Presbyterian Moderator Rt Rev Dr Ian McNie has visited First Larne Presbyterian Church to mark the congregation’s 300th anniversary.
Dr McNie visited the church twice over the weekend as part of the celebrations, firstly as a guest at a congregational dinner on Friday and then to preach on Sunday.
Presbyterianism in Larne can trace its roots back for four centuries, and First Larne Presbyterian Church has existed for the last 300 years.
This special year of celebrations began with a communion service conducted by the then Moderator, the Very Rev Dr Michael Barry, and closed with a service where Dr McNie was the guest preacher.
Throughout the year there have been a number of exhibitions and special services, including Friday’s launch of a book celebrating the anniversary entitled ‘A People on the Move.’
The book focuses on the compelling story of the people, congregation and community over the last 50 years and the times they have lived through.
During this period the congregation moved from an old building to a purpose-built complex, lived through the dark days of the Troubles and experienced the impact on employment as local industry changed.
In recent years, First Larne has revamped its church website and engaged in an oral history project to make sure that the work and witness of past, present and future are not lost.
Reflecting on the longevity of First Larne Presbyterian Church, Dr. McNie said: “It was an honour and a privilege to take part in the special weekend that marked 300 years of the First Larne congregation.
“I have family connections with Larne and served as a summer assistant minister in Craigyhill Presbyterian Church, not far from First Larne, so feel a personal connection to this place.
“Over the weekend I wanted to take the opportunity to encourage the congregation, as they continue to worship God and share His love.
“Their mission statement: ‘We are here to worship God, build up His church and share His love’’ perfectly describes what each generation has aspired to do and be, and which I know they will continue to do.”
The Sunday evening celebration service was open to all, with neighbouring congregations invited to attend.
Dr. McNie spoke and the Ballyclare Male Voice Choir led the praise.
Copies of the book ‘First Larne Presbyterian Church – A People on the Move’ were also made available.
After supper, the Moderator spoke briefly of his recent visit to Malawi and thanked the congregation for the retiring offering, which would be given to a Scripture Union project in Malawi, under the directorship of PCI missionary David McCullagh.