Report and pictures by John Kelly
Ballinderry Parish Church Hall was packed to capacity on Saturday October 1 for a farewell reception to mark the retirement of the rector of 21 years, the Rev Canon Ernest Harris.
Canon Harris was instituted in Ballinderry Parish Church in March 1990, and was installed as Prebendary of Cairncastle on the Chapter of St Saviour Connor in Lisburn Cathedral in February 2006.
Dr Andrew Sands, a member of the parish vestry, chaired a most enjoyable programme of entertainment including music, sketches and a video presentation giving a snapshot of some of the highlights of the rector’s ministry. There was also a video message for Ernest and his wife Ray from their son John, who now lives in America with his wife Megan.
The Sunday School children began the programme singing ‘Our God is a great big God’ and the packed programme concluded as the choir sang a farewell hymn ‘May God’s blessing surround you each day.’
Canon Harris and his wife were presented with several gifts on behalf of the parishioners including a framed print of the Middle Church. Prior to the presentations, rector’s churchwarden John Tuft who chaired the proceedings, spoke appreciatively of the exemplary service given by Canon Harris, whom he described as a ‘faithful servant of God.’
Lay Reader Dr Fred Ruddell, Andrew Clarke (people’s churchwarden) and vestry members Edith Haddock (secretary), Dr Andrew Sands and Sandra Megarry added their thanks and appreciation after which parishioners, guests and friends were invited to add their greetings. Canon Sam McComb, a former rector of Ballinderry was among the guests to take the opportunity to speak – he and Canon Harris trained together for the ministry and are former curates of Christ Church, Lisburn.
Canon Harris had preached his farewell sermon at Ballinderry on Sunday September 25, and both he and Ray have now settled into their new home in Moira.