History Of The Formation Of The Witness For Christ

How It All Began - The Free Presbyterian Church
On St. Patrick’s Day, 1951, a new Biblical witness for Christ was born in the village of Crossgar, County Down, Northern Ireland. As a result of the high-handed actions of the Down Presbytery, the elders of the local Presbyterian church were banned from using their church hall for a Gospel mission. When the leaders refused to acquiesce, they were suspended. All this took place less than twenty-four hours before the mission was due to commence.
Those elders could not go back to their church without denying or compromising the gospel. So they decided to leave a denomination that permitted dances and parties of various kinds in its church halls but which, in this case, banned the gospel of Jesus Christ.

With the help of the Rev. Ian Paisley, their guest evangelist, they formed the Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster. From four congregations in that first year, the growth of the new church continued until its witness spread to all parts of Northern Ireland. The church was founded to faithfully preach and defend the gospel of Christ in an age of growing compromise and apostasy. That determination is still to be found in every Free Presbyterian Church.

The church has now spread well beyond the boundary of Northern Ireland. Today there are about one hundred Free Presbyterian churches and extensions throughout the world; in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, the Irish Republic, Australia, Canada, USA, Germany, Jamaica and Spain with missionaries in many other places.

How It All Began - In Markethill

Markethill is a small picturesque country town built around its local market. Set in the south Armagh area which has suffered 378 murders in the last thirty years it has experienced some of the worst atrocities carried out by Republican terrorists.
However, in the midst of this darkness the Lord in November 1982 sent a light in the form of an old time gospel campaign conducted by the Rev. Harry Cairns, then minister of Omagh Free Presbyterian Church. A Sunday afternoon meeting continuing on after the mission the Rev. David Smith was placed as a Student Minister by the Presbytery on the 7th October 1983. Mr. Smith remained with the congregation for just over five years before moving to pioneer a new work in Tavistock in the South of England.

The congregation being constituted on the 28th December 1985 the Committee then felt it was time to consider erecting a permanent church building. After much prayer a site was eventually purchased on the Tandragee Road and the first sod for the new building was cut on the 12th November 1988. 

Click here to see pictures of the construction of Markethill Free Presbyterian Church.

The work continuing to progress the Rev. David McLaughlin was placed as a student minister in 1989 and remained with the congregation for just over one year. The new church building was formally opened by Dr. Paisley on the 12th September 1992.
Another milestone was reached on the 5th July 1996 when the Rev. Thomas Murray was installed as the congregation's first ordained minister. Mr. Murray, a native of Limavady, had formerly been the minister of Mulvin for sixteen years. Under his ministry the congregation has continued to grow and was further strengthened early this year with the ordination of its first two elders, Mr. W. McMullan and Mr. M. Spratt.

View a Powerpoint Presentation of the history of Markethill Free Presbyterian Church.

(Written to mark the 20th anniversary in 2002)