RPCI | Eastern Presbytery | Dromore (County Down, Northern Ireland)
- Organized: 1998 (Society); 2007 (Congregation)
- Elders: Rev. Philip Dunwoody, Mr Raymond Steen
- Interim Elders: Rev. Prof. Robert McCollum, Mr John Somerville
- Members: 42 Communicant, 31 Baptized
Covenanters have been associated with the town of Dromore as far back as the 1770s, when Rev. William Stavely preached occasionally in Dromore as part of a ministry extending over a wide area in north-east Ireland. The Covenanter “societies” (small groups) of Dromore were initially attached with the Rathfriland congregation, before being transferred from the Southern Presbytery of the Irish church to the Eastern Presbytery in 1898.
Dromore was then designated a preaching station of the nearby Dromara congregation. Dromara ministers preached at a monthly (and later bi-monthly) service in Dromore for the next 100 years. However, by the 1980s, numbers in Dromore were dwindling and the meeting house in Brewery Lane had fallen into disrepair.
Nonetheless, the Eastern Presbytery still had a vision to see a congregation established in Dromore, by now a growing commuter town. In 1991, Rev. Prof Robert McCollum, having organised a church plant in the nearby town of Lisburn, was appointed convener of a committee to develop the R. P. witness in Dromore. In 1995, Rev. Prof Frederick S. Leahy, a retired minister in the Presbytery, began preaching in Dromore at a monthly morning service, which was practically and prayerfully supported by members of the nearby Lisburn and Dromara congregations. In 1998, by God’s grace, a society of 15 members and five covenant children was organised by the Presbytery.
Rev. Leahy continued as stated supply in Dromore until the society called Rev. David McCullough, then minister of Faughan R.P. Church, as organizing pastor in 2003. Rev. McCullough accepted the call.
God graciously blessed the work in Dromore during David’s ministry. The society was organized as a congregation in 2007, with Rev. McCullough as their pastor. Two men were ordained and installed as elders in 2008, by which time the congregation comprised 42 communicant members, 22 covenant children, and approximately 20 other regular worshippers.
Progression & Transition
Numbers continued to increase into the early 2010s, with young families in particular settling in the commuter town and making the church their home. A healthy public witness was established, and church life developed further with the ordination of deacons and various regular ministries commencing for members and friends.
In 2017, Rev. McCullough accepted a call to become organising pastor of Woodstock Road RP Church in the city of Belfast, a church “re-plant”. Dromore continued without a preaching pastor until January 2021, when a call was accepted by Rev. Philip Dunwoody, then pastor of Dervock RP Church. Philip arrived in February 2021, along with his wife, Hannah, and their daughter, Sophia.
Worship, Fellowship & Outreach
At the time of writing, the Dromore interim Session, deacons and members are taking time to reassess church life and witness. Even the weekly Lord’s Day services are under constant review: due to COVID-19 social distancing measures, the church has been meeting for morning worship in Dromore High School, with evening services continuing in the smaller Brewery Lane meeting house.
Over the years, the church has sought to reach out to the community via door-to-door evangelism, football (“soccer” for you North Americans!) clubs in the summer, monthly lunches for senior citizens, and special services focusing on current issues of interest to the public.
Fellowship opportunities have been somewhat limited in 2020 and 2021, but ordinarily the church encourages hospitality both in members’ homes and after services in our buildings. With a new pastor commencing work in Dromore, pandemic restrictions easing, and a need for new elders to be elected, the congregation needs to prayerfully seek God’s guidance and grace for the future of our worship and witness.
- Pray that members of the congregation will prioritise corporate prayer in a time of transition and future planning.
- Pray that ruling elders and more deacons will be called into service in the congregation.
- Pray that unity will be maintained, that members will increasingly love one another and strengthen relationships via hospitality and fellowship beyond the Lord’s Day services.
- Give thanks for the large number of covenant children in Dromore; pray that God will bring each one to faith in Christ.
- Pray for the O’Brien family, members of Dromore who live nearly 200 miles away in the Republic of Ireland. Pray that God would open the door for more RP church plants in Ireland.
- Pray that the preaching of God’s Word would both build up believers and be used by God to bring men and women in our town to faith in Christ.
Special thanks to Rev. Philip Dunwoody for compiling this information for the RP family around the world.
Rev. Dunwoody grew up in the Limavady RP congregation in Northern Ireland. He pastored Dervock RPC until he was installed as pastor of Dromore RPC earlier this year. Philip is married to Hannah, and they have one daughter, Sophia. Philip has also been a member of the RP Global Alliance Advisory Committee since 2020.