The city of Londonderry (colloquially known as Derry) is built on the banks of the River Foyle in the North West of Ireland. Derry is a walled city, famous for its historic Siege of Derry in 1688-1689 and our Church lies within a few hundred metres of these famous walls in the City Centre. (Click for Map). Geographically we are just a few miles from the border with the County of Donegal in the Republic of Ireland.
Our Congregation had its origin in a body of people who met in a hall (former Theatre) in Fountain Street and who were received by the United Secession Synod in 1837 and supplied with preaching. The Rev Thomas Thompson of Kilraughts began the work, and on his recommendation others from the Presbytery of Coleraine followed. On 26th June 1838 the Synod ordained Rev John McFarland (1838-42) to the pastoral charge of the newly formed Second Presbyterian Secession Congregation in the City, and the Congregation, numbering 27 families, met in London Street in what was formerly a theatre but is now the Synod Hall and the Diocesan headquarters of the Church of Ireland. In 1840 the Synod of Ulster and the Secession Synod united to form the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and when the new Presbyteries were constituted in August 1841, our Church became known as 4th Derry under the care of the Presbytery of Derry.
Financial help was received from the Honourable the Irish Society toward the building of a new meeting house and the present church building, erected to the Glory of God, was opened on 23 March 1879. Built by Colhoun Bros to the design of Belfast architects Young and Mackenzie the church has a neo-Gothic perpendicular style façade in whinstone and sandstone. A broad flight of steps takes one from the street to a porch and then into an almost theatrical interior. The theatrical impression is made by the three-sided balcony and by a feeling that the building narrows towards the central focus of the pulpit. The driving force of the congregation in the nineteenth century was Rev Robert Ross and during his Ministry (1850-94) the Church was built and the Halls were added about 10 years later, together costing upwards of £10,000. The Halls were constructed primarily as a Church School and were in use by the education authorities until 1995.
By 1965 we had a thriving congregation of about 400 families and it was possible for the then Minister Rev. R. C. Graham (1965-97) to do nearly all of his pastoral work by walking around the parish, for most of the people lived around the church. By 1994 the congregation was reduced to 280 families and the Sunday School had been reduced from 240 to 80 children. Only 50 families (mainly elderly) remained on the city side the rest having moved across the river to the Waterside during the troubled 70's and 80's. The reduction in the size of the congregation is paralleled in what happened to the overall Protestant population on the city side of the river, which fell from 18,000 in 1968 to 2,800 in 1994. The Church fabric and roof were extensively renovated during the 1960's and in the 1970's the stained glass windows and organ were damaged in a bomb blast. In 1993 the interior was completely renovated with the Halls being completely re-furbished in 1998 providing the present Congregation, of approximately 190 families with 30 children in the Sunday School, with modern amenities and facilities for the weekly activities.
In 1989 the Congregations of Carlisle Road and Crossroads (Founded 1783) became a Union. The Minister has responsibility for both one in the Northern Ireland and one in the Republic of Ireland. Crossroads, Co Donegal is 6 miles from Londonderry and had been a Stated Supply of Carlisle Road since 1974. Each Congregation retains its own identity and independence but there is a high degree of co-operation and sharing in the work and worship of the Congregations.
Due to declining numbers and escalating costs for upkeep of their buildings it was decided by Presbytery that 2nd Derry (Strand) and Buncrana should Amalgamate with Carlisle Road. On Sunday 10th October 2010 the closing service was held in Strand in the afternoon and later that evening the first service of the new Congregation of Carlisle Road (Incorporating Strand & Buncrana) was held. The Moderator of the General Assembly, Rt Rev Dr Norman Hamilton, was present at both services.
by David Burke with acknowledgement to The Rev. John Dunlop in his book
"A precarious Belonging: Presbyterians and the Conflict in