The History of Dromore Baptist Church
By Mr Bobbie Baxter
In 1928, a few believers who were connected with a Mission Hall known as the Blue Room based in Church Street, became exercised about Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. They held a few Sunday morning meetings in the Mission Hall, but because it was interdenominational they were unable to continue. The group then met in a small house in Gallows Street for a short time.
The Brethren approached the late Pastor F. H. Forbes, who was the then Pastor of the Ballykeel Church, about starting a Baptist Church in Dromore. He very willingly gave them help and advice.
A room in Castle Street was rented from Mr William Sturgeon who had a stitching factory, and the room was converted into a hall seating about 80-100 people, and under the guidance of pastor Forbes the Church was formed on a Saturday in 1928, and the first Baptist meeting held.
In April 1929 the first Gospel Mission was conducted, the Evangelist being Pastor William Wilson. Many souls were saved in that first mission.
The way was not easy during these early times, and much opposition was experienced, but the few believers were faithful and plodded on. The names of these foundation members who have all been called home to glory will go down in the history of Dromore Baptist Church.
Pastor F. H. Forbes gave valuable assistance to the young Church, coming along each Wednesday night for the Bible Study, even though he had the Ballykeel and Derryneil Churches to look after.
Another Mission was conducted in the early days by Mr Tom Bailie and again many souls were saved.
There were some, never to be forgotten, Prayer Meetings held on Saturday nights. Sometimes a dance was held in the room above, but this did not affect the Prayer Meetings! An open air meeting held in Dromore Square would usually follow the Prayer Meeting.
Pastor William Beattie was then a young preacher who gave much valuable assistance to the Church. Often Pastor G. McClements, who was first starting out as a promising preacher, ministered in our services too. Pastor T. McNabb was just in the prime of his preaching and remained a great help to the young Church.
The membership was increased and as the hall was leased for only five years, the Church decided to look for a site to build.
There was a site available in Mossvale, but the Church neither had the money to buy the site or build the Church. A friend loaned the Church £100, which was sufficient to purchase the site, and in faith they went forward. The Church was built for £300, and in a few years the debt was cleared.
On Christmas day in 1932 the new Church building was opened with a conference of two meetings and this was followed by a further two meetings held on Boxing day. Despite the Christmas season, the building was packed on both days.
The first pastor called to the Church was pastor Sam Jardine in 1936, and he laboured faithfully in the Church and in having Missions in various parts of the country. He received a call from the Lurgan Church and left us at the end of 1937.
Our next Pastor was Pastor D. Hood, who arrived in 1938. Much blessing was received in his two years of ministry, after which he received and accepted a call from the Bangor Church.
During the war, we continued with supply Preachers and many were the hardships experienced during these years. Over these years of vacancy, faithful Gospel Missions were conducted in the Church building and in Tent Missions, by Pastors; H. H. Orr, J. A. McCrea, J. Irvine, J. Johnston, T. McNabb, W. McMullan, S. Carson, H. Moore, G. Thomas and T. P. O’Connor.
In 1949 a call was issued to Pastor J. Irvine, which he subsequently accepted, and he commenced his ministry on Sunday 4th August 1949, and continued to labour faithfully for 6 years. A feature of this period was the many missions that were conducted, especially around the Waringsford district, where many souls were saved.
Pastor Irvine received a call from the Dungannon Church, which he accepted, once again we were without a Pastor.
Pastor J. Doonan accepted a call from Dromore, and laboured faithfully for three years, before he resigned from the Church. Shortly afterwards he received a call from a Fellowship in South Shields, from where he went to be with the Lord.
A period of dissension followed in the Church, but after a time a special Meeting was called and as a result of this meeting, there was a uniting together again of the people.
In 1961, a new prayer room and kitchen were built, and the entire Church building renovated at the cost of a few thousand pounds.
Mr Noel McCullins had finished his studies at B.T.I. in Glasgow, and was available for preaching engagements. Dromore Baptist invited him for a period of three months and this in turn led to a call to the pastorate. His ministry commenced on 5th June 1964, and continued with much blessing during his five and a half year ministry. During this period pews were added to the Church building. Pastor McCullins received and accepted a call from the Wishaw Baptist Church in Scotland.
A call was issued and accepted by Mr Allan Kerr, and he commenced his ministry on 11th April 1974, and continued his faithful ministry. During this time, the size of the congregation increased to such an extent, that the partition which separated the Prayer Room from the Church had to be moved back, to facilitate extra seating being added. Pastor Kerr continued in Dromore until June 1983, when he accepted a call from Grove Baptist Church in Belfast.
Pastor Tom McLaughlin was called and commenced his ministry on 18th April 1985, and under his faithful ministry and work the membership grew.
A Special Church Business Meeting was held on 18th may 1986 and a decision was taken to look for a new site and erect a new Church building. Much difficulty was experienced in finding a suitable site with sufficient car parking space, but finally one was located on Maypole Hill. Many problems emerged, the site being owned by four different people, and only after much prayer and time, every obstacle was removed, and in September 1992 work began on the site. The new building was opened on Sunday 8th October 1994. In 1995 Pastor Tom McLaughlin was called to the ministry at Mullaghmeen Baptist Church.
In June 1998 Pastor Jim Magill was called and commenced his ministry. Early in 2006, work commenced on a new hall and suite of rooms at the rear of the church and the new building was officially opened to the Glory of our Lord on Sunday evening, 14th October 2007 by Pastor Jim Magill and Mrs Moyra Coulter officiated by cutting the ribbon.