NEWMARKET CHURCH CELEBRATES A NEW STATUS
3rd July 2017
Seventh-day Adventist members from County Limerick and County Clare celebrated the official organisation of their company of worshippers as a church on Sabbath, 24 June. This change of status, from being a company to becoming a recognised Church has been hailed as a milestone in the remarkable history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the West of Ireland.
The history of the Newmarket church was recounted during a service with the theme, "The Blessing of the Newmarket Church." The story unfolded, from its humble beginnings in a one-roomed flat, then on to a dark rented hall, rented hotel rooms and finally to the present spacious Kilnasoolagh site.
Long-standing member Sinead Galvin brought the present members and visitors down memory lane with her historical account of the humble beginnings of the church. She told of the many pastors who dedicated their ministry to develop the church and the conversion of those first members. She made special mention of the late Eithne McNamara Amos who distributed literature, visited all in the locality, and gave Bible studies to those longing to know the truth. Eithne's sister-in-law, Monica who was present at the ceremony said, "It was Eithne's influence that began the church group in Newmarket."
Another original member of the church, Angela O'Brien, gave her own personal story of joining a Convent in her quest to become a nun and subsequently leaving again - disillusioned. Angela then found Jesus on the street right outside her own home where she encountered Eithne, who could answer the spiritual questions Angela had been asking since childhood. "She spent time with me and many Bible studies later I became the first in my family to join the SDA Church," Angela reflected.
Special mention was made of Pastor Don Vollmer, who now lives in California. He was the first pastor to lead the group when it began to meet in 1982. He is fondly remembered for his grace and patience in bringing, a then unruly group, to know Christ. Pastor Vollmer was based in Galway, but travelled down to Newmarket almost every second week. He pastored the group until 1991 when he returned to California. He is presently involved with ASI. He also became a member of the celebrated Wedge Wood Trio singing group.
Local Pastor, Tony O'Rourke welcomed members from the west of Ireland churches and Dublin. He related the respect the local community has for the congregation and the positive influence it has locally, particularly for the many Health Expos and Vegetarian Cookery classes run by the church over the years.
The Emerald Health and Education Foundation, California, financed the church school which ran for several years. The present seven-acre property, located on the outskirts of the village of Newmarket on Fergus, Co. Clare was also purchased by the Emerald Foundation in 1987. They further financed projects developing not just the Church building, but the camp site, mission house and Pathfinders barn which stand on the campus today. "Without the support of Emerald we would not be sitting in this beautiful building today," said Pastor Tony. He also acknowledged other financial donors who wish to remain anonymous, the British Union Conference, the Frontier Missionaries, the input of Pastor Jeff Freeman and volunteers who have transformed the original stand-alone cattle shed into the many buildings on the campus today.
The formal upgrading in status from company to church was performed by pastor Paul Lockham who is the Associate Executive Secretary of the British Union Conference. He was joined by pastor Dan Serb, president of the Irish Mission of Seventh-day Adventists. They jointly blessed the church, encouraged and challenged the members to continue the work begun by the early fledgling group.
Special music items were sung by the Newmarket Church choir. Afterwards a beautiful lunch was served by the ladies who remarked, "We all pulled together and what an amazing outcome! To God be the Glory! What a historical day in the life of the Newmarket Church."