The Sunday morning was chilly and dull - very much in keeping with the news, the check-points and the cracked paving stones on the footpath. An army patrol moved quietly along in open order and a group of children jogged up and into Sunday School.
The Church stood grey and solid - windows screened with strong mesh, the shattered ones of the old Lecture Hall completely boarded up. Older children going to Bible Class and Senior Sunday School hurried towards the gates. A few rays of weak, feeble, morning sunlight broke through and amidst the chatter of the children the Church seemed transformed. A new life appeared to spring from the main building and I could not but feel that in spite of all our troubles and worries over the past four years the Church is still alive - far from beaten and playing an important role.
The Strand Congregation remains loyal and has been outstanding over the past two and a half years for the help given to fellow Presbyterians in Congregations less fortunate. The Minister of our Church has looked after Ballyarnett Church for two years and has steered the Congregation through an amalgamation with Knowhead and finally to the installation of a new Minister for the combined Congregations.
As Stated Supply to the tiny congregation of Inch, Mr. Bolton preaches at 10 a.m. on the first and third Sundays of each month to some twenty-eight people, enabling these fine people to worship in their own ancient Church.
As well as helping out since January at Inch, Mr. Bolton has now taken responsibility during the vacancy for the United Congregations of Burt, Fahan and Buncrana. Services at 10 a.m. are taken by Mr. Bolton in Buncrana on the second and fourth Sundays of each month. By preaching at 10 a.m. our Minister can drive back to be in time for our own Service at 11.30 a. m. each Sunday.
The Strand Church is helping in no small way to keep alive the flame of Presbyterianism in our own area and in Donegal.
IMPRESSIONS OF A NEW MEMBER
"I was a stranger and you bade me welcome when I first entered the vestibule of Strand Church. You assured me with a smile that I wasn't intruding when I tentatively sat down in the first available pew. I was reminded of the basis of my faith when you carried the Word of God into the pulpit and remained standing in respect when it was removed at the close of the service. Your beautiful setting, with accomplished musical accompaniment to the praise led by a well-balanced, though small choir, and ably backed up by a participating congregation deeply impressed me.
Your announcements indicated that in spite of the location of your Church, in the midst of a riot torn City, the youth was being effectively trained to be responsible citizens by a willing band of voluntary workers.
You gave me hope for the future through the exhortations of your clergyman with the indomitable spirit, who assured me that 'Faith, if it hath not works, is dead.' It was emphasised that if our Christian Church is to survive it must look outwards with a missionary zeal well beyond its present range of vision. I noted certain signs that you were prepared to recognise that we must attempt by joining with others to rebuild a meaningful and caring society in Londonderry built on the Christian Principles conveyed so often by our industrious forefathers in the Presbyterian Church of the past,
I was a stranger and you took me in.
Thank you for the fellowship extended to a stranger in a strange land.
I hope that any small contribution I can offer in the service of God to my fellow man will help Strand Church to continue to be an effective and virile Christian Task Force in this Community."
Signed: Grateful Member
During the part year, we have lost the services of Mr. Andrew Logan, our former Caretaker, who has retired. We would thank Mr. Logan for the excellent way in which he carried out his duties during his many years here. We also welcome Mr. & Mrs. Majowska as our new caretakers, and are glad to see that they are carrying out their duties in the same exemplary manner.
Members will be glad to know that we have accepted a quotation for the painting of the entrance door of the Church, and the lecture hall doors, also the Manse. This work should have been started in November, but due to the unsettled weather we decided to wait until the Springtime.
I would like to thank the Leaders and Venture Scouts for the many jobs they do about the Church. The wire grills at the front of the new Church Hall were made and erected by the Scouts. This is just to mention one of the many savings the Church has made, thanks to the Scouts.
I am also pleased to report that Members of our Youth Organisations have volunteered to paint our Old Church Hall interior. The Committee very willingly agreed to provide the paint.
We are glad to see all our Youth Organisations making full use of our halls, and we would thank all the leaders, of each organisation, for their continued support.
I would also like to report that we have received donations of very nearly £200 for our "In Memoriam" account. This is money received in lieu of flowers in memory of loved ones. I think this is a wonderful scheme, and I can assure all members that all donations are acknowledged by myself or Mr. Jack Craig.
In closing I would like to thank those members of Committee who gave me their valued help and assistance during the year.
John Burnside, Secretary