The name on the wall says ‘Ballyhenry Presbyterian Church’ – but what does that really mean? It’s a good and important question.

First and foremost Ballyhenry is a Christian Church. At the very heart of Christian identity is news about Jesus Christ. Here’s how one New Testament book puts it:

‘… what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared …’ (1 Corinthians 15 verse 5)

There are many different churches throughout Newtownabbey who believe these things about Jesus Christ described in the Bible as being ‘of first importance’. Historic Christian creeds such as The Lord’s Prayer and The Apostles Creed place us within a long tradition of Christianity that stretches back to Bible times. It is not our purpose to grow at the expense of, or compete against, other Christian churches.

Ballyhenry is also a Presbyterian Church. The Presbyterian Church in Ireland (of which we are part) has its roots in a period of history known as The Reformation. The Reformation (which began in the 16th century) was a time of great change and upheaval in the Christian Church when a group of people (known as The Reformers) argued passionately that the Bible should be at the centre of the Church’s life, and that the Church’s leaders, traditions and beliefs should all be subject to the Bible.

An historic document from this time (known as The Westminster Confession of Faith) remains the key document at the heart of Presbyterian belief and practice. Written in the language of its day The Westminster Confession provides an anchor for Presbyterian churches rooting us in our commitment to the Bible.

Today the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has over 500 congregations across the island, stretching from Cork to Coleraine, and from Limerick to Lisburn. Being part of a larger network of churches allows us to be part of all kinds of things that we couldn’t do on our own. For more info on the Presbyterian Church in Ireland click here.

Last (but not least) it is also hugely important to us that we are a Twenty First Century Church.

Around the world the Christian Church is growing, and it is growing fastest in what is sometimes referred to as ‘the non-western world.’ One hundred years ago the majority of Christians lived in Europe but today the majority of Christians live in places like South America, Africa and Asia. Being a Christian at the beginning of the twenty first century is about being part of a growing, multi-cultural, global family.

In October 2010 over 4000 evangelical Christian leaders from 198 countries around the world met in Cape Town, South Africa, to call the Church around the world to a renewed commitment to living for Jesus Christ in a new millennium. The outcome of this highly significant event was a document entitled The Cape Town Commitment. Whilst The Cape Town Commitment has no official standing within the Presbyterian Church in Ireland it nonetheless provides an extremely helpful, up to date (and in depth) picture of what it means for churches and individuals to live for Jesus in the modern world.

Read a summary of the Cape Town Commitment