Posts Tagged ‘mission halls’

Lurganearly Mission Hall, County Monaghan

March 28, 2019

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With all the current discussion and fierce debate regarding “Brexit,” I found a recent trip through Irish border areas very interesting. The narrow country roads I traversed that day meandered, sometimes north of the border and sometimes south. In fact I kept driving from one country into another without even realising it! Driving through areas which would previously have been seriously troubled, sadly I believe that today, in a sense, they still are; suspicion of strangers is still very much the order of the day in some places…

I remember a large family my parents used to visit when I was a child. This family lived on a farm close to the border and I can still see in my mind’s eye the old kitchen, with a table by a window where the sun shone in on the mother of the house who stood making bread. I have been told that the farmhouse now lies uninhabited. It is not unusual to find abandoned houses in rural areas of Ireland with all the bedding, old furniture and crockery still sitting there!

It is fascinating to realise that the Irish border is not easily defined. Some people’s land or farms straddle the border, while there are those who claim that some rooms of their houses are in the Republic of Ireland while others are in Northern Ireland. I sincerely hope that they’ll never require a passport to walk from their living room into their kitchen! It is many years ago now since we visited that family but as I reminisce on youthful days, I realise that spiritually speaking the need of mankind remains the same and the people of Ireland, whatever their political views, need to come to personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, if they have not already done so.

Still nestling amongst the peaceful emerald drumlins of County Monaghan (which is south of the Irish border) are some non-denominational little mission halls and Lurganearly is one of these. Lurganearly is a small townland, lying just 10km (around 6.5 miles) south east of Castleblayney. There is good car parking space across from the little hall, which is ran by a Mr J. Smyth who lives halfway between Castleblayney and the hall. Every Sunday at 12noon a Sunday morning worship service is held here and I know that anyone desiring to go would be made most welcome.

Every Wednesday night there is a prayer meeting at 8pm and a Sunday evening service is held on the first Sunday of each month at 8pm. The visiting speaker at this first Sunday evening meeting normally also speaks at the morning service. Unlike many mission halls, this one continues to operate during the summer months, except on rare occasions for a very good reason. There are sometimes other special mid-week meetings arranged, with visiting speakers and organisations invited to the hall.

This year (2019) it will be 63 years ago since Stanley Conn (see previous blog https://readywriterpublications.wordpress.com/2019/03/16/the-testimony-of-stanley-conn-1928-2007/ ) put his trust in the risen Saviour in this very place and I thank the Lord for the existence still, of such places of worship where there are no denominational barriers. In the sparsely populated rural areas of Ireland and indeed in the towns and cities, I pray that souls will still repent and listen humbly to that “still small voice” which continues to whisper in this the Day of Grace… not only in places of worship but in city streets, villages, country lanes, mountains and valleys.

Political regimes and leaders may come and go, terrifying events will surely happen and this old world is changing fast “but the Word of the Lord endureth for ever” (1Peter 1v25) and “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13v8)

Praise God for the text on Lurganearly’s wall which may even speak to weary travellers on that narrow country road… “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” (Acts 16v31)

 

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The Mission Halls of Ireland

August 12, 2014

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On a recent visit to the Mourne Mountains in County Down, Northern Ireland, I discovered a little mission hall on a quiet country road, not far from the Silent Valley Reservoir. Somehow this brought back to mind thoughts that I previously had about discovering the mission halls of Ireland.

From time to time I hope to research and accumulate information about mission halls throughout Ireland, inserting this into a new category in my blog. I hope to discover how often they are used and include details of the times of meetings, as well as historical information on how each mission hall had its beginning and, if possible, the contact details of those who are currently responsible for the meetings.

In the past many of these small non-denominational places of worship have been a wonderful blessing to local Christians and, at the same time, an essential local lifeline to the unsaved. Mission halls fulfilled a great need in the communities in which they started up; it cannot be denied that many of those who occupied the pulpits of mainstream churches had not been faithful in their proclamation of the gospel, often because they too were unsaved! Unfortunately, although nothing has changed in this regard, the mission halls are used much less frequently in these days.

Above all the mission hall has a tradition of transcending denominationalism and bringing souls together in a spirit of love and unity. They were once a ‘reservoir’ in the spiritual sense; many having had their roots in the 1859 Revival.

Sadly the mission hall would appear to be a dying phenomenon, even though the faithful witness which once emanated from within their humble walls is as essential today as it was in bygone days. My personal memories of mission halls are very positive ones; it was within mission halls rather than churches that I would have felt convicted, challenged and experienced that great sense of the Lord’s Presence. And it was within mission halls that I would have heard many stirring and challenging testimonies.

Mission halls exist mostly in Northern Ireland but there are some, too, in the border counties as well as in the midlands of Ireland. If anyone reading this has information about a Mission Hall they know well, I would be delighted to hear from them!

 

Memories of “Sleepy Valley Mission Hall” – & Reflections on my Unchanging Saviour

April 9, 2011

After Mr. Ralph Loney, a dear friend of my parents recently passed away, I recalled a little article for a local newspaper, the Ulster Gazette, which I had written around 8 years ago about Sleepy Valley Mission Hall, with which he was associated…

Sleepy Valley“, as it was aptly named in bygone days, can be accessed from the main Armagh/Portadown Road or from the village of Richhill. These days, that once verdant valley, is a favourite location for new housing developments. My early memories of “Sleepy Valley” were not so much of its peaceful green fields, or of the later ‘concrete spread’, the extension of an ever-growing village – but of a little portable hall in the corner of a vast field. As a child I attended Sunday afternoon meetings there, and later, as an adult, Sunday evening meetings and that special “Day of Prayer”, held annually around Christmas and the New Year.

The little hall was not affiliated to any church, which in these days of denominationalism, is a refreshing concept. Mr. Samuel Hewitt, who once lived in Richhill castle, was responsible for the erection of the hall in the field belonging to Mr. Ralph Loney – who was to lead the Sunday evening meetings there for many years, and whose wife Maureen played the organ.  Indeed, the hall had been originally erected for the purpose of one mission. However, it stood throughout the decades in a troubled province, and who knows what encouraging influence, or how many lives were changed for eternity by the words spoken; the ministry in song, and the sincere prayer which arose within its humble walls?

Until just last year it had been in use for a Tuesday evening Bible Study and Prayer Meeting for a handful of stalwarts, including the Woodhouse family, Mr. Jack Hutchinson and Mr. Harold Irwin.  I had the privilege of being present at one of the last few meetings. Then, on Tuesday, 11th March 2003, the prayer meeting was held in Sleepy Valley for what was to be the very last time. The following week the hall could not be accessed, for that vast green field was to be the site for another new housing development.

On a recent visit to my native environs, I noticed that the little hall had gone, and the houses had been built. Consequently, I felt that I should write about Sleepy Valley Hall at this time, paying tribute to what it stood for, and never forgetting all those who ever crossed its threshold over the years – many of whom have “gone home”. In a changing world, shattered by terrorism and cankered by materialism, prayer is as vital as ever, and I have no doubt that it continues in the hearts of the afore-mentioned, as they join with others in that wonderful little cottage, belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Harold Irwin.

Nowadays, in another time, another place, my memories often return to the pictures which lined either side of Sleepy Valley hall, and which made a strong and lasting impression on my young life. I recall one of Jesus knocking on a door … It is surely fitting that I should close with His precious words: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev. 3v20,21).

Just today, as I thought on Sleepy Valley and all the familiar faces of those who sat in it over the years, my thoughts also dwelt on the words of Hebrews 13v8… “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Old familiar faces have left this scene of time; places of sincere worship and prayer are on the decrease… but my Saviour never changes! In this the Day of Grace, He still stands knocking on the doors of the hearts of mankind.

My prayer is that all who read would open the doors of their hearts to this loving Saviour, who is an unchanging Rock and Fortress throughout the changing scenes of time and who says to them: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:” (Matthew 7v13) May those who know Him declare with the hymnist Henry Francis Lyte …

 “Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day:

Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away,

Change and decay in all around I see:

O thou who changest not, abide with me!”

Link to the hymn “Abide with me:” http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/a/b/abidewme.htm