Loughaghery Presbyterian Church
In the early 1800’s the names of Alex Sutherland and his wife appear from time to time as sexton.There is no indication of what he was paid except after Communion he was given 7s. 7d. and his wife 2s. 8.5d for washing tablecloths and cleaning utensils, as an extra. The Sexton’s house (now store) was built for him around 1830. The minutes record that it was decided to build a house for the Sexton in the lowest N.E. Part of the Churchyard beside Mateer’s (now Balfour Steven’s well). That well is still there.
In 1849 John Rainey was appointed. He was engaged “to keep all the premises clean and in order, to have the use of the garden and the grass of the graveyard and green, with one guinea a year and five shillings for each new burying ground and the same for the washing of the Communion table-cloths,” remember they covered the tables in the aisles.
He was succeeded by his son James, who was there, well into this century – an old man. His picture is on the front cover of 1916.
After his death David Purdy was appointed in 1922-1932 at £6 yearly. He was followed by Sam Jess in 1932 also at £6. Then Sam Patterson. after his retirement Sam Jess took up duties again for a number of years. John Jess was sexton for an interim period from 1938 until mid-1940’s.
Prior to 1960 when electricity was installed coke was used for heating. Records refer to a heating system being installed in 1911 at the cost of £69.15.0. This coke had to be wheeled from the house to the furnace room, which was where the Minister’s room is now, and lit very early on Sunday mornings. In the winter, too, seventeen oil lamps had to be filled and lit for evening services. Hard work it was. Heating the Church commenced on Communion Sunday in October until Communion Sunday in May. No heat at all during the summer despite the weather. What a blessing electricity is.
The work of the Sexton is now done by the men of the committee, opening and locking up and cutting the grass, while the women clean the Church weekly.