THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Address and presentation to the Reverend Charles W Harding

From the News Letter, June 22, 1918

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 9:10 am
David McClay, (left) chairman of the Willowfield Parish Community Association with Comedian Roy Walker at the official opening of the Micah Centre, a new community facility at Willowfield Church, East Belfast in 2007. Picture: Brian Little/News Letter archives
David McClay, (left) chairman of the Willowfield Parish Community Association with Comedian Roy Walker at the official opening of the Micah Centre, a new community facility at Willowfield Church, East Belfast in 2007. Picture: Brian Little/News Letter archives

On this day in 1918 the News Letter reported that an address and presentation to the Reverend Charles W Harding of Willowfield Parish Church to mark his “Ministerial Jubilee”.

The address to the Reverend Harding read: “Dear Canon Harding - We, the members of Willowfield Parish Church and other friends, cannot let the year of your Ministerial Jubilee pass without wishing you our heartiest congratulations, praying that you may be spared to continue your good and faithful work among us.

“From your first entrance on your high calling here, and from what we have heard of your work in other parishes which have had the great advantage of your truly evangelical teaching and preaching, it has been the one object of your life to uphold the dignity of your sacred calling, and with unvarnished language preach Christ crucified perishing souls.”

The address continued: “Your sermons have ever shown a great personality all your own, which has stamped your work with the highest religious ideas of fervour and earnestness in the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom.

“Always alive to the growing needs of the parish, you in turn enlarged the church, and built the Ballarat Street and Dromore Street Halls, where regular services are provided for the people living the immediate neighbourhoods.

“Owing to your energy, enthusiasm, and foresight, you undertook the burden of raising the necessary funds to bring the parish under the diocesan scheme, where all future incumbents will be provided with a guaranteed income, and at the same time introducing the system of parochial nominators in place of trustees.

“We must not forget your anxiety for the young of your flock in providing such splendid means for their educational advancement in the well-equipped schools under your management. Your first effort was to improve the old parochial school, and when it was crowded out you decided on erecting the new school, which a monument of your persevering efforts the cause which is so dear to your heart.

“Your congregation in Willow field, and your numerous friends in the other parishes, would ask your acceptance of this wallet of notes as a little token their deep appreciation of your devoted life-work for your Heavenly Master, Whom you so faithfully serve.”

The address concluded: “Praying that God, even our own God, may abundantly bless you in every way. We are, on behalf of the subscribers, yours faithfully.”

The names W Beveridge, Clerk (chairman), J Spinks, Rector’s Churchwarden and Treasurer, B Dunlop, People’s Churchwarden, D F Moore, W W Nelson, Secretaries of the Presentation Committee were added at the end of the address.

The following reply, written at the Willowfield Parsonage, Belfast, on June 21, 1918 from the Reverend Harding was also published by the News Letter: “My dear parishioners and other friends in Willowfield in Belfast and other parishes where I have ministered. I feel deeply touched by your too flattering address and generous gift. No one is more conscious than I am of how imperfectly I have done the Lord’s work in those different parishes. I only wish I could live my ministerial life over again, I would be more earnest and more devoted, especially in pressing home the need of personal individual dealing with a personal, living, loving Saviour, Redeemer, and Friend. I pray that my Heavenly Father will forgive the many imperfections the past fifty years.”

The reply was signed off as such: “I am, your affectionate friend, Charles W Harding.”