A MAJOR milestone in the 230-year history of Dromore Methodist Church is on the horizon as a brand-new, £380,000 hall nears completion after 15 years in the pipeline.

President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Rev. Donald P. Ker, is due to open the new church hall on Saturday (November 28), when he will preach at a special service to mark the occasion.

According to Dromore Methodist minister, the Rev. Colin Gracie, Ballynahinch architect Mr. Jimmy Anderson and Dromara builders, John Smyth Developments, have been pulling out all the stops to have everything ready for the big day.

Meanwhile, the congregation itself has managed to meet more than half of the price tag for the hall and continues to strive towards the projected 380,000 target.

The church has extended an open invitation to Saturday's service, beginning at 2.30pm

The new hall extends the old schoolhouse built in 1896 (the present church was built in 1871 and there has been a Methodist Society in Dromore since 1779) and includes new toilets, kitchen and store-rooms.

Said Mr. Gracie, "Such new facilities inevitably come with a price; just over half the projected cost of 380,000 has been met and the congregation is very grateful to all those in Dromore and beyond who have supported us thus far.

"Whilst there is much still to raise, everyone is confident that, under God's guidance, this target will soon be met."

It is the congregation's vision that the new hall will be part of its mission to further engage with, and witness to, the life of the town.

Mr. Gracie said that in recent years, as many in the town had come to know the church on Maypole Hill, its needs had grown.

"Friday nights have seen many boys and girls from the local area come to the Youth Club," he said. "On Monday nights it is the turn of the Rainbows, Brownies and Girl Guides.

"Mothers and toddlers from across the town make for a lively 'Little Acorns' on Wednesday mornings.

"The 'crafty' amongst us join with the Wesleyan Crafts on Thursday mornings, whilst Wednesday afternoons see the more sedate activities of the Senior Citizens' Club.

"The new facilities will also provide a home for the Bible Studies, Prayer Meetings, Methodist Women in Ireland and Church Council meetings as well as Sunday School classes and all the other activities of a busy church."

There will be another opportunity to have a look around the new church hall on Saturday, December 5, when from 10am-12.30pm the Sunday School and Girl Guides will be hosting a coffee morning, including a stall of the Wesleyan Crafts.