Origins Of The Church
For many years the congregation was called “Lisburn” as stated in the records of the Seceders. It was the first place in Ireland to write to Scotland for help, and the early history has been carefully traced in Stewart’s The Seceders in Ireland.
In 1750 a call was offered to Mr John Tennant bearing nearly 120 signatures, but he preferred and accepted another offer. Moira and Lisburn (Hillhall) joined forces and received Mr John Hume from Aberdour, Fifeshire. It so happened that a few months previously Synod had received an urgent appeal from the Rev Alexander Craighead, minister at Middle Octarara, Pennsylvania, beseeching them to appoint some ministers to labour in that State. The Synod had destined Mr Hume for this work and had appointed the Presbytery of Ireland to ordain him and send him to Pennsylvania.
Mr Hume had received the call from the congregation of Moira and Lisburn, which under the circumstances the Synod refused to allow, and ordered Mr Hume to proceed to America. Mr Hume refused to complete his trials for the move to America stating his reasons. In reply the Synod threatened to suspend his license to preach. However milder counsels prevailed and he was released from the appointment to Pennsylvania after apologising to the Presbytery.
Mr Hume was ordained to the pastorate of Moira and Lisburn on 30th January 1753. Ten years later he resigned the Lisburn (Hillhall) portion of his charge, which forthwith became a distinct congregation. While in the town the congregation did not appear to have obtained a site for a meetinghouse.
It was probably about this time that the congregation moved from Lisburn to a site given to them by Mrs Law of Hillhall, which from that time the congregation bore the name Hillhall.
History Of Hillhall Ministers
- Mr John Hume was the founding minister of Presbyterian Church. His ministry lasted 10 years.
- After a vacancy of 5 years a call was given to Mr Alexander Grier and he was ordained on 22nd March 1769. His ministry was brief as in 1773 he moved to the new congregation of Millisle.
- Another 5 years elapsed before another appointment was made, largely due to those being approached were otherwise engaged. Finally Mr John Bell, a Scotsman was ordained on 23rd May 1778 and the ministry lasted 14 years when Mr Bell died in 1792.
- Mr Bell’s successor was Mr Henry Hunter 23rd March1795 to July 1825.
- The next minister was Mr Samuel Dunlop who died at Derriaghy Cottage on 10th August 1865.
- Rev James Dawson Crawford was installed on 29th March 1866 and remained until 22nd May 1881 when he moved to another congregation.
- He was followed by Rev Robert Robson who was installed on 2nd July 1883 and who died in office on 12th October 1906.
- On the 8th May 1907 Mr Gilmour Neill was ordained and remained in the ministry until 9th May 1913.
- The Rev William McNutt was the next minister to be installed on 13th August 1913 and on 9th December 1917 he was given leave of absence for War Chaplaincy work.
- The Rev W C Cowden took charge and tribute was paid to him by the congregation on March 1919, when Mr McNutt returned to take up office again.
- On the 8th June 1925 Mr McNutt moved to Scotland. The Rev Archibald Duff was installed on 28th July 1925.
- He died on 24th June 1946. The next minister was Mr Walter Kennedy who was ordained on 20th November 1946 and when after six active years he resigned on 30th December 1952 to take up a post in Ontario Canada.
- The Rev Hugh Young was installed on 27th May 1953 and retired in 1981 when he became the Minister Emeritus. He went to live in England where he died in April 2006.
- The Rev Jack Richardson was installed in Hillhall on 4th June 1982 and retired in December 2006. He is now the Minister Emeritus.
- The current minister is The Rev Paul Jamieson formerly minister of Christ Church Presbyterian, Dundonald who was installed on Friday 29th February 2008.
- 1826 saw the renovation and rebuild of the original earthen floored thatch roofed meeting house.
- In 1868 a manse was built.
- The Church Hall was built in 1893 followed by the present meeting house in 1902.
- A Boy’s Brigade Company was formed in 1911.
- The Scout Group were founded in 1922, to cater for the needs of young people, prior to the installation of The Rev Archibald Duff (1925-1946). The guides were founded a few years later.
- In 1956 a pipe organ was installed.
- A new suite of halls was opened in May 1987 and a manse in 1995.
- The church halls were destroyed in an arson attack in November 1999. They were rebuilt and reopened in September 2002.