Our history


In the late 1940s Abbots Cross was a fast developing area with new houses being built and families moving into the area.  Some people from Whiteabbey Presbyterian Church foresaw a need for having a permanent Christian presence in the local area. After visiting a site at Abbots Cross, a decision was made for a Church Extension Project to begin. Abbots Cross Presbyterian Church came into being - on 29th May 1949 a Sunday School began in two Nissan huts and on 20th November 1949 the first service of public worship was held. Ten people attended. From that point onwards Abbots Cross Presbyterian Church grew steadily.  


The first meeting place of Abbots Cross Presbyterian Church in 1949.


Harry Magill was ordained as the first minister on 22 January 1953 and served for sixteen years.  During these early years of the fellowship, a number of organisations began; these included a Brownie Pack, a Lifebuoy team, the 103rd Belfast Boys' Brigade, a Sunday morning Bible Class for boys, a Woman's Missionary Association, a Girls' Brigade Company, and a Christian Endeavour.


In 1956 the foundation stones of the new Hall/Church (dual purpose) were laid, and the building was completed by the following year.  It was officially opened on 9th March 1957, and a hall was added in 1964.


In 1959 a Children's Church was introduced, also the Robins and a Youth Fellowship. Abbots Cross Church was constituted to the full status of a Congregation in the Presbyterian Church on 17th January 1960.


Rev H Magill reading a story to some of the children at Abbots Cross Church.


In June 1961 Abbots Cross was chosen as the centre for the district Billy Graham relay from Manchester. Many of the neighbouring churches co-operated. As a result of these meetings sixteen people professed faith in Jesus Christ. The following year during an Inter-Varsity Mission a further number was added to the Kingdom of God. The congregation now consisted of 520 families. 195 of this number were Communicant members. Children's Church catered for approximately 130 children. The different sections of the Christian Endeavour were continuing to grow. The new hall was opened on 18th March 1964.


Junior Christian Endeavour along with teachers, in 1962.


Rev Magill worked for 19 years, doing an enormous amount of work in building up the congregation for the Lord. On 16th February 1969 he laid down the charge. On 1st May 1969 a call was made and accepted by the Rev William Fleming of Trinity, Ahoghill. He and his wife were welcomed to Abbots Cross on 18th June 1969.  Work amongst the children expanded in the formation of Good News Clubs which had around 200 meeting in a number of homes. The Holiday Bible School held in August attracted 550 children.


Dr Fleming at his installation on 18th June 1969.


A new feature in the church programme under Rev Fleming's ministry was the introduction of Home Bible Study Groups, which were instrumental in creating close friendships in addition to spiritual stimulation.  At the same time, there was great uncertainty and unrest across Northern Ireland. Around this time the congregation was changing month by month with families leaving the district and new families joining.


In the early part of 1981 the Kirk Session carried out a general survey of unemployment in the congregation, which revealed this to be a growing problem. Subsequently a 'Voluntary Job Information Centre' was set up which enabled some to find work.


In 1987 Rev Fleming was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. In September 1989 a new event was introduced familiarly known as the 'Men's Dinner' (now called Men's Fellowship), which took place monthly and became very popular. Talks at these meetings were given by many interesting and varied speakers. The talks were preceded by a four course meal. The catering was carried out by a faithful number of ladies from the congregation. To show their appreciation the men treated the ladies to a meal elsewhere, on an annual basis.


The Magill Hall opened on 12th November 1988. Mrs Magill preformed the opening ceremony and unveiled a plaque in memory of her late husband.  Meetings for the senior men of the congregation commenced, taking place on Wednesday mornings. These meetings are still providing fellowship and relaxation. 


On 23rd May 1994 a call was given to Rev Ivan Neish of Cloughey and Portavogie churches.  This call was accepted and Ivan was installed by the Presbytery of North Belfast on 1st September 1994. The ministry in Abbots Cross has continued ever since, with further development of Small Groups meeting in homes across the local community, the introduction of Just Women and 'Mixed Doubles' (for those aged 10 and over).


Ivan, Valerie and family, pictured in the Manse in 1999.


As we look back over the history of Abbots Cross Presbyterian Church, we are grateful for the many people down through the years who have served the Lord in so many ways. The life of any church family does not consist of its leaders, but all those who make up its membership.


As we look back over the history of the church family, we also look forward to the years in God's will that lie ahead. We continue to move on and adapt to a changing world and society, recognising that what God uses in one generation may be different from another. However, the one thing that will never, and must never change, is the message upon which the church is built, the good news that Christ died to save sinners and to bring us into his family and Kingdom. In this message we rejoice and to this we must always be faithful.


Abbots Cross Presbyterian Church on a summer's day in 2013.

Sunday services

Morning - 11am

Evening - 6.30pm


Abbots Cross Presbyterian Church

91 Doagh Road


Northern Ireland

BT37 9QN


Tel: 028 9085 2120

Email:  info@acpc.co.uk

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