Rev Joseph Andrews retires from Ballee Presbyterian Church in Ballymena

Rev Joseph Andrews retires from Ballee Presbyterian Church, Ballymena after occupying the pulpit there for 35 years. He preached his final sermon there on Sunday night, 13th February 2022.

Joseph arrived at the Old Antrim Road congregation on 16th January 1987 having previously served at Loughgall & Tartaraghan Presbyterian Churches in County Armagh.
However, longtime churchgoers will remember that Joseph served his Assistantship under Rev David Alderdice at the old Wellington Street Church from 1981-84.

Remembering his time in the town centre fondly, Joseph said: “I learned a lot from very Godly elders and from my boss, Rev David Alderdice. I told David as I was leaving that my only regret was that I had not been about to spend more time with him as he went about his pastoral work. I learned much about Practical Theology from David.

“As I arrived at Wellington Street an unmarried Student Assistant, I very much appreciated the warn and generous hospitality of David’s wife, Helena,” smiles Joseph.

1984 saw Joseph, his wife, Susan and their son, John head to his first charge in County Armagh.
Their time there was productive; the couple oversaw the foundation of a Girls’ Brigade company in Tartaraghan and a Youth Fellowship in Loughgall.

The Lord called Joseph to Ballee church three years later. His installation took place on 16th January 1987 and God has blessed his ministry in many ways.

Rev Joseph Andrews retires from Ballee Presbyterian Church in Ballymena
Ballee Presbyterian Church

Recalling a few highlights, Joseph began by saying: “In December 1987 I was only there about ten or eleven months when we dedicated a new organ and a new pulpit. Two years later I was privileged to be asked to lay the foundation stone for our new Church Hall which we opened in 1990.

“Now, while all this was going on we decided that we should think about pews that were going to be placed in our existing building which was going to be used for worship. One evening, back in March 1989 I happened to mention this casually to my wife, Susan, during a conversation. She informed me that she had seen pews being offered for sale in the previous week’s Belfast Telegraph. Well, to cut a long story short, our Clerk of Session contacted the vendors and four of us went up to the synagogue in Belfast to see the pews. They were exactly what we needed. Unfortunately, they had just been sold that afternoon to a dealer. Four very dejected men returned to Ballymena, but our hopes were revived when we were informed that the deal had fallen through. The only snag was that we had to remove the pews at short notice.

“Subsequently, a team of our men went to Belfast very early in the morning but by late afternoon only half the pews had been removed. We realized that we were going to need twice as many men to come to Belfast if we were to get the rest of the pews removed by the deadline which was midnight that night. We reckoned that we might get them out by midnight but that it would be the very early hours of the next morning before we got them to Ballymena.

“We came to the realization just before teatime and I began to ring around men in our congregation and every single person that I spoke to agree to help. Just after teatime a convoy of cars left Ballymena and we had so much help that we got the last of the pews loaded onto the lorry well in advance of the deadline. When we arrived at the storage facility in Ballymena another team of men were there waiting to help with the unloading. Subsequently, ladies arrived with tea and sandwiches and that night I put the car into the garage at 11pm exactly.”

Numerous outreach events, missions and prayer initiatives have happened during Joseph’s years in Ballee. He is quick to pay tribute to members of Christ’s family there, who have risen to the occasion to extend the Kingdom.

Rev Joseph Andrews retires from Ballee Presbyterian Church in Ballymena
Mrs Betty Wilson, a senior member of Ballee Presbyterian Church makes a presentation to The Rev Joseph Andrews and his wife, Susan, to mark Joseph’s retirement after 35 years of ministry. Included is the Clerk of Session, Mr John Quigley, who paid tribute to Mr and Mrs Andrews on behalf of the congregation.

Joseph is also thankful to his wife, Susan, who served as PWA President for 15 years, coordinator of the Prayer Partnership Ministry and Bible Reading Notes organiser.
Their son, John was also Musical Director for five and a half years.

In truth, Joseph has served in so many roles over the years it is impossible to truly explain his contribution to the Presbytery of Ballymena and beyond. He has been Clerk of Presbytery for 25 years, having been Moderator from 1996-97, a Chaplain to the Mayor and a Moderator of the General Assembly, not to mention a School Governor/Chairman and Presbytery Missionary and Press Agent.

As his interview with The Church Page ended, Joseph told us:
“I feel sad that I am leaving a congregation of people among whom I have worked for 35 years. I am sad too that I am leaving behind the active ministry in which I have been involved for over forty years. I suppose my sentiments are summed up in part of the farewell letter to my people.
I wrote this: ‘As I take my leave of you, I want to finish by thanking you most sincerely for allowing me to be your minister and counsel you with a final sense of urgency to earnest receive the salvation which God has provided through His Grace alone in Faith alone in Christ alone.”

The team at The Church Page wish him God’s richest blessing as Rev Joseph Andrews retires from Ballee Presbyterian Church, Ballymena. Keep up-to-date with news, events and services at the Church on their Facebook page.