Redrock "Living for Jesus, speaking for Jesus"
Redrock       "Living for Jesus, speaking for Jesus"

Our History

As with a number of other Presbyterian churches in the area, Redrock Presbyterian was formed by a breakaway element from nearby Markethill Presbyterian.

"Two hundred years ago there came
In Ulster's storied land
To Redrock's old historic hill
A bold Seceding band.

They planted on their Meeting House
A Banner of the Blue
And worshipped there in simple form
As Presbyterians do."

The split with the Markethill congregation in 1799 may have occurred as a result of disputes within the church as to the morality of the minister, or it may simply have been a desire to attend a church more convenient to their homes.

Building permission was quickly obtained from local landlords, the Earl of Charlemont and Lord Gosford allowing work on the church to commence almost immediately. Simultaneously a call was issued for preaching and Mr.Harvey was ordained in 1799. Times were hard as starvation, fever and political strife caused many to seek a better life elsewhere. The congregation of the foundling church was no doubt depleted by these waves of illness and emigration.

Mr. Harvey retired in 1836 and the position remained vacant until the ordination of Mr. William John Brown in 1858. He travelled in America acquiring funds to purchase a manse and rebuild the church. While at home he preached widely during the '59 Revival and as with other Presbyterian churches the communion roll swelled during this campaign, in this case by 16%. Brown died in 1898 and was described by the General Presbytery as, "A man of remarkable sympathy and tenderness. His whole life spoke of fidelity and efficiency. He excelled above all else in the sick call. The church lost a faithful and laborious pastor".

Mr. Joseph McKee filled the vacancy at the church after only five months. A man with a strong evangelical desire he held numerous missions. This may account for his resignation seven years later to take up a charge at Moy, Co.Tyrone. He was not to know then but he would return to Redrock for a second period of service twenty-one years later.

His successor was the Rev.Thomas Roulston, who was installed in 1906 following a two year ministry in New Zealand. It fell to him to guide the congregation through the hardships of World War One and the partition of Ireland. Financial difficulties resulting from these hardships aroused fears that the congregation would lose its minister if the stipend was not increased. Union with another congregation was proposed but forestalled by fervent door to door collecting by the congregation. Roulston left the church in 1923 for a charge at Ballybeck. The resulting vacancy brought about a union with Druminnis in 1924.

The Rev. Thomas Bole was ordained to the joint charge in 1924 and for the first time the church displayed a healthy credit balance. Rev.Bole stayed for only two years before accepting a call to Claremont, Co.Londonderry.

In 1926, Rev. McKee began his second term in charge of Redrock Presbyterian. Under his care the heating system was overhauled and new stalls placed in the church to provide for an expanding congregation. Rev. McKee unexpectedly resigned in 1941 and retired the following year. Following his death in 1965 he was described as having had two main concerns in life, "A burning desire to win men for Christ and concern for the fabric of the church so that the building and its surrounds should honour the master".

Mr. Andrew McComb was installed in 1942. During his ministry, the Church raised money to construct a war memorial, unveiled in 1951. He left the church three years later for the care of Dunlop Memorial Hall in Belfast and is fondly remembered for having given the church, "new impetus and relevance as he led the people through the great changes brought about by a world war and the ensuing years of peace".

His replacement was the Rev. John Hall Lyons, admitted in 1955. His ministry lasted until his retirement in 1982, during which time he established junior and senior badminton clubs and a bowling club, providing new ways in which the congregation could develop. He also presided over the construction of a new Manse in 1971.

The Rev. Smyth had been engaged in the field of scientific research before receiving his call into the ministry and taking up the charge of Redrock Presbyterian. As with the previous minister Rev.Smyth had a devotion to the youth and under his direction companies of Girls Brigade and Boys Brigade were established. The Rev. Smyth also had the honour to bring to fruition an idea initially presented in 1859. At that time it had been suggested a gallery be installed to provide extra room for the congregation. The gallery was finally installed in the 1980's during the Rev. Smyth's ministry.

The Rev. Howard Gilpin was installed in 1989. In 1999, the church celebrated its 200th anniversary. A time capsule was sealed and will be opened when the church reaches its 300th anniversary. The current minister is the Rev. Sam Finlay, who was installed in 2002.

Redrock Presbyterian Church
67 Redrock Road,


Co Armagh

BT60 2BL


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