IN PICTURES: Ballymena Baptist Church opening

SATURDAY 14 June marked the official opening of the Ballymena Baptist Church building on the site of the original building, which was constructed nearly 150 years ago. Read more and view pictures...

The service was the culmination of a week of events and celebrations including a meal and opportunity to view the facilities for immediate neighbours on Wednesday evening.

Thursday was an open night for everyone and Friday was a special Youth Service with youth groups from the town and across the province attending.

The new church was officially opened by Mrs Molly Small, the longest serving member of Ballymena Baptist and Mr Sandy Gaston (church member) performed the prayer of dedication.

The ceremony was followed by a praise service in the new church. The speaker was Dr Steve Brady, Principal of Moorlands Bible College and two praise sessions were led by the church musical director, Mr Ken Moore, and praise leader Steve Rainey. Dr Brady was also the guest speaker at the Sunday Services.

During the service the work of the church's building committee was acknowledged with each member of the committee receiving a gift in recognition of their dedication and commitment during the project. The committee consists of John Potter (Chair), Alfie Mairs, Colin Spence, Gordon Smith & Ian Hayburn.

Others taking part in the service were elder Ken Poston and church worker Eilish Agnew. John Shearer and Harold Chambers, both former Pastors of Ballymena Baptist, also took part with Pastor Shearer reading the scriptures and praying, and Pastor Chambers closing in prayer. Greetings were brought to the fellowship by Rev. Daniel Kane from our neighbouring churches, Pastor William Colville from the Association of Baptist Churches and Mr James (Seamus) Greenwood, a former member of the church.

The new modern building is on 3 levels with lots of rooms, a youth lounge, games area, office space, modern catering facilities and a sports hall. The auditorium has a seating capacity of over 500, and has been finished to a high technical specification with 'state of the art' audio visual capabilities.

Church Pastor, Freddie McClaughlin, said: "A lot of effort and work has gone into this project. On behalf of the fellowship I would like to thank everyone who has made it possible for Ballymena Baptist Church to function over the last 18 months. In particular the Faith Mission for allowing us to use their facilities for our mid-week prayer and business meetings, Lantara Baptist Church for welcoming our ladies and 'seniors' ministries and the Washbasin where our youth met on Saturday nights.

Over the last 18 months the fellowship has been blessed and our prayer is that as we look to the future in our new building we will see God glorified in all we do, and that ultimately we will see individuals come to Christ and acknowledge Him as their Lord and Saviour."

Pastor McClaughlin went on to state that: "It is the hope of the fellowship that their new building will not only provide a welcoming facility for the local community, but will also be a place where people will experience the joy of forgiveness, reconciliation and the reality of God's unconditional love."

Since Pastor McClaughlin joined the church as pastor in January this year he, along with the church leadership, has been working hard with the various departments and ministries, as well as individual members, to develop a vision for Ballymena Baptist going forward.

In conclusion Pastor McClaughlin said: "While it is great to have a lovely building with lots of facilities, Ballymena Baptist is all about seeking what God wants from us both as individuals and as a body of believers.

"We want to be relevant to the community in which we have been placed, and our ultimate goal is to experience God's blessing through acknowledging Christ as Saviour and Lord, seeing individuals develop real and meaningful relationships with Christ and seeing God's Kingdom growing on earth. The strapline from our logo really sums it all up – living to please Him."