beginnings stretch back to the coming of Scottish settlers to Ulster
in the early 17th century. Most of these settlers were Presbyterians
who were naturally sympathetic towards their co-religionists in
Scotland, who drew up a National Covenant in 1638 in protest against
the autocratic policies of Charles I and who, in 1643, entered into
the Solemn League and Covenant with the English Parliament. One aim
of this covenant was `to work for the reformation of religion in the
three kingdoms' and it was warmly approved and signed by many of the
Revolution Settlement of 1690 was welcomed by most Ulster
Presbyterians as a vindication of their struggle for religious
freedom. A minority, however, objected to the disregarding of the
Covenants and the absence of any specific recognition of the kingship
of Jesus Christ. These `Covenanters', ancestors of modern Reformed
Presbyterians, stood apart from the Presbyterian Church and began to
hold separate meetings for fellowship, called societies. These
society people were dependent on visits from Scottish ministers from
1696 until 1757. In 1763 a `Reformed Presbytery' was formed and rapid
growth led to the formation of a Synod in 1811.
history of Faughan is closely linked to that of Bready. The
Glendermott valley was a strong centre of Scottish influence and
visiting ministers from Scotland conducted services there from time
to time. The earliest record of preaching by a Covenanting minister
is that of Rev. John Thorburn at Cumber in 1759 and of Rev. John
Fairley at Tirkeevney in 1761. Healthy and active Covenanting
Societies kept the witness alive and by 1770 a congregation was
established at Faughanbridge.
minister, Thomas Hamilton, was ordained in 1770. A native of
Bovevagh, Co. Londonderry, he was a licentiate of the Derry
Presbytery of the Presbyterian Synod of Ulster. After the death of
Rev. William Hair, minister of First Glendermott Presbyterian Church,
in 1766, the congregation was supplied by Mr. Hamilton. A minority of
the congregation wanted to call him but a majority favoured another
licentiate. When Presbytery ruled in favour of the majority, the
minority seized the meeting house for a short period and refused to
accept the ruling of Presbytery. Mr. Hamilton was deprived of his
licence and applied to the Irish Reformed Presbytery and was
accepted. The minority left the congregation and the Synod of Ulster
and joined with the local Covenanting societies to form a new
congregation. They called Mr. Hamilton and he accepted and was
ordained. After a short pastorate of about three years, he resigned
because of the sudden drop in Covenanting ministers from 6 to 3 and
spent the next six years of his short life as an itinerant preacher
for the Reformed Presbytery until his untimely death in 1779. He was
buried at Derryvalley in Co. Monaghan.
Alexander was ordained as minister of Bready in 1783. His charge
included Faughan. He was a local man, from Tirkeeveney, who had been
educated at Glasgow University and was licensed by the Scottish
Presbytery in 1781. It is likely that the Faughan Covenanters
worshipped with the Bready congregation on Sabbaths. These were
difficult days for Dissenters in general, and for Covenanters in
particular. Oppression and poverty had driven many to seek a new
life in the United States of America. For those who remained, it was
well nigh impossible to get a site for a meeting house. Faughan was
singularly blessed in this respect and secured in 1790 what many
considered as one of the most beautiful sites in Ireland - beside the
old bridge at Drumahoe on the banks of the Faughan River, some three
miles from the centre of Londondeny. Originally, this was a rural
setting, but by the 21ST century the Faughan meeting house lies at
the heart of a major residential area as the nearby city expands and
engulfs the village of Drumahoe. Mr. Alexander was much loved as a
meek, generous man and was known as 'the Godly Alexander'. Always of
delicate health, he died in 1793, aged 45.
Young, after a short ministry to Covenanters in County Donegal, came
to reside in the Waterside district of Londonderry. Mr. Young was
never installed, but acted as stated supply from 1787 until his death
in 1794. His name is perpetuated in a local charity, the Gwyn and
Young Endowment, founded by one of his sons. It appears that Faughan
was still united with Bready during this period.
minister was John Alexander, nephew of Rev. Samuel Alexander and
brother of Rev. Josias Alexander. He too was educated in Scotland,
and licensed in 1803. He was ordained and installed in Faughan on 19
May 1803, the first minister to be ordained in the meeting house. He
also ministered at Bready until 1809. During his ministry a
congregation was organised in Londonderry and a meeting house built
in Fountain Street in 1810. Mr. Alexander looked after both
congregations. Faughan was strengthened by the addition of members of
the Desertone society between 1811 and 1822. However, from 1821, due
to the fall in food prices at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the
congregations in Londonderry and Faughan were unable to keep up the
minister's stipend. Despite attempts to reach a settlement, Mr.
Alexander accepted a call to Linenhall Street in Belfast in 1825.
Mr. Alexander's departure, the Faughan and Londonderry congregations
requested that they be separated and this was granted by Presbytery
on 13 July 1826.
In May 1827
James Peebles Sweeney was ordained and served the congregation with
distinction and devotion for forty-seven years. Born at Desertone in
1795, brought up in the congregation, he received his education in
Scotland and was licensed by the Western Presbytery on 7 July 1824.
His long ministry saw vast changes in Ulster. Although the 11
societies that made up the congregation were affected by the
disastrous Great Famine in the late 1840s, yet many were greatly
blessed and increased through the revival of 1859. By the late 1860s,
although the number of societies had fallen to nine, the membership
of the congregation reached a peak of 270 (including 96 children). In
1874, Mr. Sweeney retired due to ill health. At the time of Mr.
Sweeney's death on 4 May 1877, a new generation had arisen to carry
on the work.
Neill, born in 1850, brought up in the Dervock congregation and
educated Queen's College Belfast and the R.P. Hall, was a licentiate
of the Northern Presbytery He was ordained on 17 February 1876. Due
to emigration from the area, the congregation began to decline and
had difficulty in meeting its obligations to Mr. Neill. As well, he
began to have objections to certain principles of the Reformed
Presbyterian Church. He resigned on 3 November 1880. He later served
in the Irish Presbyterian Church.
his successor, Samuel Ferguson, had a long and fruitful ministry in
the congregation. Son of Rev. W. S. Ferguson of Grange, and
great-grandson of the famous Rev. William Stavely, Mr. Ferguson was
ordained on 15 December 1881. Born in 1854, brought up in the manse
at Grange, he was educated at Queen's College Belfast and the R.P.
Hall, and licensed in May 1881. A gifted preacher, a devoted pastor
and a fine historian, his long ministry left its mark upon the people
and older members recalled his work with affectionate gratitude for
many years afterwards. During his ministry, despite continued
emigration, the numbers of the congregation remained steady at about
55 families and 150 communicants. Mr. Ferguson died on 16 December 1928.
McIlmoyle, then minister of Kellswater, was called to the
congregation. He was to serve the Church in each of the four
Presbyteries and as Professor of Systematic Theology for 25 years. He
was installed on 31 October 1929. He was the first minister not to
come to Faughan as his first charge. A gracious, godly and
intellectual gentleman, his ministry was remembered with affection
for a long time after his acceptance of a call from Dublin Road in
Donnelly, a member of Grosvenor Road congregation and a licentiate of
the Eastern Presbytery, began his ministry on 1 December 1949 and
showed his fine talents, enthusiasm, kindness and good humour in a
pastorate of seven years before moving to Ballyclabber in May 1956.
congregation was well served and wisely led by Rev. William Norman
McCune. Brought up in Trinity Street congregation and licensed by the
Eastern Presbytery, Mr. McCune spent eight years in Convoy and
Stranorlar before coming to Faughan on 13 December 1956. As well as
attending diligently to the spiritual oversight of the Faughan
congregation, Mr. McCune played a much wider role in the Western
Presbytery, as Clerk and as Interim Moderator of every congregation
within its bounds at one time or another, and as the organiser or
conductor of several psalmody events. He retired from the active
duties of the ministry on 5 February 1992.
September 1994, David Joseph McCullough, brought up in the Newry
congregation and a licentiate of the Southern Presbytery, was
ordained and installed as minister of the congregation. He quickly
established himself in the congregation as a gifted preacher and
attentive pastor with a tremendous enthusiasm for evangelistic work.
The congregation was saddened in May 2003 when Mr. McCullough
accepted the call to be organising pastor of the Dromore Society of Covenanters.
2008, the congregation made a call to Steven Robinson, member of the
Trinity congregation and a licentiate of the Eastern Presbytery and
this was presented on 5 August 2008. The call was accepted and Mr.
Robinson was ordained and installed on 18 October 2008.
four students for the Gospel ministry between 1800 and 1816: James
Steen, James Sweeney, William Sweeney and Jacob Alexander.
Almost a century and a half passed before the next four students were
in training. Between 1959 and 1973, Joseph Robinson Patterson, Harry
Tadley, John Hawthorne and R. Blair McFarland entered the ministry
and so, in these two short periods of time, Faughan has made a
significant contribution to the wider Church.
The roll of
ruling elders is a long and distinguished one. The following men were
ordained in the late eighteenth century: James Marshall, Thomas
Allen, Simon Robinson, John Mitchell, Thomas Marshall, John Guy,
Andrew Henry, John McNaught. During the ministry of John Alexander (1803-1825)
the congregation was well served by the following elders: Joseph
Clarke, James Glenn, James Hunter, Samuel Long, Samuel Marshall,
Robert Marshall, James Orr and James Steele. They were joined in Mr.
Sweeney's time (1827-1876) by Samuel Alexander, James Mitchell,
Robert Boyce, George Kennedy. James Adams, James Hunter, William
Long, William Steele, James Glenn, William Philips, George Sweeney,
Moses Tate, Joseph Clarke (Jn.), John Donaghy, Andrew Buchanan, John
Allen, Joseph Orr, James Glenn, Daniel McFarland, John Longwell,
William Phillips, William Steele. Mr. Ferguson was supported by a
succession of worthy elders, some of whom have descendants in the
congregation today. They were James MacDonald, William Rankin, John
Marshall, Joseph McEldowney, William John Mooney, David, Robert and
James Longwell, Alan Phillips, John Orr, Robert McFarland, Jack
Longwell and John Patterson. During Mr. McIlmoyle's ministry Hugh
Adair Steele and W.S. Ferguson joined the Session. It was further
strengthened in 1950 by John Longwell, Andrew Young, Harry Tadley,
Robert W. McFarland and Samuel McClay. During Mr. McCune's ministry
David Porter, Jack Buchanan, John J. Mitchell and J. Don McFarland
were elected to serve the congregation. Other elders appointed since
have been Samuel Buchanan, Robert T. Steele, James Snodgrass, Graham
Fallows and Fergus Marshall.
house, built in 1790, was first renovated in the early 1830s, with a
new roof, ceiling and side wall. In 1855 the session room was built,
the church re-seated and the floor altered. Major renovations took
place during 1898-1899. Central heating was installed, new rafters,
ceiling and windows were put in place and inside and outside walls
re-plastered. Electric lighting and heating was installed in 1951 and 1953.
In 1959 the
old stables were converted into a Church Hall, which was extended in
1975. This Hall was demolished and a new one built in 1984 which in
turn was considerably enlarged and refurbished in 2005.
congregation first acquired a manse in 1883 - 4 Ebrington Terrace, in
the Waterside, Londonderry. In 1898 Mr. Ferguson bought his own home
at 'Sunnymede' on the Limavady Road. In 1930, during the
ministry of Professor Mcllmoyle, the manse was in Victoria Park.
Another manse was obtained in Hinton Park during the ministry of Mr.
Donnelly. This was sold to finance the present manse near the church
at 30 Drumahoe Road of which Mr. McCullough and his family were the
improvements, the congregation is well equipped to continue its
witness in a lovely setting beside the River Faughan and to serve a
rapidly expanding community in the immediate neighbourhood. In 2009
the congregation was composed of 42 families. It is missionary minded
and actively involved in reaching out to the local community. This
takes various forms: a Parents and Toddler group, a Friday Night Club
and Go teams. A 'Christianity Explained' course has proved to be very
beneficial. As well, a Ladies Fellowship Meeting and a C.Y. comprised
of Arrows, Junior, Intermediate and Senior Groups, exists for members
of the congregation.
congregation is comprised of 47 families. At morning worship there
are approximately 90 people present, with an average of 45 in the
evening. Over the past few years we are thankful to the Lord for the
numerical growth we have experienced. And so we look to Jesus Christ
the King of the Church to continue to build His church amongst us.
forefathers we have one desire - that King Jesus will be given His
rightful place in church and nation. As long as the Lord tarries we
will seek to fly the banner of our church declaring Christ's Crown