Belfast Telegraph

Back Then: Story of Joymount Church brought to book

How retired minister Derek Weir restored Carrick church's place in history

By Eddie McIlwaine

If the folk at his Loan Ends Presbyterian Church hadn't presented him with a farewell memorial sign when he was leaving the pulpit, the Rev Derek Weir might never have written a book about another place of worship which is turning out to be a 200-plus page turner.

The sign, now on display in his garden, declares: 'A retired minister is a wife's full-time job.'

It started Derek, now in his 70s, thinking about what he was going to do with himself in retirement from both the Loan Ends and Killead congregations in South Antrim.

So he accepted an invitation from the Rev Richard Graham to write the history of his Joymount Presbyterian Church in Carrickfergus, built in 1852.

He put five years of research into 'The Church Outside the Walls' (W&G Baird £10) which has now been published with profits going to Joymount.

The explanation for the title is that Carrick was once a walled city and Joymount is right beside a section of the wall that remains solid and intact to this day.

Derek recalls how he and Joymount member Hugh Henderson found a Burning Bush memorial to the foundation of Irish Presbyterianism in 1652 that had mysteriously vanished from the Market Place in Carrick. The memorial was restored and re-dedicated by the Moderator of the General Assembly, Dr Michael Barry, and today has a special spot in a garden.

"During my research it has become obvious that this Carrick place of worship has such a friendly atmosphere," stresses Mr Weir. "Right from the beginning, when Rev James Warwick was the first minister in 1851, all of Joymount's six clergy stayed for their full term. There have been no rows."

One story included in the book is how the Rev John Y Minford shocked the community when he refused to sign the Ulster Covenant in 1912.

Copies of The Church Outside the Walls can be ordered from Joymount Church Office at Robinson's Row.

The calendar that blossomed into a floral tribute to a special father

The last wish of Canon Jim Musgrave, a Church of Ireland clergyman for 54 years, was for his family to design a calendar on the theme of his favourite flower, the nasturtium.

So son Stephen and daughter-in-law Beth collected a batch of assorted pictures of the little flowers which the 94-year-old canon mentioned often in his sermons.

And they set to on a labour of love to carefully print out the pretty photographs of the 12 months of this very year of 2015, each one with an eye-catching print of a nasturtium.

"We finished our task just in time and presented the calendar to my father just before he passed away," explains Stephen. "He loved it and we were overjoyed that we had granted his request. He adored the outdoors and in every garden of every one of his five manses, he grew fresh flowers and vegetables.

"He gave me an ideal upbringing as an only child, especially after my mother Kitty, to whom he was devoted during their 28 years of married life, died at only 66.

"The nasturtium calendar will be his memorial even when 2015 is done."

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