Rev William Sinclair’s long and fruitful ministry at First Ballymena Presbyterian Church will come to an end when he retires on 30th April 2022.
William was installed at the Meetinghouse Lane fellowship on 8th September 2006, arriving from Strean Presbyterian in Newtownards with his wife, Alison and daughters, Laura and Jill, who were teenagers at that time.
Without doubt, William’s ministry in First Ballymena has been characterised with modernisation and development. He has, however, been respectful of the rich Christian heritage there, which was evident to him from his first day.
Looking back, William remembers: “There was a sense of history as I came through the doors; on the wall as you come in it says 1627 and you realise that this is a Church that has been here for a very long time. I felt a really strong sense of call to First Ballymena. As I look back on it now, I would say it started several years before I came. When the call eventually came, I sensed that if I said ‘no’ to this I was saying ‘no’ to God, so I took the step.”
The last sixteen years have been a period of unprecedented development in First Ballymena.
A newly built modern ‘Hub’ area has enabled the Meetinghouse and the Church Hall to become physically connected. This facility has also become an ideal space to welcome people, to hold informal midweek meetings or Alpha courses.
Regrettably, there have also been 330 deaths during William’s ministry over the sixteen year period.
William has also enjoyed being part of the thriving outreach programmes at First Ballymena.
He said: “It started with Spark and then we have Olive Hall who leads outreach work. She has made amazing inroads into this community and its needs. We are starting to see others come behind her now because we want to have a passion for Jesus and a compassion for people.
“I came to a congregation that had its fair share of hurts and division and my aim during my first five years was to bring everyone together and I think under God that happened.”
William went on to say: “I think just how He enabled my relationship with the congregation to grow. It is not just the Minister and congregation; I see it as one family. I wanted this Church to be my family and to be part of it. I think as well just to see how God has worked and when we took risks, God blessed them.”
The latter years of William’s ministry have been characterised by a spirit of rejuvenation. This has been most evident in the adaptation of Alpha as a key outreach tool, a course which has enabled the congregation to re-engage with young families in a powerful way.
William added: “We wanted to redress the generational balance between older people and young families. Alpha has helped with this. We also brought in Matthew Boyd whose brief is to ‘connect and consolidate’ – connect with those who are not here yet and to consolidate the faith of young adults and families and deepen it. The building work is also part of this rejuvenation and make us into a 21st century church.”
Looking ahead to his own future, William concluded by saying: “Someone said to me that retirement should be spelt RETYREMENT because it is like getting new tyres”, he smiles.
“For now, I am concentrating on finishing well. Until 30th April, God has called me to this place. I want to give it my all, so I have not really taken time to think about what happens next. In whatever way I can, I want to bring encouragement within the Church, and I want to see people come to faith. I don’t know what God has for me in that and I need prayer for that. In the first six months I plan to find the space and the time to be alone with God and see what He wants and how He is to lead me.”
Find out more about First Ballymena Presbyterian Church on their website.