SUNDAY 25th MARCH 1979


"It must, indeed, be a source of gratification to the eloquent and zealous pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church to find that, after the labours of upwards of a quarter-of-a-century, both 'in season and out of season', among the flock that values his ministerial devotion, he can cast his eyes around the handsome temple which has just been completed for further extending his usefulness, and to meet the wants of an increasing congregation. . ."
   That quotation from 'the Sentinel of Thursday, March 20, 1879, referred to the opening in Londonderry the following Sunday of the new Carlisle Road Presbyterian Church, which was described as "one of the most substantial commodious and elegant Presbyterian Churches in the North of Ireland."
   "The cost of the building will fully reach £6,000, a sum considerably above the original contract," continued the report. "To defray this large outlay the congregation have liberally subscribed and contributions have not been confined to the members..." The minister to whom the report referred, was Rev. Robert Ross, DD, who had been installed in March 1850, and remained in charge of the congregation until July, 1894.
   Dr. Ross was, in fact, the third minister of the congregation, which was established in June 1838, and, at first, met in the city's former Theatre located in Fountain Street. it vanished recently in the re-development of the Fountain Street area.

   The first minister, Rev. John McFarland, who took up duties in June, 1838, remained for four years and was succeeded by Rev. Marcus Dill Reid, Licentiate of Limavady Presbytery who was installed in May, 1843, and remained until his death on August 2, 1849. Under the ministry of his successor, Mr. Ross, the Congregation increased to such an extent that the present Carlisle Road Presbyterian Church was built, and, on Sunday, special commemorative services will be held to mark the centenary of its opening.
   The special preacher at the morning service will be the Moderator of the General Assembly, Right Rev. Dr. David Burke, who was formerly minister of Great James Street Church, in Londonderry, and at the evening service a former minister of the Carlisle Road congregation, Rev. John Girvan, will be the special speaker.
   As part of the centenary celebrations an exhibition depicting the development of the congregation during its century in its present building, will be presented in the Lecture Hall, on Wednesday, March 28, at 7.30 p. m.

   While minister of the congregation, Dr, Ross was elected Moderator of the General Assembly in 1886, and, when he died in 1894, he had completed 44 years in the ministry.
   The other ministers of the congregation were: Rev. John Huey, 1895-1919; Rev. David Hay, 1919-1927; Rev. Samuel McVicker, 1925-1956; Rev. John Girvan 1956-1964; and the present minister, Rev. Richard Graham, who was installed in February 1965.
   And, just as many of the congregation's ministers made outstanding contributions to the Presbyterian Church, so, too, were valuable contributions made to the community by many of its members, such as Sir John Ross, the last Lord Chancellor of Ireland, who was a son of Carlisle Road Church manse; Alderman Sir William McLearn, who was three times Mayor of Londonderry; and Alderman James Hamilton, who was also a former Mayor of the city, and, for 18 years was Grand Chief Templar of Ireland.