-Burgher) Synod in Ireland, and placed under the care of "The Presbyterian Synod of Ireland, distinguished by the name Seceders." The latter was commonly called the Secession Synod.

In the same year (1818) the Congregation of Ballycopeland was transferred from the care and jurisdiction of the Anti-Burgher Presbytery of Belfast.

On 25th March, 1823, the Rev. John Hutton died, in the forty-fourth year of his ministry in Ballycopeland. The "Belfast News-Letter," in its issue of 4th April, 1823, pays the following tribute to him: "He was a man of true piety, and exemplary character, and esteemed and beloved by all who knew him."

On 8th October, 1823, the Rev. Isaiah Steen was ordained to the office of the ministry in Ballycopeland Church by the Secession Presbytery of Belfast. Mr. Steen spent nine busy years as minister of Ballycopeland. He was a most efficient worker, a scholarly preacher, and a beloved pastor. He resigned his charge of Ballycopeland in 1832, having been appointed Headmaster of the Mathematical Department of the Royal Academical Institution in Belfast.

On 3rd April, 1833, the Rev. John Lawrence Rentoul was ordained to the office of the ministry in Ballycopeland Church. Mr. Rentoul was a man of decided views and endowed with great mental and spiritual gifts. He was an orator who claimed and commanded attention. It was characteristic of him that when several calls came to him from other congregations, he selected the smallest congregation as his future field of service, and the place which bristled with the greatest difficulties and discouragements. After four fruitful years of ministry in Ballycopeland he resigned the charge, in May, 1837, and was installed in Ballymoney Session Church on 16th May, 1837.

On 9th May, 1838, the Rev. Samuel James Moore was ordained as minister of Ballycopeland Congregation. Mr. Moore had a difficult task as successor to such gifted predecessors, but he proved himself equal to the duties devolving upon him, and to the expectations that had been entertained by those who called him to be their minister.

In the year 1838 the Congregation of Ballycopeland was transferred from the care of the Secession Presbytery of Belfast to the care of the Secession Presbytery of Ards.

In 1840 the Congregation of Ballycopeland was received under the care of the Presbytery of Ards, in connection with the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

In 1840 "the Presbyterian Synod of Ireland, distinguished by the name Seceders" (commonly called the Secession Synod), was united with the General Synod of Ulster. The union of these Synods resulted in the formation and commencement of the "General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland." Since 1840 the Congregation of Ballycopeland has been a congregation in connection with the Assembly, under the care and jurisdiction of the Synod of Belfast.

Up to the time of the ordination of the Rev. S. J. Moore in 1838, the written records of the Congregation of Ballycopeland were few and meagre. With the one exception of the Register of Baptisms, the books kept by the ministers and members only record a few of the many matters that concern the welfare of the Church they loved and sought to serve. Mr. Moore however kept during his ministry a full and accurate account of the activities of the congregation in the different departments of its life and work. The Register of Baptisms records the names of the children baptized by him, with all necessary and relevant particulars in the case of each, and the Record thus kept ends with these words:-- "May these sixty-five children, baptized in the Church in Ballycopeland. during my seven years' ministry there. be all baptized with the Holy Ghost! S. J. Moore. September, 1845."

Mr. Moore commenced a private Register of Marriages in 1838, and kept this record until the year 1845, when the Government made it compulsory for all Presbyterian ministers in Ireland to record the marriages solemnized by them.

Mr. Moore also recorded the annual contributions of the congregation to Home and Foreign Missions, and to all the different funds of the Presbyterian Church. The accounts thus kept by him show that the members of Ballycopeland were then in a prosperous condition, and that the people were most generous in their Support of every worthy cause.

The most interesting of all the written statements regarding the congregation is surely one bearing the date 1843. In this year, we are informed, the Congregation of Ballycopeland consisted of seventy-five families, and there were two hundred and ninety-six persons in the seventy-five families. Mr. Moore gives the names of all these members, men, women, and children, with only three omissions. The latter names were probably omitted because they were those of infants who had not yet "received their names in the ordinance of baptism." The following is a complete list of the names, the numbers having reference to the families, with some words by Mr. Moore as introduction: "List of the Ballycopeland Presbyterian Congregation in the year 1843:--

1. Letitia Adams, Jane Adams, John Adams, Patrick Adams, Mary Adams, James Adams, Andrew Adams, William Adams, Letitia Adams.

2. William Armstrong, Isabella Armstrong, James Armstrong, Jane Armstrong, Martha Armstrong, Isabella Armstrong.

3. James Allen, Sarah Allen.

4. James Barclay, Eliza Barclay, John Barclay, Mary Barclay, James Barclay, Eliza Barclay, Henry Barclay.

5. Henry Barclay.

6. Jane Barclay, Esther Barclay.

7. Jane Bennett.

8. William Boyd, Susanna Boyd, Isabella Boyd, Hugh Boyd, Alexander Boyd.

9. William Boyd, Isabella Boyd.

10. Jenny Boyd, Jane Boyd, John Boyd, Robert Boyd, Margaret Boyd.

11. David Carmichael, Anne Carmichael, Mary Carmichael, Robert Carmichael, David Carmichael, William Carmichael, Anne Carmichael.

12. William Carmichael, Jane Carmichael.

13. Henry Carmichael, Mary Carmichael, John Carmichael, Lydia Carmichael.

14. John Caughey, Jane Caughey.

15. Samuel Clarke, Joseph Clarke, John Clarke, Eliza Clarke.

16. John Conelly, Anne Conelly, Francis Conelly, Mrs. F. Conelly.

17. John Conelly, Robert Conelly, James Conelly, Margaret Conelly.

18. Isabella Cree, David Cree, John Cree, William Cree, Jane Cree, Eliza Cree.

19. John Davidson, Samuel Davidson, Mary Davidson, William Davidson. Mrs. Wm. Davidson, John Davidson.

20. William Dunn, Mary Dunn, Jane Dunn, John Dunn, Samuel Dunn, Eliza Dunn.

21. John Dill, Margaret Dill, Moore Dill.

22. Jane Edgar.

23. Margaret Ferris.

24. Daniel Gaw, Nancy Gaw, Henry Gaw, Mary Anne Gaw.

25. Jane Gordon, Mary Gordon, Hugh Gordon.

26. John Hutton, James Hutton, Catherine Hutton.

27. Widow Irwin, Eliza Irwin, John Irwin, David Irwin.

28. John Jamieson, Mrs. D. Jamieson, William Jamieson.

29. Ellen Kelly, Arthur Kelly, Jane Kelly.

30. Charles Kirk, Mrs. Kirk, William Kirk, Ellen Kirk, John Kirk, Margaret Kirk.

31. Hance Lemmon, Esther Lemmon, John M'Connell.

32. Isabella Martin.

33. Thomas M'Bride, Mrs. M'Bride, Henry M'Bride, Mary M'Bride, Anne M'Bride, Mary Jane M'Bride, Margaret M'Bride, Thomas M'Bride.

34. John M'Bride, Mrs. John M'Bride.

35. John M'Connell, Sarah M'Connell, Margaret M'Connell, Adam M'Connell, Hugh M'Connell, Eliza Jane M'Connell.

36. John M'Connell, Mrs. M'Connell, Margaret M'Connell, Henry M'Connell, Margaret M'Connell.

37. Mary M'Cready, Thomas M'Cready, Mrs. M'Cready, Robert M'Cready, Thomas M'Cready.

38. Samuel M'Cully, Jane M'Cully, Samuel M'Cully, Mary M'Cully, Anne M'Cully, Bessy M'Cully, James M'Cully, Jane M'Cully, Sarah M'Cully, Rebecca M'Cully.

39. James M'Cullagh: Mrs. James M'Cullagh, Jane M'Cullough, John M'Cullough, Sarah M'Cullough, Esther M'Cullough, James M'Cullough, William McCullough.

40. James M'Hinch, Jane M'Hinch, Margaret M'Hinch.

41. Thomas M'Keag, Mrs. Thomas M'Keag.

42. Robert M'Keag, Mrs. Robert M'Keag, Jane M'Keag, John M'Keag, Mrs. John M'Keag.

43. John M'Keag, Thomas M'Keag, Mrs. Hugh M'Keag, Margaret M'Kie.

44. Ellen Miskelly, Ellen Miskelly, Jane Miskelly.

45. George Miskimmins, Mrs. George Miskimmins, George Miskimmins, Eliza Miskimmins, Mary Anne Miskimmins, Margaret Miskimmins, Agnes Miskimmins, Samuel Miskimmins, Matilda Miskimmins, John Miskimmins.

46. Patrick M'Kay, John M'Kay.

47. John Mullen.

48. Jane Murdoch.

49. Margaret M'Quoid.

50. Hugh Muckle, Mrs. Hugh Muckle, Hugh Muckle, James Muckle.

51. Samuel Nicholson, Mrs. S. Nicholson, William John Nicholson, James Moore Nicholson, Alexander Nicholson.

52. John O'Neill, Mrs. John O'Neill, Esther O'Neill.

53. James O'Neill, Andrew O'Neill, Widow O'Neill.

54. William Punton.

55. Margaret Robinson, James Robinson.

56. Thomas Shanks, Eliza Shanks, Mary C. Shanks, Margaret Shanks, Jane Shanks, Martha Shanks, Eliza Shanks.

57. James Simpson, Margaret Simpson, Ellen Simpson, Hugh Simpson, Samuel Simpson, Rachel Simpson.

58. Henry Small, Mrs. H. Small, Samuel Small, Jane Small.

59. Henry Small, Frances Small, Nancy Small, Christian Small, Agnes Small.

60. Hugh Stuart, Mrs. Stuart, Mary Stuart, Ellen Stuart, Charlotte Stuart.

61. David Tweedie, Mrs. D. Tweedie.

62. John Tweedie, Mrs. John Tweedie, Eliza Tweedie, Alexander Tweedie, Mary Anne Tweedie, Ellen Tweedie, David Tweedie, Hugh Tweedie, Andrew Tweedie, Mrs. A. Tweedie, David Tweedie, James Tweedie.

63. Margaret Wilson, Margaret Wilson.

64. James Walker, Charles White.

65. David Young, Isabella Young, Jane Young, Anne Young.

66. Robert Young, Isabella Young, Mary Young, Jane Young, John Young.

67. Margaret Armstrong, Jane Armstrong, James Cochran.

68. Adam M'Kaig, Mary M'Kaig, Mary M'Kaig, James M'Kaig, Jane M'Kaig, Anne M'Kaig.

69. Robert Johnston, Eliza Johnston.

70. Margaret M'Kaig.

71. Eliza Davidson, James Davidson, Mrs. James Davidson, Mary Davidson, James Davidson, John Davidson, Samuel Davidson.

72. Alexander Dill.

73. Mary Warnock.

74. Hugh Finn.

75. Henry M'Gowan, Mrs. M'Gowan. Rev. S. J. Moore."

 

The Rev. S. J. Moore kept a Communicants' Roll Book, which was annually revised, and which informs the reader fully regarding the admission of communicants, and regarding the reasons (deaths, etc.), why names are removed from the revised lists.

Mr. Moore laboured faithfully in Ballycopeland from 1838 until 8th September, 1845, when he resigned the charge of the congregation, having received a call from the Congregation of Donaghmore, Co. Down.

After the departure of Mr. Moore, the congregation of Ballycopeland was vacant for nine months. At the end of this time Mr. Robert Black became its minister. He was ordained to the pastorate on 10th June, 1846. Mr. Black was a good minister of Jesus Christ, a lover of the poor, and a constant friend. He was greatly beloved by the people of Ballycopeland.

Mr. Black began his ministry at a difficult time. The potato famine of 1846 and 1847 was beginning to make itself felt throughout the country. Many of the people went to America, and the whole of Ireland suffered greatly. The population of the Ballycopeland district was much reduced during the ten years that followed.Instead of prosperity there was distress. Where there had been bread enough and to spare there were now want and hunger, and dire distress. Mr. Black was, during these hard years, a true friend to all who had need of help. The help that he received was of necessity small, and it became smaller still. The stipend received by him in quarterly payments during the first year of his ministry in Ballycopeland was as follows: July Quarter, 1846, 10 0s 0d.; October Quarter, 1846, 3 2s. 6d.; December Quarter, 1846, 8 15s. 0d.; March Quarter, 1847, 8 15s. 0d. Total for year, 30 12s. 6d.

For some time after Mr. Black's ordination as minister of Ballycopeland he resided in Donaghadee. He afterwards resided in different places in lodgings in the country. The members of the congregation saw that the want of a residence for their minister was causing him both inconvenience and expense, and they decided to build a Manse as near the Church as possible. A portion of ground was taken from Mr. David Carmichael, who granted it on generous terms. On this ground a Manse was built in the year 1850. Owing to the prevailing distress it was the desire of the minister that his residence should not be an expensive one. To build or to maintain a large Manse would be, he declared, a most unwise and indeed impracticable procedure. The result was that at a small cost a modest cottage was built. Though modest in size and design, it was beautiful for situation, facing the sea, near to the main road and the Church, and surrounded by suitable grounds.

The cost of the Manse was small, but the money necessary to meet the cost was not raised for a considerable time. The families connected with the congregation contributed as generously as possible, but it was not until four years afterwards that the debt incurred was cleared off. In the year 1854 it was found that the Church building required repairs, and it was decided that the debt on the Manse should be paid before commencing additional work. A fund, called the "Church and Manse Fund," was started, and soon afterwards needful repairs to the Church were carried out, and both Manse and Church were free of all debt. The following contributions were given in aid of the above-mentioned fund:--

sd
Rev. Robert Black500
Mr. William Carmichael500
Mr. David Carmichael1000
Mr. David Carmichael, junior1000
Mr. Henry Carmichael500
Mrs. D. Carmichael500
Miss Carmichael300
Miss M'Coubry150
Mr. Francis Conolly200
Mr. Edward Robinson150
Mr. William Kennedy150
Miss Stoop0126
Mr J. Hutton100
Mrs. M'Kaig (Ballyhay)0100
Mr. John McConnell0100
Mr. Joseph Clarke0100
Total amount subscribed49176

 

The Communicants' Roll Book of the Congregation of Ballycopeland records the fact that, in the last year of Rev. Robert Black's ministry in the congregation, seventy members were present at the observance of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. The following is an exact copy of the entry in the Roll Book:--

"Names of Communicants who attended the Ordinance, September 25th, 1859.

Thomas M'Bride, James Barclay, John M'Connell } Elders.

Margaret Simpson, Mrs. Mary Hunter Mrs. Jane Dill, William Caughey, Mary Anne Hunter, Louisa Hunter, John Davidson, Mary Robson, John Brown, Christian Small, Agnes Small, Elizabeth Gibson, John M'Donnell, Mrs. Jane M'Donnell, Mrs. Jane Young, Mrs. Mary M'Comb, Mrs. Jane Tweedie, Mrs. Jane Gordon, Mrs. Mary Meekan, --- Deible, Mrs. Jane Douglass, Jane Cree, Mrs. Eliza Johnston, Jane Boyd, Andrew Adams, Thomas Adams, Margaret M'Cready, David Jamison, Mrs. Mary Jamison, Mrs. Eliza Robinson, Margaret M'Connell, Mrs. Eliza M'Auley, Sarah M'Auley, James M'Hinch, Isabella Boyd, Mrs. Agnes Barclay, Mrs. Margaret Gordon, John M'Keag, Mrs. Mary M'Keag, Joseph Clarke, Mary Barclay, Elizabeth Barclay, William Carmichael, Mrs. Jane Carmichael, Mrs. Anne Carmichael, William Carmichael, jun., John M'Connell, jun., James Walker, Mary M'keag, Jane Armstrong, Margaret Stoop, William Armstrong, Mrs. Isabella Armstrong, Mrs. Margaret Punton, Andrew Punton, Margaret Sloan, Jessy Punton, Mrs. Stuart, Martha Stoop, Miss Hutton, Mrs. M'Hinch, Mrs. Kaig, Mrs. Woods, Mrs. Burch, Henry Carmichael, Jane Kerr, Margaret Robson."

In June, 1860, the Rev. Robert Black resigned the pastoral charge of Ballycopeland, having accepted the call to Dundalk. He was installed as minister of Dundalk Congregation on 26th June, 1860. The members of Ballycopeland were exceedingly sorry to part with a pastor who had been with them in the dark days of adversity following the year 1846. He had been their friend in their distress, and just when prosperity was in some measure returning, he decided to leave them. They wished him to stay, if only that they might prove to him, now that it became possible for them to do so, how grateful they were. They wished to show their gratitude in a practical way, but Mr. Black assured them that this was unnecessary. He had known and proved their friendship during his fourteen years of ministry in their midst, and now he asked that the friendship should last, although he was no longer to be their minister. That the friendship did last was abundantly proved in the years that followed, and when Mr. Black died twenty-five years after resigning his charge at Ballycopeland, it was found that he had left by his will a small bequest to the Sabbath School, not so much because of what the money might purchase, as that the children might know that a former pastor loved to his dying day the people of Ballycopeland.

On 27th December, 1860, Mr. John Beatty, a licentiate of the Presbytery of Dromore, was ordained minister of Ballycopeland by the Presbytery of Ards. The choice of the people proved to be the right one -- for them and for him. It has been truly recorded that "no pastor and people ever lived in more complete harmony, mutual confidence, and affection the one for the other. He was their choice in December, 1860, and they were his, and all along to the last the hearts of both were as the hearts of David and Jonathan. They found him, when he came, all they expected -- probably more, and he was happy among them."

In the year 1864 the Rev. John Beatty discovered an old book or register in the home and in the possession of Mr. John Davidson, of Ballyfrenis. This register gave an account of the children baptized in Ballycopeland Presbyterian Church and in connection with Ballycopeland Congregation from the year 1774. The record of baptisms in the Church in 1773 and in the first six months of 1774 was missing from the book, and the first baptism of which record is preserved is that of John M'Connel, infant son of William M'Connel, of Ballybuttel, who was baptized on 3rd July, 1774. The register gives a record of baptisms until the year 1802, when it was mislaid or lost, and when the Rev. John Hutton, then minister of Ballycopeland, began a new register, Mr. Beatty copied the records of the old book into the latter volume, and now the two records are one

Seven years after his ordination Mr. Beatty commenced Sabbath evening services in the village of Millisle. These were held in the newly-erected School, and were well attended. Mrs. William Carmichael presided at the musical instrument, a harmonium, which was used at the services. She also trained the members of the choir, conducting weekly choir practices at her home at Rathmona. When Mr. Beatty was no longer able, owing to illness and infirmity, to be present at these evening services, they were conducted by Mr. David Carmichael.

An afternoon Sabbath School was also held in Millisle School. It commenced for a time at three o'clock, and this was altered to half-past three. The school was closed at half-past four. Mr. Johnston, the principal teacher of the Millisle day school, was regarded as having charge of the Afternoon Sabbath School. He was ably assisted by Mr. John M'Ilroy, Miss Margaret Campbell, Miss Millen, Mr. Henry Barclay, Miss Rowan, Miss Jane Murphy, and other Sabbath School teachers.

The Sabbath Evening Services and the Sabbath School were encouraged and assisted in every way by Mr. David Carmichael and Mr. William Carmichael, and by the members of their families. When these gentlemen left Millisle to reside in Belfast, it was no longer possible for Mr. Beatty to carry on the good work. His health was seriously impaired, and he was reluctantly compelled to discontinue the Services and the Sabbath School, both of which had been the means of much blessing to the district.

Mr. Beatty had, in addition to the Sabbath Evening Services and Afternoon Sabbath School mentioned above. been conducting other religious Services within the bounds of his congregational district. He held Prayer meetings during the summer months, on Wednesday evenings, in one of the out-offices on the farm of Mrs. Agnes Brown, in the town land of Killaughey. These meetings were so successful that for a number of years they were continued after summer had gone, right up to Christmas. A Special Service was during these years held on Christmas Day, and this was the concluding Service of the year. He also conducted Evening Services in Killaughey National School. These were usually held on week nights, as his Sabbath evenings were spent in similar work in Millisle. The Killaughey Services were marked by a fine spirit of enthusiasm, and much abiding good resulted from them.

The earnestness and enthusiasm of Mr. Beatty led him to accept invitations to conduct evangelistic services outside the congregation. He went to many Churches, both in town and in country. and "rejoiced in such opportunities of delivering the message of redeeming love." The young people came from far and near to hear him, and young and old alike were blessed, and brought in many cases to decide for Christ and the Christian life. "Eternity alone will reveal" the good that was wrought, by the grace of God given unto him, by this preacher's message and appeal to the careless and prayerless, the unconvinced, the unconverted, and the unconcerned.

Physical disability however compelled Mr. Beatty to bring to an end all these extra and voluntary services, both inside the congregational area of Ballycopeland, and outside its bounds. The permanent illness from which he suffered had its beginning early in his ministry, commencing when he was only seven years in Ballycopeland. The malady was a form of paralysis, and it gradually increased as the years went on, depriving him more and more of the ability to go about and to visit his people, although he was able to conduct the Sabbath Services in the Church until a few months before his death.

On the 6th August, 1867, less than six months before his illness began, Mr. Beatty was chosen and appointed Clerk of the Presbytery of Ards. Despite infirmity, he held this office until the time of his death, and he was regarded always as a most courteous and efficient Clerk of an important Court of the Church.

In the year 1869, Mr. Thomas M'Bride, for thirty-four years an elder in connection with Ballycopeland Congregation, passed away. His death reduced and weakened the Session, and steps were taken very shortly afterwards to have elders chosen and ordained.

On 14th April, 1870, a Commission of the Ards Presbytery met in Ballycopeland Church for the purpose of ordaining to the office of the eldership Mr. William Carmichael and Mr. William John M'Kee. The members of Commission present were Rev. John M'Auley, sen., Rev. William Clarke, Rev. John Beatty, and Rev. Matthew M'Auley. The Rev. John M'Auley preached from 1. Corinthians xiii., 13, the Rev. William M'Clure offered the ordination prayer, and the Rev. Matthew M'Auley gave the charge to the newly-ordained elders, and to the members of the congregation.

On 17th April, 1870, a meeting of Session was held and Mr. William Carmichael was appointed to the office of Session Clerk.

On 17th November, 1875, Mr. John M'Connell, an elder in the Congregation of Ballycopeland for many years, departed this life. It is recorded of him that "he was a good man, and having served his generation by the will of God, he died, full of hope."

In 1875 the Ballycopeland Manse "was raised and enlarged, and a much-needed porch was added as a buffer against the strong winds and winter storms that often beat upon it from the fronting sea." The work of thus changing the Manse from its cottage form and size to the present commodious residence was done by Mr. Cooper, Builder and Contractor, Newtownards.

It is greatly to be regretted that the Manse, thus rebuilt and improved, and the grounds surrounding it, were lost to the members of Ballycopeland Congregation. The following quotation from a "Brief Memoir of the Rev. John Beatty, by the Rev. G. T. Rea," will serve to explain how this loss to the Church was incurred:-- "The site and about two acres of land had been obtained in perpetuity from Mr. David Carmichael at a merely nominal rent, and it was always understood and firmly believed by all concerned that these would remain for ever the undisputed property of the congregation on the same easy terms. But, unhappily, from an overweening confidence in the future, those who had charge of carrying out the transfer omitted the legal and securing item of registering the deed, with the result that, only a few years before the death of Mr. Beatty, after the surrounding landed property, of which this was a part, passed by sale into other hands, the old grant was annulled, and the whole land under and connected with the Manse fell, deedless, into the possession of the purchaser. Not only so, but the Manse itself, even in its enlarged form, became his lawful property. Being for several years a warm friend of Mr. Beatty and a generous member of his Church, as a personal favour the new owner permitted him to remain undisturbed during his lifetime, and on the original terms, but the transaction, so unexpected and so disastrous to the interests of the congregation, gave him a shock from which he never fully recovered, and in his then greatly weakened condition preyed upon his mind like a nightmare. Next to his own bodily affliction this was the one supreme trial of Mr. Beatty's lifetime."

On 15th September, 1885, the Rev. Robert Black, formerly minister of Ballycopeland, died at Comber, Co. Down. He bequeathed 5 to the Session of Ballycopeland, to be used in providing prizes for the Sabbath School children, the prizes to be warded for the best answering in the Shorter Catechism and in Scripture.

In 1885 the Presbytery of Ards met in Ballycopeland Church for the purpose of the visitation of the congregation. Mr. William John M'Kee and Mr. Wm. Carmichael, J.P., represented the Session, and Mr. Patrick Adams and Mr. John M'Ilroy represented the Committee. The Presbytery arrived at a most favourable finding regarding the different activities of the Congregation, and appointed the Rev. John Rogers, of Ballywalter, to read the finding in Ballycopeland Church and address the people thereon.

In addition to the finding thus arrived at, the Presbytery unanimously adopted the following resolution:-- "In view of the sudden and lamented death of Mr. David Carmichael, J.P., the Presbytery take the opportunity of this their meeting in Ballycopeland, of which Congregation he was so long a member and in the prosperity of which he took so deep and lively an interest, to record their estimate of his great personal worth and of the services he rendered to the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and they tender their heartfelt sympathy to his immediate relatives, especially his widow and bereaved family."

On 10th October, 1889, the Presbytery of Ards met in Ballycopeland Church for the purpose of ordaining to the office of the eldership Messrs. Patrick Adams, Henry Barclay, and James Tweedy. The Rev. Robert T. Megaw, LL.D., of Carrowdore, preached from St. Mark, xv., 22. The Rev. Samuel Walker, of First Donaghadee, stated the scriptural warrant for the office of elder, and for his election and ordination. The Rev. John Beatty offered the ordination prayer. The elders-elect, having answered satisfactorily the prescribed questions, and having subscribed the Westminster Confession of Faith in terms of the Assembly's formula, were solemnly set apart and ordained as elders by the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery. The Rev. William W. Hamilton, LL.D., of Second Donaghadee (now Shore Street Congregation), gave a suitable charge to the elders and congregation, and dismissed the congregation.

In the, year 1898 the Committee of the Congregation decided that it was necessary to build a sea wall or battery extending along the shore side of the site of the Church and graveyard. "The waves had been threatening to wash away both Church and graves." The work of building the wall and battery was undertaken by Mr. John Waugh, of Millisle, who carried out the contract in a most satisfactory way, the present substantial wall being a proof of the good workmanship and materials employed and used in the erection of this important protection of the property of the congregation. The total cost of the erection was 140.

On 28th January, 1906, the Rev. John Beatty, minister of the Congregation, passed away, at the age of seventy-three, having completed forty-five years in the ministry in Ballycopeland. He was a man greatly beloved and revered, and he was greatly missed and mourned.

The vacant Congregation of Ballycopeland was now dealt with by the General Assembly's Committee on the Union of Congregations. At the meeting of the General Assembly held in Belfast in June, 1906, this Union Committee reported to the Assembly that "they had united the Congregations of Millisle and Ballycopeland," so as to form one pastoral charge "They appointed the Rev. S. J. Lyons, of Millisle, minister of the united charge, and suggest that it be called the Congregation of 'Millisle and Ballycopeland.'"

This union of the Congregations was beset by many difficulties, and there was considerable opposition to it on the part of some of the members of Ballycopeland. The union however was adhered to, and as time went on the bond between the two congregations became more and more a bond of abiding friendship, and of increasing strength. The two are now "one in Jesus Christ." Their history has been one of continued prosperity, and it records many blessings bestowed by Him Who is the Great King and Head of the Church, and Who hath said concerning His people: "there shall be one Fold, and one Shepherd."

 

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