Completion of Murland Mausoleum Restoration

On Wednesday, 4th May 2022 the long delayed final stage of the restoration of the Murland Mausoleum by the Follies Trust at Clough Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church took place. There was a good attendance of people gathered at the event, originally scheduled to take place in March 2020 but inevitably cancelled at the start of the lockdown. The meeting included a short service of thanksgiving for the work of the Follies Trust and the singing of the hymn Praise my soul the King of Heaven, accompanied by Melanie Campbell on the organ. Rev Dr David Steers welcomed everyone and spoke about the history of the Church, and introduced Dr Finbar McCormick who gave  a fascinating talk on the restoration of the Murland Vault and the history and place of mausolea as places of burial in Ireland. Primrose Wilson, chair of the Follies Trust, thanked everyone involved, especially Noel Killen who had carried out the restoration of the monument, and invited everyone to Ballydugan Mill where the launch of the Trust’s new book Fifteen Years of the Follies Trust took place.

Dr Finbar McCormick in the pulpit at Clough
After the service of thanksgiving in the Church

At the back of the mausoleum

Dr Finbar McCormick, Primrose Wilson, Rev Dr David Steers
Finbar McCormick with Clough members

Ballydugan Mill, itself restored from a ruin by Noel Killen

Book launch at the Mill

Noel Killen and David Rooney

With thanks to Sue Steers for the photos.

The Road to Emmaus

A short meditation for Low Sunday

Recorded for the Sunday after Easter including reflection on the dawn service held on the village green by Dunmurry Churches Together. With Jack Steers on the trumpet playing Easter Hymn (Jesus Christ is risen today). With a reading from Luke ch.4 v.13-35. Click on the video above to see this reflection.

Lord of the Emmaus Road…walk with us Lord, listen to our story, and let us hear your story, straight from the empty tomb.

Holy Week 2022

A couple of short acts of worship to mark Holy Week, 2022:

Some music for Palm Sunday. Four pieces plus an introduction played by the organists of Dunmurry and Ballee for a Palm Sunday service:

Four Hymns for Palm Sunday

Hymns played by Allen Yarr (Dunmurry) and John Strain (Ballee).

How deep the Father’s love, introduction played by Allen Yarr. King of glory, King of Peace, played by John Strain. Ride on, ride on, in majesty, played by Allen Yarr. When I survey the wondrous Cross, played by Allen Yarr. Now thank we all our God, played by John Strain. Filmed at First Presbyterian (NS) Church, Dunmurry and Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church.

Image: ‘The Entry of Christ into Jerusalem’ (1320) by Pietro Lorenzetti. A fresco in the south transept of the Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

A short prayer and meditation for Good Friday:

Good Friday 2022

Rev Dr David Steers, First Dunmurry (NS) Presbyterian Church. (Source: John Pritchard ‘The Second Intercessions Handbook’. Images the crypt and a side altar (also at the top of this page) at the Metropolitan Cathedral, Liverpool).

Installation at Dunmurry

The Service of Installation at Dunmurry on Saturday, 26th March was a wonderful occasion and thank you again to everyone who took part and everyone in the Church who made the event possible. You can read a full report of the service with pictures on the First Dunmurry blog here.

Some of the participants after the service outside the McCleery Hall

There is a full audio recording of the service:

and also an online recording of the Statement of Principles and Objects:

Unfortunately the Moderator of Presbytery, Rev Stephen Reain-Adair, was prevented from being present by a positive test for Covid. We wish him a full recovery and thank the Very Rev Robert McKee who stood in as Moderator at the last minute.

The flowers in the Hall reflected the colours of the national flag of Ukraine and thank you to Elma McDowell and her team for their work in the Hall and the Church.

A retiring collection for the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal has raised £460.

Transactions of the Unitarian Historical Society April 2022

The issue for 2022 (vol 28 No.1) will be with subscribers shortly and once again this is a very full and very special issue because members will receive two journals for their subscription. Part One contains three important articles plus reviews and more, Part Two is produced in collaboration with the Reckoning International Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist Histories Project.

Part One

The cloisters, Ullet Road Church Liverpool

In Part One our main articles look at Unitarianism, slavery and philanthropy. A number of Unitarians were actively involved in the abolition of slavery. One very prominent example of this was William Roscoe whose memorial is located in the cloisters in Ullet Road Church, a set of buildings constructed at the end of the nineteenth and start of the twentieth centuries which perfectly illustrate the enormous philanthropic contributions of wealthy Unitarians at this time.

‘Jewel Case’ – The Man and his Money Derek McAuley

Very Rev George Case, MA, DD (used with permission of Clifton Diocesan Archives)

Derek McAuley traces the story of the Very Rev George Case whose journey from the Anglican to Catholic priesthood was followed by a very generous bequest to the Unitarian movement. His father was a contemporary of William Roscoe in Liverpool but unlike Roscoe he was deeply implicated in the slave trade. Using modern tools and databases Derek examines the source of Dr Case’s wealth.

Reflections on a Window Rory Delany

The Wilson Memorial Window, Dublin Unitarian Church (Photo: Rory Delany)

The most prominent and striking window within Dublin Unitarian Church, St Stephen’s Green is the Wilson Memorial Window which memorializes Thomas Wilson, long standing member of the congregation and generous benefactor. In this article Rory Delany looks at the source of Thomas Wilson’s wealth, again using the databases and records which have become available and which highlight those families involved in the slave trade. He contrasts Thomas Wilson’s attitudes and business interests with his contemporary and fellow church member James Haughton who was a noted anti-slavery campaigner.

Unitarians and Philanthropy 1860-1914 Alan Ruston

Looking towards the library at Harris Manchester College

Alan Ruston gives a substantial survey of Unitarian philanthropy between 1860 and 1914. Many wealthy Unitarians gave vast sums to build churches, establish charities and develop educational institutions such as Manchester College (see above) which was founded in 1786 in Manchester but moved to Oxford in 1893 following a number of very generous donations.

Books Reviewed

Reviewed by David Wykes, Alan Ruston and David Steers

Part Two

The ethnographic composition of Hungary in 1910 (Map: Lehel Molnár)

Part Two of this issue develops the successful initial event of the Reckoning International U/UU Histories Project which was entitled ‘Transylvanian Unitarians Resisting and Surviving in Authoritarian Times’ and which took place on Thursday, 4 November 2021. This can be viewed online at the Starr King School for the Ministry YouTube channel (https://youtu.be/ozH1fnDkSHk).

The dismemberment of Hungary by the Treaty of Trianon (Map: Lehel Molnár)

We are very pleased to be able to carry in this issue an introduction and summary of the whole Reckoning project compiled by its co-ordinators Claudia Elferdink and Lehel Molnár This is followed by two articles which are not transcripts of the original webinar but which give additional insight and information on the experience of Hungarian Unitarians over the last one hundred years, particularly following the Communist takeover in Romania after the Second World War. The first of these is ‘The Hungarian Unitarian Church in the Twentieth Century’ by Sándor Kovács and Lehel Molnár, an explanation of the struggles of the church from the Treaty of Trianon – when Hungary lost two thirds of its historic territory – to the present century. This is followed by ‘Resistance or/and Compromise. The Struggles and Service of Unitarian Bishop Elek Kiss (1888–1971) in Communist Romania’ by Sándor Kovács which gives a very detailed view of the problems and stresses experienced by the church in the Communist era.

The ethnographic compostion of Hungary in 1880

New subscribers are very welcome, annual membership costs only £10. If you haven’t yet taken out a subscription or would like to renew your subscription that can be done through the Society’s treasurer who can be contacted via the Unitarian Historical Society website here.

Silent yet eloquent memorials

Starting off on the tour

On Wednesday, 23rd March a group from the four Belfast Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Churches enjoyed an excellent visit to the Belfast City Cemetery. We were blessed by good weather, almost like a summer’s day, which showed off the whole site to its fullest advantage. Designed in the shape of a bell and opened in 1869 it has been the burial place of approximately 225,153 people ranging from the some of the poorest members of society, buried in paupers’ graves, to some of the wealthiest merchants, industrialists and businessmen of Victorian Belfast. Years of neglect and vandalism obscured the importance of the cemetery in the city’s history for a long time, but the remarkable work done by Tom Hartley on the graves and history of the cemetery, not least reflected in his book Belfast City Cemetery, has opened up the cemetery to a wider and appreciative public. It is good too to see the construction of a visitors’ centre and the restoration of some of the larger memorials. Tom Hartley has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the history and significance of the site and was our informative guide as he showed us round a large proportion of the original Victorian graveyard, so attractively laid out with the Belfast hills providing a dramatic backdrop. Tom made special reference to some of the Presbyterian and Non-Subscribing Presbyterian graves in the cemetery and we encountered the last resting places of some familiar figures from our tradition. Among others we saw the grave of Margaret Byers, the founder of Victoria College, and Elisha Scott, legendary Liverpool goalkeeper. Cemeteries are such important repositories of history: funeral monuments, grave inscriptions, memorial artwork all tell us a great deal and in this case Belfast City Cemetery provides a fascinating window into the growth, development and history of Belfast as a city. After the tour we had lunch at Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich. Below are some images of what we saw:

The grave of Rev John Scott Porter (Biblical scholar, theologian and Belfast Non-Subscribing minister) and his brother William Porter, attorney general at the Cape Colony who introduced a franchise into the colony that extended the vote, at the time, to all people irrespective of race.
View across the cemetery showing the memorial to John Kirker (1891) on the right in the form of an ornamental Celtic Cross carved from a single piece of limestone.
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Tom Hartley at the grave of Lord and Lady Pirrie. William Pirrie was a leading Belfast politician and shipbuilder, chairman of Harland and Wolff and responsible for the building of the ‘Titanic’. His wife Margaret Montgomery Pirrie was a significant figure in her own right, closely involved in the establishment of the Royal Victoria Hospital and a granddaughter of the Rev Henry Montgomery of Dunmurry.
Another nineteenth-century Celtic Cross containing ancient religious imagery including, in this case, the Ouroboros (at the bottom of the Cross), the snake consuming its own tail.
The infamous location in the cemetery where an underground wall, six feet tall, divided what were planned to be the Catholic and Protestant plots.
The grave of Elisha Scott, Belfast born Liverpool goalkeeper who played for the club for 22 years and made 468 appearances for Liverpool (which undoubtedly would have been more but for the First World War). He finished his career as a highly successful player-manager of Belfast Celtic until sectarian violence brought about the closure of that club.

Nation shall not lift up sword against nation

We continue to pray for Ukraine and offer up our Reflections on the situation in Ukraine created by the invasion by Russian forces.

At Dunmurry we organised a collection of warm clothing, non-perishable food, medical supplies and toiletries to send to Ukrainian refugees in Poland. The response from the church and wider community was heartening. In the space of a week two van loads of goods were sent but we are aware that this is only the start of the crisis; the number and needs of refugees will only increase, the difficulties faced by so many people inside Ukraine and now exiled outside the nation’s borders will grow. There will be a need for considerable action by governments in the West.

Collection for Ukraine at Dunmurry
This week’s Reflections

Our March Reflections look at Nation shall not lift up sword against nation (Isaiah ch.2 v.4), particulalrly in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Led by Rev Dr David Steers at Dunmurry the organist is John Strain (Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church) who plays the hymn Lord of all Hopefulness.

In our prayers we include the ‘World Peace Prayer’:

Lead me from death to life,
from falsehood to truth;
lead me from despair to hope,
from fear to trust;
lead me from hate to love,
from war to peace.
Let peace fill our heart,
our world, our universe.

Amen

Collection for Ukraine

With an estimated one million refugees now having fled Ukraine into neighbouring countries there is desperate need for help for those people – mostly women and children – who have had to leave their homeland to get away from the fighting.

This week’s video has been brought forward so that we can give an update on what has been achieved so far in our Collection for Ukraine. First of all thank you to all those people who have already supported the appeal, the response has been magnificent. There is still time to donate if you wish to, items can be delivered up to and including Sunday, 6th March.

This week’s online Reflections shares the latest news of the appeal.

Collection for Ukraine

The hymn sung at the start and end of the video is called ‘Prayer for Ukraine’. The first verse translates as:

Lord, oh the Great and Almighty,
Protect our beloved Ukraine,
Bless her with freedom and light
Of your holy rays.


Click on the short video above to find out about our Collection for Ukraine.

Can you help?

We are collecting donations that will be sent and distributed to Ukrainian refugees and those impacted by the current invasion. All items can be left in the Dunmurry McCleery Hall (main entrance) up until Sunday 6th March. Items requested include:

– Warm clothes for children or adults
– Sleeping bags or blankets
– First aid supplies
– Toiletries
– Non perishable food items.

For more information, please message First Dunmurry NS Presbyterian Church on Facebook directly.

Our response to the situation in Ukraine

We are currently witnesses to an almost unbelievable situation with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Air strikes, tanks, missiles – the invading Russians are using the full force of their military capabilities against the people of the country. Vladimir Putin’s forces have occupied the site of Chernobyl and are clearly intent on trying to capture or lay siege to the capital city. The sight of a forty mile long Russian military convoy making its way towards Kyiv is one that can only induce a sense of utter horror for us, especially when we consider the deaths already of so many men, women and children. At the moment the Russians seem to be intensifying their assault although the resistance in Ukrainian cities is much stronger than the invaders anticipated.

The roof of the University of Kharkiv after being hit by a Russian missile (Photo: BBC)

So far there have been tens of thousands of refugees who have left Ukraine and this could eventually amount to hundreds of thousands, even millions of people. One thing we can do to be of assistance to the people of Ukraine is to send aid to refugees and Emma McCrudden has organised an appeal for this. Further details can be found on First Dunmurry NS Presbyterian Church on Facebook.

Firefighters try to stop the blaze at the University of Kharkiv (Photo: BBC)

Can you help?

We are collecting donations that will be sent and distributed to Ukrainian refugees and those impacted by the current invasion. All items can be left in the Dunmurry McCleery Hall (main entrance) up until Sunday 6th March. Items requested include:

– Warm clothes for children or adults
– Sleeping bags or blankets
– First aid supplies
– Toiletries
– Non perishable food items.

For more information, please message First Dunmurry NS Presbyterian Church on Facebook directly.

Lord God,
We ask you to hold the people of Ukraine deep in your heart.
Protect them, we pray;
From violence,
From political gamesmanship,
from being used and abused.
Give, we pray,
the nations of the world the courage
and the wisdom
to stand up for justice
and the courage too,
to dare to care – generously.
Lord in your mercy,
Take from us all,
The tendencies in us
That seek to lord it over others:
Take from us those traits
that see us pursuing our own needs and wants
before those of others.
Teach us how to live in love
And dignity
And respect – following your example.
In your name and for your sake,
Amen

(Prayer from the Faith Impact Forum of the Church of Scotland)

Prayers for these times

Pray for Ukraine

God of all,
with alarm and concern we bring before you
the military intervention in Ukraine.

In a world you made for peace and flourishing,
we lament the use of armed force.

We mourn every casualty of this conflict,
every precious life extinguished by war.
We pray comfort for those who grieve
and those who are fearful.

Hear our longing that leaders and nations
will honour the worth of all people
by having the courage
to resolve conflict through dialogue.

May all our human failings be transformed
by your wonderful grace and goodness.

We ask this in the name of Christ,
the author of peace and sustainer of Creation.
Amen.

(A Prayer from the Joint Public Issues Team of of the United Reformed Church, Methodist Church and Baptist Union)

We also have two new Reflections on our YouTube channel:

Available from 8.00 am on Sunday, 27th February

Reflections on Transfiguration

First Presbyterian (Non-Subscribing) Church, Dunmurry

Rev Dr David Steers

Pianist: Allen Yarr

Hymn: ‘Praise to the Lord the Almighty’

Reading: Matthew ch.17 v.1-13

Includes reflection on the situation in Ukraine.

Wisdom

Reflections on Wisdom

First Presbyterian (Non-Subscribing) Church, Dunmurry

Rev Dr David Steers

Organist: John Strain (Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church)

Reading: Psalm 90