Banbridge Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church is holding a special service on Sunday September 11 to celebrate 300 years since the founding of the First Presbyterian Church in the town.
The preacher will be the Rev Dr John Nelson, Vice President of the Presbyterian Historical Society.
Not only is 2016 the 300th anniversary of the founding of the congregation, it is also the 170th anniversary of the opening of the present church building in Downshire Road in 1846.
The original church was on Lurgan Road, in what is now termed Old Meeting House Green.
The congregation worshipped there until 1846, when they moved to the impressive new church opened on October 6 that year.
The size and quality of the building reflected a congregation that was both large and wealthy.
The minister at the time was the Rev James Davis who penned the document of protest against the treatment of Non-Subscribers by the General Synod, known as the Remonstrance.
The new denomination was inaugurated when the Remonstrant Synod of Ulster met for the first time in May 1830.
Davis died on July 21 1847, and is buried in the graveyard at Old Meeting House Green, under the site of his old pulpit.
Back in 1850, the church had a congregation of 960 individual members.
Numbers have declined over the years, and Banbridge Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church is now linked with Newry and Warrenpoint.
The Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland is a small but significant denomination with a historical witness to liberal Christianity.
The Rev Norman Hutton has been Minister in Banbridge since 2001. “Our membership is somewhat less than since the church was dedicated,” Rev Hutton said.
“But it still adheres to the same principles established in 1828, when the Rev Davis drew up the document known as the Remonstrance – namely, to worship God in sincerity, agreeably to the dictates of one’s conscience, without privation, penalty or inconvenience inflicted by ones fellow being.”
The anniversary service begins at 3.30pm on Sunday September 11 and Reverend Hutton and the congregation extend a warm welcome to anyone who would like to join them to celebrate this milestone in the history of this beautiful church.