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Doors close on Windsor Presbyterian Church


Emotional farewell: Windsor Presbyterian Church in south Belfast first opened its doors in 1887

Emotional farewell: Windsor Presbyterian Church in south Belfast first opened its doors in 1887

Emotional farewell: Windsor Presbyterian Church in south Belfast first opened its doors in 1887

A church in Belfast which opened 135 years ago will close its doors this Sunday at the end of its morning service.

Windsor Presbyterian’s congregation will then walk down to their new home at Great Victoria Street Presbyterian Church, near the city centre.

Rev Ivan Steen, the minister since 2012, said: “We are leaving Windsor because the stonework on this late 19th century building has deteriorated so much that we cannot afford to fix it. The building is being taken over by an art and drama group which, I believe, will have access to the required funding for a proper refurbishment.

“We regard this as an exciting opportunity to literally move on to a site nearer the city centre, and we are most grateful that the Great Victoria Street Church is giving us such a warm welcome.

“Our closing service this Sunday will include a number of special guests including several of our former ministers, and the Presbyterian Moderator, the Right Reverend Dr Bruce.

"It will certainly be a landmark occasion, and for some people an emotional occasion as well.”

Over the years Windsor church, on the corner of the Lisburn Road and Derryvolgie Avenue, amalgamated with others in the South Belfast Presbytery. In 1993 it merged with the former Broadway Presbyterian Church on the Falls Road, which is now an Irish Language Centre. Recently the Windsor members shared an Irish language service of worship at the centre.

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Then in 2010, Windsor amalgamated with Ulsterville Presbyterian Church on the Lisburn Road. Cecil Graham, a longtime Presbyterian and elder at Windsor said: “In 2011 in response to the increasing number of immigrants coming to Belfast, the South Belfast Presbytery in partnership with the Council for Mission in Ireland established the International Meeting Point project on the Lisburn Road.

“Partnership with the IMP has been instrumental in reviving the Windsor congregation, and many of its members attend our Sunday services.”

In its heyday, Windsor was one of the most fashionable and influential Presbyterian churches in Ireland. Two of its ministers became moderators Rev John Irwin in 1917 and Rev William Corkey in 1933. The Corkey family in particular made a significant contribution to the wider work of the Church, including the establishment of Adelaide House and other care homes.

Windsor church has also made an important contribution to the Mission Outreach of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and particularly in China and India. During the Second World War, Windsor missionaries were imprisonment by the Japanese.

It has had eight ministers in its history, including Rev Steen.

The church is on the list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest. It was designed in 1887 by the architects Young and MacKenzie who also designed the Robinson and Cleaver building opposite Belfast City Hall.

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