Mission halls feature in new book

Derrykeevan Mission Hall
Derrykeevan Mission Hall

Part of the fabric of our countryside, Mission Halls peppering our local landscape now feature in a colourful photographic history book.

From Maghery to Moira, from Clare Mission Hall, Waringstown to Derrycrew in Loughgall, this 362-page hardback book, entitled ‘History of Mission Halls throughout Northern Ireland’ portrays more than 100 mission halls.

Of these, 15 are in Co Armagh including Derrycarne Mission Hall, Derrykeevan Mission Hall, Laurelvale Mission Hall and the Christian Workers’ Union Hall, all in or close to Portadown, and Gibson’s Hill Mission Hall near Lurgan.

Also featured in the book are Clare Mission Hall, Waringstown, Bottear Mission Hall near Moira, Ardress Mission Hall, Annaghmore, Clonmakate Mission Hall in Maghery, and Derrycrew Mission Hall, near Loughgall.

The book records that many halls were established in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Interest in preaching the gospel had arisen after the 1859 spiritual revival when, it is believed, around 100,000 people in NI came to believe in Christ. Many cottage meetings were established as a result, partly because people couldn’t travel long distances to church and partly because they were looking for a more evangelical message than existed in the churches. Subsequently, as more and more people joined these cottage meetings, purpose built mission halls were constructed.

The book is a collection of photographs, including exterior and interior shots – and it is clear that each is unique, every one having different seating, teacups and freewill offering boxes. Alongside is a short history of each. Derrycrew Mission Hall, on the Ballymagerny road, was established in 1947 when local Christians felt a need for an evangelical witness. The first mission held in the hall, conducted by Frank Marshall, began in 1947 for 12 weeks. The seats came from Belfast International Airport when it was undergoing a refurbishment.

George Conn, Superintendent at the Faith Mission, writes in the foreword that his grandparents gave ground for the site of Derrycarne Mission Hall in 1949. This hall was replaced last year with a new building, and this is the most recent mission hall built in NI.

It costs £25, is available at Christian bookshops, online at www.ambassadormedia.co.uk or amazon.co.uk, or from Judith Cole on 07884281235.