First Larne gets ready for 300th anniversary

A group from First Larne Presbyterian planting the Rowan Tree after the church moved from its former location on Bridge Street in 1978. The tree still stands.  INLT 36-678-CON
A group from First Larne Presbyterian planting the Rowan Tree after the church moved from its former location on Bridge Street in 1978. The tree still stands. INLT 36-678-CON

Preparations are underway at First Larne Presbyterian Church to celebrate its 300th anniversary as a separate congregation next year.

While the exact date of the anniversary is not known, a series of special events are in the pipeline throughout 2015 to mark the milestone – ranging from an anniversary service and congregational dinner, to an oral history project and memorabilia display.

Rev Colin McClure of First Larne told the Times that the commemoration would be kicking off on the first Sunday of 2015, with a special Communion service conducted by the Very Rev Michael Barry – moderator of the General Assembly and a former assistant minister at First Larne.

He added: “In 1965, Rev Eric Stewart, the then minister of First Larne, prepared a history of the church for the 250th anniversary.

“We will be updating this by focusing on the last 50 years.

“The church will be launching a new book featuring stories from members of our congregation, including important events in their lives and in the town of Larne as a whole over the past five decades.

“For the church, one of the most important events during this period was our move from the building on Bridge Street to our current location on Inver Road.

“Also, a number of young people will be using cameras and microphones to record an oral history from our older members, preserving some of their memories .”

In June, First Larne hopes to hold a historical exhibition, featuring old photographs, artefacts and other memorabilia, to be put on display in the church hall.

And to provide a lasting memorial, a group of women in the church plan to produce a banner which will go on permanent display.

Rev McClure added: “The aim of all these projects is to reflect First Larne life over the last 50 years and we hope as many people as possible will take part.

“The history of any church is not just about the ministers, the buildings or the big events. It’s about the people,

“Everyone who is part of our church has their own unique memories and we want everyone to come forward and share these.”