The Congregation of Muckamore was one of 150 Presbyterian congregations established between 1831 and 1843. The exact details of how this came about are uncertain due to a lack of original records but, following several requests to the Presbytery of Templepatrick by a number of families in the area, mostly mill workers, Rev Thomas Morrow was ordained as Minister of Muckamore Congregation on 17th November 1840 in Donegore Presbyterian Church.
On 3rd September the following year, the foundation stone was laid for a new meeting house to be built on the Dunadry Road – the same site on which the Congregation meets today. The site was given as a free gift to the congregation by Mr Archibald Ferguson and the building was duly completed, opening for worship on Sunday 8th January 1843. Since the founding members of the Congregation were Muckamore people and had met for worship in the local area, the name of Muckamore Presbyterian was maintained even though its long-term home was to be on the Dunadry Road. And so for some 167 years the Congregation has grown from those early beginnings to around 250 families in 2010.
Much work has been done over the years to the church building and hall accommodation was added at various stages along the way. However, after a lengthy period of research and planning, the Kirk Session and Congregational Committee placed a proposal before a meeting of the Congregation held on Monday 7th June 2004 to replace the original meeting house with a new one which was opened and dedicated on Saturday 14th October 2006. The overall site has been enlarged through the purchase of the Lawther School and the gift of land at the rear by Mr and Mrs James Gilliland.
The Lawther School has always had very close connections with our Congregation. According to our records, a special meeting of the Congregational Committee took place on 19th March 1906 “to consider the question of school accommodation for the district”. The Minister at that time, Rev David Stewart, explained that the Board of National Education had expressed the desirability of erecting a good new school about Dunadry. This new school would accommodate “children connected with the Church as well as those attending Islandbawn and the little school at Dunadry”. Rev Stewart pursued the issue and in 1910 Mr and Mrs James Lawther of Clady House consented to give a half-acre site as a “free gift” to the Congregation for the building of a new school. It was opened in January 1913 and was managed by successive Ministers and Congregational Committees for 42 years until it became a State School in 1954, closing in 1996 due to low pupil numbers. After a long period of negotiation with the Department of Education and with the help of our local MP, the Congregation was offered the property at a cost of £100,000. The purchase was completed in August 2003.
Faced with a need for extra hall space the obvious solution for the Congregation was to refurbish the school. We were blessed with people of considerable skill among our members and a refurbishment scheme by volunteer labour (for all except a few areas of the work) was agreed in February 2006 and completed in time to coincide with the opening of the new meeting house.
In giving thanks to God, we acknowledge the sacrifice and vision of previous generations from whom we inherited our buildings. Their foresight and generosity has enabled the work of God’s church to flourish over the years and it is thrilling to see how so many of the present Congregation have enthusiastically grasped the vision of doing something with bricks and mortar that will provide a living witness to God as future generations of people worship God and work for the extension of His Kingdom in this locality and beyond.