OUR MINISTER - REV VICTOR NEILL
The Rev. Victor Neill was born and bred in the Ballynahinch area. His wife Barbara is Scottish. They first met at Bible college in Swansea - where they discovered they had mutual far-distant McCracken ancestors.
For the past 11 years he was minister at Bangor Congregational Church. Prior to that he worked full time with The Evangelisation Society, missioning in Great Britain and at home in Ireland.
Victor was educated at Skeogh Primary School, and is familiar with the Dromara and Kinallen areas. His last school year was at what is now Ballynahinch High School. He has fond memories of the late Sidney McCullough and late Charles Rutledge, and attended the school’s 50th Anniversary celebrations about 10 years ago.
He and Barbara lived in the flat above Miss Annie Magowan’s shop as their first married home. (Miss Magowan herself was a Congregational stalwart. Magowan’s Fashions on Ballynahinch Main Street is still there, now much enlarged). Their children, two boys and a girl, joined the Boy’s and Girl’s Brigade at Ballynahinch Congregational. Most of Victor’s relatives still live near the town.
Victor Neill is friendly, approachable, and unassuming, and he wants it that way. At his induction he told his new congregation he doesn’t want ministers to be put on a pedestal; he sees himself as the servant of his Lord and His Church. He takes the traditional view that Ministers should visit members of their flock in their homes, particularly the sick, the bereaved, and the elderly.
(Taken from an article written by Mr Horace Reid)
Some early Church History
Sunday 9th February 1902 was, for many, the last time they would worship in the Presbyterian Churches in Ballynahinch. It was a time of political tension, and many were concerned about supporting Home Rule. Those people who strongly opposed Home Rule could not accept that the three Presbyterian ministers supported it. So on Thursday 13th February 1902, a large crowd attended a meeting which was addressed by Rev. Miskimmin (Congregational Minister in Newry) and Rev. Black (Belfast). The outcome of this was that an independent church was formed which would meet for the first time on Sunday 16th February 1902, at 12 noon and 6.30 pm, in the Courthouse, which was kindly granted for the use of the new church as long as it would be required.
The history of Ballynahinch Congregational Church 1902-2002 has been written by Mrs Betty McKee.
The ministers of the Church since that year have been as follows:
G.M. Black 1902-05
J. Morris 1906-13
W.J. Todd 1914-27
T. Warwick 1928-50
R.G. Clarke 1950-56
A.G. Jackson 1957-66
T.M. Gordon 1967-71
R.W. Courtney 1973-97
J. Miskelly 1999-02
G. Speers 2004-12
V. Neill 2016-
Click on any of the images below to see a slide show of the church building history.