ONE of the most historic churches in the North Antrim area closed its doors at the weekend in preparation for a six figure refurbishing programme.
St. Coleman’s in Dervock, which was constructed in 1831 on a site that may have been a pre-Chrisitan location because of the presence of locally ancient caves and evidence of primitive dwellings , is badly in need of major works to combat decay in the ancient stonework as well as the need to bring it up to modern day standards.
The work, which is due to commence soon, will cost in excess of three quarters of a million pounds and a concerted effort is being made to try and raise the necessary funds. Grant aid is also being examined in what is a milestone in the life of the congregation.
On Saturday, a sponsored bible read-in was conducted in the church by the Rector, Rev. John Anderson, and his assistant, Rev. Graham Nevin, and on Sunday night, an historic procession took place signifying the transfer of church items to the Allen and Adair Hall where services will be held until the renovation work is completed.
Support from the congregation has been encouraging for the Rector and Select Vestry and it is hoped that voluntary work will dovetail with professional support.
Rev. Nevin, who is also a geologist, told the Times on Saturday that there was evidence of much decay in the ancient basalt stonework and it was vital that the restoration should begin as soon as possible.
Regular church services will be held in the Allen and Adair hall and any special services such as weddings will be held in Billy Parish church.
In order to facilitate the work, some of the church furnishings will have to be removed. For example, the organ will be carefully dismantled for an overhaul and if anyone would like to purchase one of the Victorian pews, they can do so by speaking to the Rector.
He has appealed for help from the congregation during the transitional period but pledges that normal congregational life will continue.