Sunday was a joyous occasion for the close-knit congregation of St. Paul’s Parish Church in Gilford, as their age-old parish hall – a former school – was re-dedicated, having been completely refurbished following a magnificent fundraising effort.
Attending the momentous event were Bishop of Down and Dromore, Rt. Revd David McClay along with Vicar, Rev Denise Caddoo and a great turnout of parishioners and friends of the church community.
The occasion was all the more gratifying as some parishioners had not been able to attend worship at church since the outbreak of Covid.
The guests also included John McMaster, a Texan visitor whose family has strong connections with Gilford Mill and St. Paul’s Parish Church – his great-great-uncle was none other than 19th-century mill founder John Walsh McMaster, who lived at nearby Dunbarton House.
The mill workers’ children would have attended the schoolhouse back then, it was then purchased by the church for the sum of £300 in the early 1930’s
Church Treasurer, Clive Serplus commented: “The Church Hall has been an integral part of our Church and community in Gilford for many years, however it needed to be completely refurbished.
“A complete new roof was added, the interior redesigned reducing the ceiling height in the main hall.
“We also have a brand-new modern kitchen, disabled toilet facilities, a refurbished choir room with the old committee room converted into a quiet room and an office added.
“We now have disabled access to our hall which has been welcomed by all our parishioners”
“St. Paul’s is very much a church family, and the plan is to extend our outreach further within the community of Gilford and beyond making the hall available for use by all the community”
“The total cost was in the region of £230,000 and has been fully funded by the parish though donations and fundraising which will continue in the weeks and months ahead.” “We have also been very blessed to have parishioners who worked alongside our contractor Desy Mullen to complete electrical, plumbing and tiling.
On a side note, John McMaster took it upon himself to have 280 feet of old fence refurbished between the church and his ancestor’s home at Dunbarton House.
“Our family is proud of what the church community have accomplished in the renovation,” John commented.
“They are fine folks and I enjoy going to church with them when I am in Gilford.
“I am so proud of Rev Denise Caddoo and of what she has done for the church.
“It was an honour to meet the bishop as well.”
The Vicar Denise Caddoo commented “I am very proud of the achievement of our Select Vestry and Parishioners at St. Pauls. The Church Hall project has been ongoing for several years and through prayer and the guidance of God we have been able to exceed our expectations. We hope this facility will be used by the community of Gilford as we continue our Christian outreach in the area”
Following the re-dedication service, parishioners were able to enjoy refreshments in their magnificent new church hall.