New Church Building for the CPRC in N.
Rev. Angus Stewart
"Ichabod! The glory has departed! Let that
never be said of this church!" This was the thrust of Prof. Herman
Hanko's moving sermon at the official dedication of the new church
building of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church (CPRC) in N. Ireland
(5 August, 2010).
The Ballymena congregation was joined on
this special occasion by family and friends, neighbours, our building
contractor and quantity surveyor, as well as saints from the Protestant
Reformed Churches (PRC) in America and the Limerick Reformed Fellowship
(LRF), plus Italy, the Netherlands and Germany. In fact, this was the
first CPRC service attended by Anganeta Dyck from Duisburg, Germany,
since she moved to N. Ireland to join the church.
The evening began with a tape cutting
ceremony, with Profs. Engelsma and Hanko cutting the red ribbon at the
main entrance, thereby declaring the building officially open for the
service of the Triune God. Moving inside, our two honoured guests
unveiled the dedicatory plaque in the narthex or foyer. The cameraman
from a local paper was on hand, along with others from the PRC and CPRC,
to take the requisite photos of both opening ceremonies.
An eager crowd filled the sanctuary for the
service, with even a few chairs being brought in. Rev. Angus Stewart
explained that this new church was erected through faith, the believing
perseverance of a body of saints through many trials and much
opposition. Money was also required—the generous giving of the CPRC over
many years, the support of our sister church in N. America, the PRC, and
the Wellington Protestant Reformed Fellowship in New Zealand, as well as
the Lord's people from all parts of the British Isles, continental
Europe, Australia, etc. Of course, the building is also the product of a
lot of work. Appreciation was expressed to all who helped in this
regard, especially Tommy Hamill, the CPRC building project manager, as
well as those who organised the evening.
Elder Pete Van Der Schaaf of Faith PRC, on
his third visit to N. Ireland, conveyed greetings from the Synod of the
PRC, and Prof. David Engelsma, who has been of immense support to the
CPRC over many years, brought greetings from himself and his wife.
The programme of the service is on-line. From it one can link to
photos (both of the dedication evening and
development of the
over the previous months) and
video highlights (including the greetings), as well as the
audio of Prof.
Hanko's stirring address on "Ichabod."
After the meeting, the ladies provided tea,
sandwiches and slices of the special cakes decorated to mark the
occasion. Knowing that the open space in the balcony would not be large
enough, we also served some of the people downstairs in the Bible study
A great night was enjoyed by all. May there be many such blessed
meetings in our new building in the years ahead!
Our own church building was over 22 years
in coming. Some 12 years ago, we bought a piece of land of approximately
¾ acre at the west end of Clarence Street off the Cullybackey Road in
Ballymena. First, we had to pay off the loan we had taken to purchase
the land. Then we started saving to build on it.
The total area of our new building is 432m2
or 516 square yards. The downstairs consists of two main parts, both 12
metres by 12 metres or roughly 13 yards by 13 yards. One part is the
sanctuary for public worship that will hold up to 130 people. The other
part includes the Bible study room, the kitchen (with cooker, fridge,
dishwasher, etc.), three WCs (for males, females and disabled, the last
fitted with baby-changing facilities) with sensors for turning on the
lights, the crèche and the boiler room, with another room containing the
oil tank. From the crèche or cry room, one can see into the main hall
through sound-proof glass. A speaker carries the audio from the worship
service into the crèche.
Half of the downstairs is vaulted: the main
auditorium or sanctuary. A lift or stairs takes one from the other half
to the first floor which includes the council room, the catechism room
with a bathroom and the gallery from which people can see down into the
main hall through a double-glazed screen.
The main car park is tarmacked; the
overflow car park is stoned. The disabled or elderly are well cared for
with special parking spaces, a disabled toilet and a lift to the
The sanctuary has very comfortable pews (through the good work of the
building committee) in the back of which are the Psalm books and the
green, hardback book,
The Confessions and the Church Order of the Protestant Reformed Churches.
The pews are fanned to face the pulpit so that people don't have to
crane during the service. Nobody wants a stiff-necked congregation!
An attractive, wooden bookcase adorns the
narthex, displaying Reformed Free Publishing Association books,
PRC pamphlets and
box sets of CPRC CDs and DVDs.
After we pay off the remaining bills, we
hope to save up to install facilities on the balcony for live webcasting
of our services. This would be of great help to our members who are sick
on the Lord's Day and our friends in the British Isles and Europe, as
well as providing a witness to the biblical and Reformed faith which we
So now, after almost a quarter of a
century, our congregation has a church home—thanks to the goodness of
our covenant God! Some wondered if they would live to see the day, but
Christ is faithful to us! As Prof. Hanko preached, may "Ichabod" never
be written above our church's doors!