THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: St Peter’s Church on Antrim Road celebrates its Golden Jubilee

From the News Letter, June 26, 1950

Saturday, 26th June 2021, 6:00 am
St Peter's Church of Ireland on the Antrim Road in Belfast. Picture: Google
St Peter's Church of Ireland on the Antrim Road in Belfast. Picture: Google

The Primate of all Ireland (the Most Reverend Dr J A F Gregg) was the preacher at the opening service of the golden jubilee celebrations of St Peter’s Parish Church on the Antrim Road, Belfast in June 1950 reported the News Letter.

The Primate said that in St Peter’s Day 50 previously, the eastern portion of the church had been licensed and opened for worship, and that in 1933 the building, had been enlarged “as it was now”, had been consecrated.

He said that remembered well the beginning of the district, for he had been serving in the diocese the time.

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He reminisced: “St Peter’s had become a parish in 1900, and during the 50 years there had been only two incumbents - Archdeacon Brett, 24 years, and Dr Breene, now 26 years.”

He said that it was an interesting sign of the growth of Belfast and of the corresponding growth of the Church of Ireland in the city that in 1938 St Katharine’s parochial district had been formed. The district had become a parish in 1941.

The church in Belfast, the Primate went on to say, “was, under God, to be congratulated warmly on the vitality of its people”.

He added: “What surer sign can be shown of liveness than that district like St Peter’s should become a parish, and, in turn, give birth to a new district which itself speedily became a parish?”

The Primate added that he prayed that God “would bless present and future generations of church people the results of forethought, planning and liberality of those who worshipped in St Peter’s during those creative, formative 50 years”.

The service was conducted by the rector (the Reverend Dr R S Breene, MA), assisted by the Reverend T G McAlister, MA (curate).

The Reverend J R B McDonald, BD., a former curate, who was home on leave from Mukono. Uganda, was present, and he and the Reverend J Roundhill acted as chaplains to the Primate.

St Peter’s Choir, assisted by the Youth Guild Choir, led the praise.

The offertory was in aid of the organ renovation fund.

The Roamer also referred to St Peter’s Golden Jubilee in their column on the same day in 1950.

They wrote: “A well-produced book issued in connection with the Golden Jubilee of St Peter’s Church, Belfast (which takes place this week), is out of the usual run of such publications in that it includes a comprehensive account of the history the district and a chapter on conditions and events in Britain at the time the church was opened. “One of the best things in the book (which has been written and compiled by the rector Chancellor Breene) is reprint from Nomad’s Weekly of a visit to St Peter’s in 1906 penned by the late William J Livingstone, it is in satirical vein.

“Here, for instance, is his impression of the congregation: ‘On every side we see the familiar faces of the merchant princes of Belfast. There is a distinct flavour of petrol in the air, while every male - and some of the females - bear evident traces of the golf links in their weather-beaten, sun-brown faces, here are men who have made much money in trade as to despise trade and men with sufficient blue blood in their veins to enable them to wear badly-cut clothes with an air distinction.’”