REPORT OF SESSION.
DURING the past year the work of this Congregation has gone on in its usual regular and quiet way.
The Services of the Sanctuary, especially on Sabbath forenoons, have been well attended; the attendance at Evening Service and at the Prayer Meetings has been much the same as usual; and the Sabbath Schools and Bible Classes have been large and prosperous.
From 1st November, 1888, to 1st November, 1889, there have been twenty deaths in the Congregation. Ten of these were children, while two were above eighty years of age. Mr. H. H. BOYD, one of our Elders, died on 2nd May, at the great age of eighty-six. He was a man greatly respected and beloved, a consistent Christian, an earnest worker, and a generous contributor to every good object. He had a long illness, but he was sustained by a strong and childlike faith in the Saviour, which was never for one moment darkened by any doubt or fear.
During the year the Lord's Supper was, as usual, celebrated four times, the September Communion being delayed a week on account of the painting of the Church. The number on the roll at the last revision (May, 1889), was 543, and the attendance each time was as follows; November, 1888, 383; February, 1889, 390; May, 1889, 370; September, 1889, 316 ;-- an average of 365. 32 were admitted by certificate during the year, and 32 by examination, or 64 in all; 9 Communicants were removed by death, and 22 received certificates to other Churches, our total loss being thus 31. In addition to these there are always a few who leave the Church without notice, and without asking for a certificate. There were 21 Baptisms and 6 Marriages during the year.
On the 7th May, 1889, the Presbytery of Belfast held a visitation of the Congregation. Eleven years had passed since the last visitation was held. After a careful examination into all Congregational matters, the following finding was come to :-- "The Presbytery have heard with pleasure the testimony borne to the fidelity and efficiency with which Mr. Park discharges the varied duties of the ministry, and to the satisfactory manner in which he is sustained by the eldership and membership of the congregation. They congratulate the minister on his large, flourishing, well-conducted Bible Classes, and on the attention paid to the secular and religious education of the young, and to the wants of the poor; on the admirable arrangements which exist in the congregation; on the very satisfactory state of their finances; and on the progress of religion, as manifested more especially in the large accessions to the membership of the church, in the various departments of Christian work, and in the generous contributions given to the missions of the Assembly. They recognise the historic testimony borne to the truth in the pulpit of Rosemary Street, and they rejoice to find that that testimony has lost none of the clearness, fulness, and power in the ministry of Mr. Park. The Presbytery thank God for the prosperity of the congregation and they pray that abundant blessing may rest on Mr. Park and his charge in all the various departments of Christian work in which they are so actively and successfully engaged, and they appoint Mr. Maconaghie to exchange with Mr. Park and read this finding to the congregation." At the close of the meeting the Presbytery was entertained at dinner in our Lecture Hall. After dinner, Mr. JOSIAS CUNNINGHAM in appropriate terms expressed the pleasure we, as a Congregation, had in welcoming our guests, and his address was responded to by the Moderator of Assembly (Mr. LYND), the Moderator of Presbytery (Dr. A. C. MURPHY), and Rev. Dr. JOHNSTON. The Secretary of Committee had prepared for the Presbytery a list of all the Trusts connected with the Congregation; and this list is so valuable and so complete that it is thought well to print it in the present Congregational Report. It will be found on p. 22.
The numbers attending the various Sabbath Schools have been as follows:-
Morning, about 176 connected; 135 average attendance (with 21 Teachers).
Evening, about 143 connected; 98 average attendance (with 13 Teachers).
CURRIE S.S. (LILLIPUT)--
Morning, about 120 connected; 98 average attendance (with 10 Teachers).
Evening, about 261 connected; 197 average attendance (with 21 Teachers).
OLD LODGE ROAD--
Morning, about 65 connected; 50 average attendance (with 5 Teachers).
Evening, about 230 connected; 180 average attendance (with 16 Teachers).
Thus there are about 800 Children receiving careful instruction in religious truth in our various Sabbath Schools. Bands of Hope and other Sabbath School organizations are also actively at work.
Our Daily Schools are holding their ground well, as the following numbers will show:--
CURRIE MALE NATIONAL SCHOOL --
96 on roll; 73 average attendance; large percentage passed at Results Examination.
CURRIE FEMALE NATIONAL SCHOOL --
156 on roll; 105.9 average attendance; 94.5 percentage passed at Results Examination.
CURRIE INFANT NATIONAL SCHOOL --
254 on roll; 158.6 average attendance; 94.9 percentage passed at Results Examination.
There are thus 500 Children receiving instruction in our Daily Schools.
During last Session several public and private meetings of the Young Men's Guild were held, and many interesting Papers read. One of these -- "The Town we live in, and how it grew," by Mr. SINCLARE RAMSEY, has since, at the request of the Guild, been published, -- together with a Paper on the same subject, read by Mr. RAMSEY last Session -- and forms a very readable and interesting history of Belfast, in very small space. The Musical Association had a Concert in the Assembly Hall, at the close of a fairly successful Session. In connection with the Temperance Association and Band of Hope four Public Meetings were held, and at two of them Lectures were delivered by Revs. W. WRIGHT, Newtownards, and W. J. JACKSON, Duncairn. The Young People's Missionary Association has entered upon its work with great vigour; it has already about 100 members, and has held two successful meetings. A Tea Meeting was held in the Church Rooms, on 29th January, to which the families in our district visited by our Bible Women and Lady Visitors were invited; about 60 were present, and a pleasant and profitable evening was spent. The Ladies held their usual Sewing Meeting on behalf of the Zenana Mission last season as usual, and on 15th April they had a sale of work in the Lecture Hall, which was well attended. Mr. HASKIS, our Missionary, pursues his useful work in the Old Lodge Road district as earnestly and unobtrusively as ever, and Miss TINSLEY, our Bible-woman, who works in the district prescribed to us by the Presbytery, continues to give satisfaction to the Session, and to the Ladies who superintend and help her in her work. The Minister's Bible Classes, on Thursdays and Sabbaths, are as large as usual. It would be impossible to mention in detail the work of all the organizations in connexion with the Congregation, but all of them seem to be in a very healthy state. At the time when this Report is written, our various Societies are busy at work for another Session; but as we are now publishing a quarterly journal as part of the Missionary Herald, containing full information as to our Congregational proceedings, it is unnecessary to refer further to them here.
The Annual Meeting of the Congregation took the form of a Social Meeting last year. It was held in the Assembly Hall, on 17th January. There was a large gathering. Rev. Mr. MacFARLAND and Mr. LEATHEM read the Annual Reports, and they were spoken to by Rev. Dr. LEITCH, and by Messrs. CLARKE, CUNNINGHAM, HANNA, and JENKINS. The Meeting was a very pleasant one.
In last Report it was mentioned that a Christian Workers' Union was being formed in our Congregation, to embrace Sabbath School Teachers, Visitors of the poor and the sick, and all other Christian workers. The Cards of Membership were issued in January. On 19th March a Meeting of the Association was held. After tea, Papers were read, or Addresses given by ladies and gentlemen, on several most important subjects, such as "Soul Winning," "How to conduct a Cottage Meeting," and "How to make District Visiting Effective." Afterwards there was an interesting Conference on these and other subjects. This Association has a distinct sphere of its own, and should do useful work.
Just as the year was closing, a Week of Special Services was held in our Church Rooms, conducted by Rev. Dr. STUART, Derry. They began on 28th October. They were on the whole well attended. Dr. STUART'S addresses were very searching and solemn, and were listened to with deep attention.
There is much encouragement in the story of the past year. God has been helping us in many ways, for which we bless His name. We ask all our people to join with us in prayer to God that the year now begun may be one of special spiritual blessing, first to the Members of our own Congregation, and then through them to others. As the iron gates opened before Peter of their own accord when God's angel led him out to freedom, so we believe all difficulties would give way before us if we gave ourselves up to the influence and guidance of God's Holy Spirit, and we would find an entrance and a welcome for the truth in hearts which seemed securely closed against it. We would then be a Missionary Congregation in the true sense of the word, and no Congregation which is not a Missionary one can enjoy real prosperity. May God thus bless us and make us a blessing!