Loughaghery Presbyterian Church
There is no record of the Elders prior to 1800, but in 1800 the Elders in office were – Samuel Swords, Ballymurphy; Clerk of Session. Michael Magowan, Cargygray; William White, Cabra; William McKee, Cargygray; Thomas Deyarmon, Cargygray; Joseph Stewart, Burren; John Rogers.
Elected in 1816 – Samuel Archer, Drumlough; John McAuley, Ballycrune; John Patterson, Ballycrune; Samuel Mack; Thomas Blain, Burren.
Elected in 1829 John McBride, Ballykeel-Lougherne; William Kearns, Magheraconluce.
Elected in 1834 – Oliver Edgar, Cargygray; John Blain, Burren; Thomas Garrett, Clintagh.
Elected in 1843 – James Chambers, David Shaw, Boardmills,
Elected in 1849 – William Dornan, Ballykeel-Lougherne, James Stewart, Burren; Thomas Jamison, Clintagh; George White, B_ allyhomra; James Martin, Cabra.
Elected in 1872 – David Wallace Shaw, Ballylintg; John Patterson, Ballycrune; Robert Trimble, Magheraconluce; Joseph Kee, Clintagh; Robert Mack, Mullaghdrin.
Elected in 1907 – William J. Magill, Mullaghdrin; James McClelland, Cabra; Samuel A. Bell, Ballylinta; Robert McDonald, Magheraconluce; Andrew Clements, Ballycrune.
Elected in 1926 – Samuel Gourley, Magheraconluce; William Irvine, Cargygray; Robert Bateson, Mullaghdrin; John Scott, Clintagh.
Elected in 1946 – Samuel A. Bell, Ballylinta, Jim Eddie, Ballycrune; John McDonald, Magheraconluce; Robert Middleston, Cargygray.
Elected in 1966 – Richard Irvine, Cargygray; Thomas Gourley, Ballycrune, Bertie Graham, Ballycrune, Thomas Mitchell, Magheraconluce.
Elected in 1975 – Mary Reid, Magheraconluce; Fred Scott, Ballymurphy; Oliver Greer, Aughnaleck; Jim McKibben, Ballycrune.
In the early 1800’s a district of the congregation was committed to each Elder over which he was expected to take special oversight, and be able to report. He was expected to visit the sick, to admonish and reprove disorder, to recognise scandals, to superintend prayer meetings, and to accompany the minister in the annual visitation. The Session seemed to meet nearly every Sabbath morning in the Session house, or Retiring house as it was called in those far-off days, especially before Communion and Baptism. The Elders seemed to do what was expected of them in ferreting out scandal or trouble, so that no unworthy person would be admitted to Communion or have a child baptised.
Examples of such cases:
30.7.1847 “appeared Mary – acknowledging sin of stealing turf from John -.
She was dealt with by Session and further rebuked from the pulpit before the congregation. Showing contrition she was admitted to Communion.”
In 1806 the minutes read –
“Hugh – acknowledging evil of permitting a free-mason dance in his barn, was severely rebuked by Session and publicly rebuked from the pulpit, but showing repentance was admitted to Communion.
Another quotation from minutes – “Rebecca – acknowledging sin and scandal of fornication with a man called -. She was dealt with by the session, confessing her sin and showing evidence of repentance, was rebuked and asked to appear again a week later.” (Poor girl!).
“Again appeared as asked, was publicly rebuked and expressed desire to be restored to the Fellowship from which she had fallen. She was further dealt with and restored to the Fellowship.” She was permitted to come to Communion.
1827 “Appeared before session Mary G- professing fornication with Thomas K -. She having a child so begotten, six weeks old”. Mary was severely dealt with by Session and publicly chastened from the pulpit, but after showing repentance she was admitted to communion.
Another sin described in Minutes is irregular, clandestine or underhand marriages. It would seem that these pairs didn’t get a proper licence and hadn’t their marriages proclaimed. I think they had what we in modem terms would call a Civil marriage. When these people applied to take communion there was trouble. They had to produce witnesses who had seen them married.
11th August 1803. “Richard N- of Cargygray and Jane G- his wife acknowledging clandestine marriage by Blakely of Ballynahinch, under whose hand no certificate was produced Rachel McN- was the sole witness, who made oath in Session that she was present when said Richard and Jane did vow to be husband and wife to each other until death.” This was accepted.
1807 William – and his wife Mary, acknowledging clandestine marriage by Blakely, Ballynahinch and their sin and sorrow for not hitherto being members of any Church. No certificate being produced, they were publicly rebuked before congregation having wounded’ religion.”
“John M- acknowledging sin of using objectionable language to Mrs. W- coming from Ballynahinch fair. He was severely rebuked, but showing sorrow was permitted to come to Communion. These are not isolated cases. There are many, many such cases lasting right through the 1800’s and into this century – a period of nearly one hundred and fifty years. Almost weekly the Session had someone on the “penitent’s stool’ for something or other.
One can imagine how these people must have felt in having to face the Session and later the Congregation, with all eyes on them, but they were so desirous of receiving Communion that they went through with this humiliation before the entire congregation, and the same applies when it came to having their children baptized.