Over a hundred years of God’s faithfulness!
The late Pastor Shields from the Milltown Church was an outstanding evangelist and during his pastorate at Milltown he conducted several tent missions, one of the most successful being at Carr at the farm of the Maxwell family. The family were members of the Milltown church and walked there every Sunday – a distance of 10 miles!
At the beginning of the century the family felt exercised to begin a Baptist witness at Carr and extracts from the Milltown minutes book records that on the 31st December 1904 “the opening of the New Hall at the Carr took place”. The hall was erected at a cost of £60. Pastor Shields continued to overview the work at Carr from 1904 to 1933.
Pastor R. W. Graham took up the role of a Pastor at Milltown and Carr.
“My own earliest childhood recollections would include Pastor Graham preaching at Carr every 4th Sunday in each month and visiting our home, when during his visit he would kneel down by a chair read the Word of God and pray for all his family members. To carry out his visitation around the Carr District, Pastor Graham would catch a bus from his home in Kerrland Crescent on the Newtownards Road, and after a second connection arrive at Jamison Bros garage at Carryduff, where the late David Jamison would drive him to Carr Hall. There he borrowed a bike to visit the homes of the district: Is it any wonder God has honoured the witness of Carr Hall with faithfulness like that of Pastor Graham & the Jamison Brothers?” (Robin McCluskey).
Many successful missions were conducted during those early years and eternity alone will reveal the lasting work accompanied in those days.
A pivotal point came at the Carr in 1950 when Mr. Bill Scott (again from Milltown) conducted a mission. Many souls were saved, including some of our current members who have not only proved to be faithful, but have had tremendous influence on the work and witness at Carr over the years. One of the young converts Mr. George Davis was asked by the organist to take over her organ playing duties and George became the organist at Carr for over 52 years of faithful service until his retirement.
Pastor Graham retired and in 1962 Pastor Currie Brennan was inducted to the pastorate of both Milltown and Carr and in 1968 the late Eddie McCluskey came to live in Carryduff and after a short period took over the leadership of the outstation at Carr, but still the work remained part of Milltown. However change was soon to come…
A fresh challenge came to the little outstation of Milltown in 1972 when the Milltown church suddenly found itself on the edge of a large development area in south Belfast with the construction of the Belvoir Housing Estate. A new young pastor had come – Pastor Derek Baxter – and the oversight of Milltown felt the church and Pastor had to focus their efforts in the new challenges presented to them. They therefore requested a meeting with those Milltown members who worshipped at Carr to suggest that they would consider the formation of a fully-fledged Baptist Church at Carr.
The work continued steadily until 1977 when the land on which the current church is erected was purchased from a neighbouring farmer and the AGM in February records the unanimous decision to erect the original church building. The building was completed and opened to Gods’ glory on Saturday 22nd April 1978.
Some memorable missions were held in the 1970’s and 1980’s when many precious souls were reached and saved, baptised and joined in membership.
Philip De Courcy, a student of the Baptist College, preached many times between 1987/88 and a bond had been struck which resulted in him, after his graduation, taking up the pastorate in August 1988. A fruitful ministry ensued, when the church was built up and strengthened for the next 6 years, before leaving for studies and pastoral duties of a church in California. A further two years elapsed before Pastor Huston was called to the pastorate in September 1996, and again the pastorate became vacant in 1998.
The AGM in February records a request from a church member regarding the prospects for re-establishing a full time pastoral ministry at Carr in the near future. The office bearers were already exercised in this matter but had prayed that some indication would be forth coming from the AGM regarding a full-time pastor. It therefore encouraged the office bearers to see the single purpose of mind of the members that evening with only one person for consideration, namely Mr. Richard Garnham, who was in full-time service at Every Home Crusade. Pastor Garnham was inducted to the pastorate on 31st August 1999 and in the follow months we watched as the fellowship grew and construction work was undertaken to build a new church. This was opened by Mr Thomas McCormick on 25th March 2000, as we gathered together to give thanks and glory to God.
April 2008 found the church at Carr facing once again a Pastoral vacancy and the then church Elders – namely Mr. Victor Scott, Mr. Bobby Graham and Mr. Robin McCluskey met from April to June of that year to pray and to consider the way ahead. During this time of reflection and consideration it was evident that not only was there a need for a new pastor, but a vision for a pastoral team was forming – in that a Senior/Mature Pastor should be sought to oversee the immediate pastoral needs of the church at Carr and for building and establishing the Lord’s Work and His Gospel in the local community. Then in due time an Associate Pastor would be added to strengthen the team and to compliment and expand the work, learning under the careful eye of a Senior Pastor and God willing in time to take over as Senior Pastor in coming years ahead.
In September 2008 Pastor Clifford Morrison was approached by the Elders to consider prayerfully the role of Senior Pastor and to join in their vision and the church members for the days ahead. It was with much joy and a profound sense of God’s leading that he accepted this call in January 2009, taking up the position of Senior Pastor in April 2009.
Meanwhile, in 2008, Pastor Andrew recalls the beginnings of the “promptings” of the call of God upon his life to enter into full-time service. Since beginning to attend Dromore Baptist Church in 2004, he had been given opportunities to speak at various meetings. Although unclear in what final capacity as to Pastoral ministry, Church Planting & Evangelism or missionary outreach, he began to prayerfully consider attending Bible College to study and to prepare for ministry.
From April 2009 the building and establishing of the Lord’s work at Carr and within the local community has progressed steadily under the hand of God and with the prayers and faithfulness of God’s people. In April 2010 additional land was purchased which allowed the New Church Buildings Project to have a larger footprint and to accommodate a new hall and a much needed “meet & greet” area.
May 2011 saw the visit of Pastor Mark Patterson to Dromore Baptist Church – home church of Andrew and Deborah. The sermon preached that Sunday morning was to hold the confirmation that both Andrew and Deborah had been waiting for over these past three years – that indeed this was the way – ‘walk ye in it’. So it was in God’s time and calling that Andrew commenced his studies at the Irish Baptist College in September 2011, on a three-year undergraduate course.
In May 2012, Pastor Clifford shared with the Office Bearers that an opportunity alongside the Baptist College existed to help with a placement of a 2nd year student, namely Andrew Campbell, from October 2012 to April 2013. This in turn was approved by the church membership in June 2012 and Pastor Andrew subsequently preached his first Sermon in Carr Baptist Church on Sunday 15th July 2012 as a visiting speaker. It must be marked that Andrew’s time at Carr on student placement was somewhat special, in that looking back a bond in Christ was being formed between himself, Pastor Clifford and the fellowship and membership of Carr Baptist Church.
Construction work began on the New Buildings Project in June 2013 and was completed in January 2014. One of the founding members, Mr. Billy McCluskey, officially opened the new buildings in February 2014 to the glory of God.
Pastor Andrew, now nearing the end of his third and final year at the Irish Baptist College, was invited along in May 2014 to preach in the new church complex. In June 2014 a members’ meeting was arranged, with the vision still very much in mind, to consider issuing a call to Pastor Andrew for the position of Associate Pastor. This would commence in September 2014 for a three year period, working alongside Pastor Clifford Morrison. Elder Mr. Robin McCluskey spoke to this meeting and outlined that after completing the building project the church was now in a strong position to fulfil this next step. Acknowledging the bond that Andrew and Pastor Clifford had formed during Andrew’s placement as a college student at Carr, and the gift of preaching and personal skills he displayed during this time and subsequent occasions, it was the unanimous decision of the Elders to bring Andrew’s name before the church members. Robin also highlighted Andrew and Deborah’s connection with the members during this time.
It was with a sense of joy and answer to prayer that on Sunday 20th July following the morning worship a letter of acceptance was read to the church membership received from Pastor Andrew Campbell on accepting the position as Associate Pastor to Carr Baptist Church. It was with great joy that on Friday 5th September 2014 his Induction Service was held.