The Formation of the New Congregation of Fortwilliam & Macrory
The years of the Troubles took their toll on Presbyterian congregations in North Belfast. Many Protestants, Presbyterians among them, moved out of the locality leaving behind some congregations which fiercely resisted giving in to shrinking numbers. The dedication and commitment of leadership and members throughout those years should not be underestimated. However, the changes that had been afoot for many years finally brought things to a head in the congregations of Fortwilliam Park and Macrory Memorial and the courageous leadership at Macrory Memorial memorialized the General Assembly for permission to amalgamate with Fortwilliam Park. The leadership at Fortwilliam Park, equally courageous, were in agreement to the terms of the terms of amalgamation that had been worked out in conjunction with the Presbytery of North Belfast and the Union Commission. The terms of amalgamation were recorded for the newly formed congregation thus:
Terms of the Amalgamation
- The Macrory Memorial church building on Duncairn Gardens to be sold as soon as possible, proceeds going to the newly amalgamated congregation.
- The Macrory Memorial church halls, known as the Patterson halls, to be retained and this decision reviewed in two years. This is largely to make provision for the work of the Youth Club, which has 50 young people attending on a Saturday evening, the Boy’s Brigade and a community Bowling Club. It also presents the new congregation with a challenge in terms of deciding if and how to develop the site for effective mission.
- The formal date of the amalgamation to be October 10th with the first service of the new congregation on October 16th. The name of the new congregation to be – Fortwilliam Park and Macrory Memorial Presbyterian Church. This name can be changed by the congregation and the matter is already under consideration by the Kirk Session.
The following year, at the 2006 General Assembly, the name of the congregation was changed to Fortwilliam & Macrory and in due course the Kirk Session considered the value of the premises on Duncairn Gardens and have held on to them as a significant place of outreach in the locality. The premises there have helped to focus the whole congregation across both its sites to focus clearly on reconciliation as one aspect of its mission. The other aspect is blessing and together blessing and reconciliation help define what the congregation decides to do and be locally.
Since amalgamation the congregation have consolidated into one family and community of faith. The focus continues to be on community - with in the congregation and in the locality. As you will see from other places on our website there is work going on in lots of different ways and all of the work arises out of the dynamic life of old friends and new who are worshipping and witnessing together at Fortwilliam & Macrory.