More than 500 people have turned out to celebrate the opening and dedication of a new Presbyterian church in Co Down.
Moira Presbyterian Church was officially opened and dedicated by the Rt Rev Dr Frank Sellar, moderator of the General Assembly, on Friday.
The service was led by the minister, the Rev Howard Gilpin, who gave the call to worship and welcomed the congregation and guests who included the Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.
In his address, Rev Sellar said that the opening of a new church building is a splendid thing and the temptation now is to sit back and relax.
But the moderator added: “While it’s a marvellous achievement to construct a new building, it’s even more vital to live faithful, vibrant Christ-like lives”.
Rev Gilpin, who has served as minister of the congregation since 2001, told the News letter: “The new church building is wonderful and features very modern facilities such as a coffee bar, crèche, dedicated meeting room and other offices.
“Over 500 people attended the opening and dedication service, and the response to the new building has been very positive and encouraging.
“The old church building was inadequate for the needs of the congregation and this new premises will serve us well as we look ahead to the future.”
In historical terms this is one of the older congregations of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, dating back to the late 17th Century.
The new church build is the fifth meeting house in the history of the congregation; the previous one had been built in 1829 and served the congregation for almost 190 years. The present congregation consists of 275 families.