Magheramason Presbyterian Church
Victoria Road
Magheramason
Londonderry
BT47 2RX


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INTERIM SESSION 

An Interim Session, consisting of members of Glendermott Presbytery, looked after the affairs of the Congregation prior to the appointment of the first clergyman.

In the Minutes of Glendermott Presbytery, dated 5th Nov., 1878, there is found the following:- 

The Interim Session met at Magheramason and made out a list of Communicants "in connection therewith it was reported that what purported to be a Certificate from the Session of 2nd Donagheady for Mr. John Coulter was found not to be genuine. It was agreed that Mr. Coulter's name be struck off the Communicants' Roll and that the Interim Session be instructed to make inquiry regarding the person who handed in the said document."


CHURCH SESSION
(As reported in the Centenary Handbook of 1978)

The Minutes of Session Meetings were normally brief. Business was largely routine, such as making arrangements for Communion, examining and receiving new communicants and electing representatives for attendance at Church Courts.

The earliest record relates to a Meeting of Session held on 31st May, 1881, attended by the Minister, Rev. Thomas Boyd, and the four elders, Messrs. Victor Love, John McCorkell, John James Love and William McCarter.  At this meeting Mr. McCarter was appointed Clerk, the first in Magheramason.

It was arranged that a meeting for prayer be held in the Session Room on the first Sunday of each month at "one quarter before 12 o'clock, all the members of Session to take their part and at each meeting leading prayer very briefly, for the Blessing of God and the outpouring of His Spirit on the Minister, on his Service in the Church, on the Congregation and the families of the Congregation, and for the School of the Sabbath, for "the Children of the Church and the Church's Sabbath School Teachers; and that a Prayer Meeting be held in the School Room, on each alternate Thursday evening at 6 o'clock."

It was also decided that the Congregation be divided into four districts" at; conveniently arranged as possible" for the Elders each to have charge of a "district", and that the Elders visit these districts two or three weeks before each Communion and at the same time give "Communicant Cards of Admission" to the members throughout their districts. It was also arranged that families or members of families in each district who should be absent from Church two Sabbaths in succession be visited by the elder of the district, "the cause of absence ascertained and induce them to attend more regularly."

At this first Meeting of Session (the Minute is perhaps one of the longest recorded) it was also agreed that "applications for the relief of poor members of the Congregation be made, when required, to the Session and given only by their concurrence."  It is interesting to note that, at a Meeting some twelve years later, the case of a woman living alone without means of support applied for assistance, and definite action was postponed until "State of Church funds in hand could be ascertained."  There is no indication of what the final outcome was, nor is there any record of another such application.

A minute of 3rd November, 1881 records that Sarah Jane Hall was admitted by examination to the membership of the Church. She was the first person so admitted. The same minutes also record that Thomas Doherty came before the Session and stated that "he has been in full communion with the Church in America, but that on his leaving there, the Minister was from home and he got no Certificate." However it was resolved that Mr. Doherty be admitted to the Communion of the Church at Magheramason.

Occasionally some rather delicate matters had to be resolved. For instance there were two or three cases where mothers sought Baptism of their illegitimate children, and had to appear before the Session to admit their fault and show signs of repentance before the children could be baptised or the culprits admitted to Communion.

There was also a case where a Meeting of Session and Assessors (the latter appointed by the Presbytery) was called to consider and deal with a "Fama clamosa" affecting the character and status of an elder, when it was carried that the case be referred for investigation and adjudication to the Presbytery. At a subsequent meeting of Presbytery the "fama of intemperance" came before it. The elder concerned appeared and apologised for his indiscretion and expressed regret for "the slur which had rested on the Church through me."  The apology was accepted and no further action taken.

There are no direct references to either World War I or World War II, but the following might be of interest. World War I ended in 1918 and was followed by a serious epidemic of influenza. It is recorded in the Minutes of Thursday, May 15, 1919 as follows:  'Session met to prepare a Report from the Session on the work of the year ending 31st March, 1919, this report to be read at a Congregational Meeting to be held on 22nd May.  The Report, which was adopted, stated:-

"The Kirk Session reports, with thankfulness to Almighty God, a year of quiet steady Christian Endeavour. Our Minister was absent from us on Active Service with the  Y.M.C.A. during the whole of the year except for short leaves, and we wish to acknowledge with gratitude the faithful Services of the Rev. James Connell B.A.(2nd Donaheady) who did whatever pastoral work was necessary. We also thank the Presbytery of Derry for seeing to the supply of the Pulpit on Sabbath Days, and especially the Rev. R. W. Ross, who spared himself no trouble to see that the Congregation was well provided for in this respect.

"We regret that Death has taken a heavier toll than usual, twelve of our membership having passed beyond the Shadows. To all the families who have been bereaved we tender our deepest sympathy, commending them to the Father of all Mercies and the God of all Consolation. During the period covered by the report there have been twelve Baptisms in the Congregation. The number on our Communicants' Roll stands at 241.

"Now that our Minister is back with us, we would urge on all our People the duty of waiting with regularity and expectancy on the ordinances of God's House, and of keeping their tryst with the Master at His Table as often as the opportunity to do so is afforded them.

'Wait on the Lord, be of Good Courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: Wait, I say, on the Lord.' "

THE SESSION

Elders:

Original

Victor Love, John McCorkell, John Jas. Love, Wm. McCarter.

Ordained 1895 February, 28th

William Young, John Rankin.

Ordained 1912 October 31st

Geo. McCarter, William McNeely, David McCorkell.

Ordained 1921 August, 4th

Robt. Gamble, John McNeely, R. J. Montgomery, Josias Ramon

Ordained 1937 October, 24th

 John Donnell, William Goligher, V. M. Love, Robt. McNeely, James Todd, John Turner.

Ordained 1954 October, 17th

J. Derek Anderson, R. A. Finlay, R. S. Gamble, John McCorkell, Andrew McNeely, Andrew A. Walker.

Ordained 1965 September, 19th

Joseph Doherty, W. Edgar C. Kennedy, Robert Lowry, T. Archibald McCorkell, Alan Mitchell, J. B. Rankin.

Ordained 1974 November, 17th

T. Basil Craig, Thomas Doherty, Cecil McBride, W. N. McCrea, (Mrs.) Lorna E. McNeely, H. Montgomery, Samuel M. Montgomery, (Mrs.) Mary S. Todd.

SESSION CLERKS:

Mr. Wm. McCarter

1881-1882 (Died Dec. 1936)

Mr. Victor Love

1883-1904 (Died Nov. 1904)

Mr. Wm. McNeely

1912-1949 (Died Jan. 1949)

Mr. Robert McNeely

1950-

VIEW THE SESSION PHOTO GALLERY

19th October, 1925: 
(Rev. F. W. C. Wallace's First Meeting) 

Rev. Wallace reported that a gift of individual Communion cups had been presented to the Congregation by Miss Susan Hall of Tully in memory of her late sister and brother, Miss Catherine Hall and Mr. Robinson Hall.

The records of Meetings of Kirk Session in the last two or three decades are much fuller and more informative than those of previous years. They show that the Session has been deeply concerned, not only with domestic matters, but also with wider aspects of the Church's function and purpose.

Discussions on many and varied matters are recorded, e.g. the calling of new Ministers, introduction of evening Communion, formation of Youth Clubs for older teenagers, dancing in Church Hall, Church Music, the Sunday School, the appointment of women to Church Committee and to eldership, visiting, missions in our Church, drinking and driving (prompted by a tragic accident at the Church gate), vandalism (after damage had been done to Church property), inattention and even restlessness during Church Services.

In the wider field there have been lively discussions on various Evangelic and Missionary topics, e.g., "Spreading the Christian Gospel," "Flame 74," when it was decided to hold seven full attendance Sundays with special preachers.

The filling up of a query sheet from Church House on "What does it mean to be 'The Church' in a situation of Conflict!" was not taken lightly. Session decided that representatives from the Session, Committee, Youth Club, B.B., G.B., P.W.A. and Congregation generally, would study the query sheet, and after discussion formulate replies.

There have been several Elder Conferences attended by members the Kirk Session. One held in Magheramason on the theme "The Role of the Church - What it stands for" was followed by a Second Stage on the theme -" Spreading the Christian Gospel."

The ecumenical aspect of religious life has been given due attention. Not only have United Services with the neighbouring Church of Ireland, Reformed Presbyterian Church and Methodist Church been held, but the Session have met on some occasions with members of Church of Ireland, Reformed Presbyterian and Methodist Churches for discussion.

The erection of a Combined or United Church at Newbuildings has been discussed several times in recent years, and the Session has finally decided that "...while wishing to preserve the good relations built up over the years with the Methodist Church in Newbuildings, the Session is of the opinion that the proposal (i.e. to build a United Church at Newbuildings) is not practical and that no further discussion or action be taken in the matter."

For the records it is easy to see that our Kirk Session over the past I 00 years has taken its role seriously and prayerfully and our present Session upholds the high standard set up by their predecessors. Their decisions are considered - their aims are ever for the betterment and progress of the Church, not in Magheramason only, but much further afield. To these ends they invoke God's aid and the support of the Congregation.

LICENTIATE 
The only licentiate for the Ministry from Magheramason Congregation is Alan Mitchell, who was accepted as a Student for the Ministry on 21st June, 1971 and was licensed at a Special Service held on 19th June, 1977.

To mark the latter occasion the Session presented Alan with two Volumes of "The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible."

Alan has been appointed Superintendent of the Irish Mission and secretary to the Board of Christian Evangelism.

VISITATIONS 
The first visitation by the Presbytery of Derry was on Tuesday, 1st August, 1883, and the representatives of Session who were appointed to answer the prescribed questions, were Mr. Victor Love and Mr. John McCorkell. The finding was most complimentary to the Minister, Session, Committee and Congregation, for their cooperation in the various affairs of the Church, but it also stated "that the Presbytery would rejoice to see more manifest signs of spiritual life and prosperity and are of the opinion that a much larger number of the Congregation should attend the public ordinances of the Sanctuary."

Other visitations took place in 1894, 1902, 1913, 1927, 1937, 1947, 1967, 1976, and the findings on all occasions were generally favourable - with an occasional recommendation such as "more generous support for Sustentation Fund," "increase insurance of Church property," "increase giving to Missions."


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