Vision is a wonderful thing. It was Thomas Edison’s vision that brought us the light bulb, a common feature of most homes in the western world today. Andrew Carnegie was another visionary who pioneered the introduction of free libraries; his dream was that everyone would have access to knowledge. These are only two out of millions who had a vision for new thinking and new beginnings. It was the same driving passion and vision which in 1935 propelled the Rev. John Glass to pursue his God given dream of a Methodist Community, in what was then the little village of Glengormley.
It had come to the Rev. Glass’s attention that a nucleus of 10 Methodist families had moved into the area from Duncairn, Hydepark and Lynn Memorial Methodist churches. Naturally the little group wanted to worship as they had in the past, but as there was no church they decided to meet regularly in one of the member’s homes. This continued for a while, until an opportunity arose enabling the group to secure a recreation hut situated at the end of Church Road within Glengormley village. The hut was more spacious, but not very comfortable with its stone floor and low backless seating! Nonetheless it served a purpose and in a way seemed to point at ‘official’ sanction for Methodism in Glengormley. There were still many struggles ahead, but undeterred the Rev Glass continued to support and encourage, believing unreservedly that given time, a permanent Methodist centre would stand alongside other denominations within the expanding community.
Steadily the idea gathered momentum, enabling the Rev. J Glass (Superintendent of the Ligoniel and Hydepark Circuit) to gain support from various ministers and lay folk in the district, who were only too pleased to assist this small Methodist community in securing its own church building. These were ’heady’ days which brought much encouragement, however there were still so many obstacles it was difficult for members to see any way ahead. But to the delight of the Rev. Glass, the Leaders and members of Ligoniel circuit responded very quickly offering not only finance but ‘on the ground’ support, which in turn brought positive support from the Duncairn and Larne churches.
One of the first memorable gestures was when Duncairn Methodist Church promised to pay the required ground rent for a period of 5 years. Alongside this very generous gift a Notice Board was provided by Professor Bradbury and a Mr. Whiteside, both members of Duncairn. At the same time the Larne congregation, under the leadership of the Rev. W.T. Dennison presented the church with a brand new organ. Obviously the church could not support the services of a Minister, although once the problem became known the Ligoniel and Hydepart circuit promised to provide the services of a lay preacher, namely Mr Henry Harte (later Rev. Henry Harte). Thus, with everything now in place, the £1,600 dual purpose building in Glencairn Drive was under way, proving to be not only ‘a step in faith’ but, for such a small congregation an extremely heavy financial burden. However in a defining moment for the church , on 2nd November 1935 Glengormley Methodist Church was opened by Sir Samuel Kelly, who promised that for every £1 collected he would match it. This generous gesture resulted in a grand total of £210.00 being raised towards the building fund – an absolute fortune in those days. Methodism was now firmly established in Glengormley, and although the new church was small by today’s standards, it was adequate for a fledgling congregation.
In 1936 the Rev. Moore Lipsett was appointed, serving under the superintendency of the Rev. Ernest Shaw with the church coming under the supervision of Ligoniel and Hydepark Circuit. However, in 1938 when the Rev. John Stutt accepted responsibility for the Superintendence of the church, it was still in its infancy and although numbers were improving there were still ‘teething’ problems. At this time the new Superintendent was to prove not only a dedicated overseer of the church, but a very faithful friend who stood along with the leadership until the way ahead became more defined. Through his wise counsel and supervision, difficulties were overcome and many problems solved. At this time the church was moved to the jurisdiction of North Belfast Mission Circuit which endeavoured to provide basic facilities for the families. As the church expanded new needs emerged. These were brought to the attention of the North Belfast Mission Circuit and the Methodist Church in Ireland which in turn offered guidance and the necessary finance to assist a growing congregation. The securing of these wonderful church premises was indeed an answer to fervent prayer, but was only the beginning of an amazing vision for the church, which is perhaps best summed up in the words of Habakuk Ch 2:3:
“Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled."