STRANRAER BAPTIST CHURCH
From Small Beginnings . . . .
Saturday 29th October 1994 saw the start of a new phase in the life of the church, with the official opening of the new building. Around 300 people were there to witness the event, the tape was ably cut by Mrs Bruce, one of the first founder members, and watched by Pastor Winston Jordan the present Pastor, along with his wife Anne. The Guest speaker was Pastor John Shearer, and in the week following, a series of special meetings was conducted by Pastor J.F. Bradley.
Baptist activity in the area was originally established in 1980 by Pastor Iain Cameron, and a church was constituted in January 1985, with 13 members, and affiliated to the Baptist Union of Scotland. The Services were held, first of all in the former Coronation Day Centre, and then while the Centre was being refurbished and renovated, in the Red Cross Hall. Midweek meetings were held in the Reformed Presbyterian Church Hall.
As the church membership increased in size, members had the vision of purchasing their own building. In April 1993, the membership agreed to buy from the Ministry of Defence, what had been the Territorial Army Hall in Bellevilla Road. During the preceding years, those attending the church had contributed regularly to a building fund, and this Fund, along with a grant and loan from the Baptist Union, and various donations and gifts from many other churches in Scotland and further afield, was sufficient to meet the purchase price and pay for the conversion of the building into a Church Sanctuary, Church Hall and Sunday School classrooms, with an adjoining 4-bedroom flat for the Pastor and his family.
The flat was ready for use by November 1993, and work continued on the church- all by volunteers, with people from other parts of Scotland and Ireland working alongside local members of the community.
What is interesting, is that the building had at one time originally been a church. Town records show that in 1797, a branch of the United Presbyterian Church was founded in Bellevilla Road, this congregation moving to premises in Bridge Street in 1850.
So once again, the building has been restored to its original intended use – the worship of God. Stranraer Baptist Church, in November 1994, has a membership of 49 members, and already quite a few new faces are to be seen at Services, indicating that the membership is likely to grow further.
None of this would have been possible without the leading and direction of God, through His Holy Spirit – all decisions made after much prayer.
A special song was written for the Opening on 29/10/94 and sung by the Coagh Mens Choir, the words are a lasting testimony of the foundation of the church, and the hopes and prayers for the future.