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Islandmagee Methodist Church

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 1829 [unknown]
Location: Ballymoney, Islandmagee, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, United Kingdommap
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History

The first Methodist meetings on Islandmagee were held in February 1800 by Lorenzo Dow, a candidate for the American Methodist ministry. On 7th June 1812 there was a visit by Rev. Adam Averell, a Methodist Minister and one of the founders of the Irish Primitive Wesleyan Society. He preached at Mr Leard (Laird)'s house and had a large congregation. At the Methodist Conference of 1826, the Rev. Alexander Mackey was appointed superintendent minister of Carrickfergus Circuit which included Islandmagee and he set about building churches. He was responsible for Larne in 1827, Ballyclare in 1828 and Hydepark and Islandmagee in 1829.


Islandmagee Methodist Church was built by general subscription at a cost of £565 on a site in the townland of Ballymoney generously donated by James Milliken. It is a single storey slated building, 47ft long by 36ft wide. The door is in the south end and there are eight semi-circular windows. There is seating for approximately 300 people.

In addition to the Circuit Ministers there was a supply of local preachers who were responsible for the Sunday services. Rev. Alexander Mackey had promised that in addition to the Chapel there would also be provision for a school alongside the Chapel. Initially it was held in the church but in late 1861 a school house and teacher's residence were erected in the church grounds. The cost was met by a grant from the Education Fund of the Irish Methodist Church supplements by local subscriptions. The school was opened on 3rd February 1862 when Mr James Earls, a native of Larne, took on the role of principal and in April it officially became a National School. At one point there were over 100 pupils on the roll and the building was in use until 1925. Mr Earls was one of the pillars of Islandmagee Methodism during this period. In addition to school principal he was the Sunday School Superintendent. He was a member of the Circuit Quarterly meeting and also a local preacher. Outside of the church he was a member of Larne Rural District Council and the Larne Board of Guardians. He was one of the founders of the Islandmagee Good Templars' Lodge, a temperance organisation, which built a new hall at Whitey's Hiil in 1873. James died in August 1922.

In 1899 the stewardships of the church were held by James Earls, Alexander Ross, Thomas B Milliken, James Aiken and John Hill. Alexander Ross was succeeded by his son Robert T Ross of the Park, Islandmagee but he died at a relatively early age in 1909. His duties were then undertaken by Mrs Ross for several years and after she resigned she was succeeded by Miss Annie Dick, daughter of the late Captain Dick of the Post Office. She worked as Joint Society Steward with R T Ferris. Alexander Ross, son of Robert T Ross became Pew Steward. The Milliken family continued their connection with the church through Mrs Sarah Milliken, widow of John Milliken of Ballymoney, Islandmagee, who was Pew Steward until her death in 1923. Her son Jack Milliken became Envelope Steward.

Sources

  • Islandmagee Methodist Church Historical Souvenir 1829-1979. John D Deane. Published by the Methodist Church in Ireland 1979.
  • Islandmagee Methodism 1829-1929 by F J Cole.
  • History of Islandmagee by Dixon Donaldson p129. Published by the author in 1927. Facsimile reprint by Islandmagee Community Development Association in 2002.




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