Loughaghery Presbyterian Church
Hic liber in usum cactus Presbyterorum in Congregatione Loughaghery. Isaiah 30:8 “Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book that it may be for the time to come, for ever and ever.” These are the opening words in our oldest records which date back to 1801 – minutes of meetings of Session, baptisms, marriages and Communion Rolls. Unfortunately there is no written record of the first half century of the Congregation’s existence.
These old records are wonderfully well preserved, and, although the paper is fragile, the handwriting is clear, though the style is at times hard to decipher. Spelling too, is different; where we have double S, the first one is written as F. Session is Serfsion, miss is mifs, witness is witness.
As I read these old records I thought howwonderful thatwe, nearly two hundred years on, can discover much about the customs of our church, because they had as Isaiah said ‘noted it in a book’, though the hands that noted it are long since still.
The congregation goes back to the year 1750, when a number of families, resident in the district, whose homes were remote from any Presbyterian place of worship, and who were keen for an Evangelical Gospel, as opposed to the cold ritualism, then prevailing in many places, were organised into a congregation in connection with the Burgher Seceders, who had been sent to Ulster from Scotland “to comfort the people”.
At this stage, a little bit of explanation about Burgher Seceders. Seceder Presbyterians have their roots in a protest against patronage in the interests of spiritual life and freedom in 1733 in the Church of Scotland. An independent Associate or Seceder presbytery was set up in Scotland, and within a few years a situation developed in Ireland sympathetic with the Secession principles of the new Scottish body, and applications were made to them to establish Seceding Congregations in Ireland. The Seceding ministers who had been sent over were Rev. Andrew Black to Boardmills and Rev. Thomas Main to Drumgooland and it was they who gave occasional services to this young flock at Loughaghery. The Secession Church was divided into two sections – Burghers (moderates) and anti Burghers (extremists).
It is to the Burgher Section that we belong.
It would seem that the congregation of Loughaghery owed its origin mainly to a certain Mr. James Magill of Loughaghery House, a layman, zealous for the cause of evangelical religion in those halycon days of the Secession Church. It was he, who gave the congregation its name.