The following words are contained in the Sentence of Consecration of Holy Trinity Parish Church, dated 24th September 1849: – ‘whereas the church in the Parish of Ballywalter is in ruins and the site inconveniently situated ……a new site acquired by an act of the Lord Lieutenant and Privy Council of Ireland’….
The ruins referred to above are located in Whitechurch Cemetery, just North-West of the present church. The east and west gables and part of the south wall alone stand to any height, elsewhere the walls are reduced to foundation or have completely disappeared; the surviving masonry is heavily overgrown with ivy. The building is probably substantially of the 13th Century, with some 15th century reconstruction, although some parts are dated earlier than 13th century. However, by the mid-17th century the church had fallen into disrepair (we know,for example, that in 1657 it had only a thatched roof). So early in Queen Anne’s reign it was decided to abandon the Ballywalter church (along with the one in Ballyhalbert) and build a new church to serve a Union of the three parishes –Ballywalter, Ballyhalbert and Innishargie. In 1704, the new church of St.Andrew, Innishargie was erected.
For well over a hundred years, St.Andrew’s was the centre of Church life in the area. However, during the early 19th century people began to realise that one church was not enough. Ballywalter, Ballyhalbert and Kircubbin, all in the Parish of St.Andrew, were growing in population and needed churches of their own. By an Act of Council, dated 29th June,1844, the Union of Ballywalter, Ballyhalbert and Innishargie was dissolved and they were declared separate and distinct parishes. In this re-division, the ancient Parish of Innishargie disappeared; but St.Andrew’s church still stands. (It is known as Balligan Church and the twice monthly services of Choral Evensong in that church form an important part of the spiritual life of Ballywalter Parish).
Thus “a new site was acquired” in Ballywalter, the foundation stone was laid in 1847 and the church, (consisting then of the main Nave, Chancel and Sanctuary only) was consecrated on 24th September,1849. It had a seating accommodation of 145.
The church was enlarged and restored in 1891, with the addition of the side aisle, organ and choir, porch and vestry to give us the church as we have it today.
The church is enhanced by the beauty of the stain glass windows which mostly date from this time.
The organ was built by Peter Conagher in 1891 and was tonally redesigned in 1964. It has two manuals and pedals
Great: Open Diapaison 8, Stopt Diapaison 8, Principal 4, Fifteenth 2, Mixture 19,22 II
Swell: Gedect 8, Gemshorn 4, Blockflute 2, Sesquialtera 17,19 II, Mixture 22,26,29 III, Contra Fagotto 16, Tremulant
Pedal: Grand Bourdon 16, Bourdon 16.
Parish of Ballywalter – Clergy list and year of appointment
1437 – John O’Heran
1442 – James O’Biedran
1625/1626- James Hamilton
1657 – Anthony Shaw
1661 – Robert Pierce
1692 – David Maxwell
1699 –Hans Montgomery
1727 – Francis Hamilton
1729 /30 – John Mercer
1769 – William Lodge
1770 – Peter Windsor
1775 – Roger Blackhall
1790 – Holt Waring
1798 – William Boyd
1824 – Francis Ed.Lascelles
1844 – Hugh Wilson
1878 – John O’Reilly Blackwood
1884 – William McManus
1887 – John O’R Blackwood (2nd time)
1895 – John Alexander Greer
1901 – William Shaw Kerr
1910 – John B.A.Hughes
1921 – William Kelly
1925 – Mervyn Archdale
1937 – Cecil T Jackson
1974 – Cecil R Mitchell
1982 – Desmond Hanna
1990 –John R.L. Bowley
2014 – Susan C Bell
We are open to and engage with our local community at all levels. We achieve this through regular public worship ,and through our community outreach programme. We have seven Sunday services per month (nine in a five Sunday month) (see Calendar).
In addition we have services on Ash Wednesday, and Good Friday, Holy Communion on the Thursday of Holy Week, Midnight Communion on Christmas Eve, and carols on Christmas morning. We celebrate Mothering Sunday, Easter and Harvest with Festival Services. We also have a very popular special evening of Christmas themed poems, readings and music with the Ballywalter Flute Band on the first Sunday evening in December.
Community groups use our church for special weekday and Sunday events including Ballywalter Primary School (Weekday Harvest Celebration), Royal British Legion( Remembrance and special events), Ballywalter and District Orange Lodges, Childrens’ Seaside Mission(CSSM) Ulster Society of Organists and Choirmasters(USOC)( specialist musical history and history of the organ.) On the Monday,Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, we have Easter -themed meditations in the church which are open to all of any faith or none. This year, we also had an evening of music, poems and readings with a harvest theme, and, on Good Friday, a service called ‘Voices of the Cross’ which followed the events of Good Friday through the eyes of the people at the foot of the cross, interspersed with music and hymns for Good Friday. This proved to be a very moving and thought- provoking evening.
Our congregation warmly welcomes visitors, individuals and families who have recently moved to Ballywalter and the surrounding area. The church has a parish choir, All Age Singing Group, Mother’s Union, Community Bible Study, Going for Growth group, All Age planning group and Monday prayer Group, who meet regularly through the week for Bible Study, prayer and friendship.
In addition, community outreach is achieved through CSSM, the Girls’ Brigade, Community Bible Study, Going for Growth Group and our market stalls held on four Saturday mornings during July and August. Barn dances and Old Tyme dances also contribute to our social outreach. We also host a ‘Big Breakfast’ for Christian Aid for the whole community during Christian Aid week. New, this year we also held a very successful Childrens’ Holiday Club from 3rd-5th April for all the children in our community in p1-p7 age group. Everyone really enjoyed following the Quest for the Great Pearl (adults included!) and a rowing boat even found its way into the chancel of the church along with a pirates’ cave and a full size skeleton.
We hope to continue to hold more and different events to those described above, so that we may share our Christian faith and worship, and to warmly welcome newcomers to the village as the parish continues to grow. We wish to minister to all age–groups and hope that our ministry to children and young people will grow and develop. An important part of our ministry is to help mission and famine relief in poorer areas of the world and we would like this to develop and continue.