News and Events

Upcoming Events

Please see the full photo gallery at the bottom of the page. You can also leave a comment if you wish.

New Minister for Ballyblack

We are delighted to announce that on Monday 12th October 2020, the congregations of Ballyblack and Carrowdore&Ballyfrenis voted overwhelmingly to issue a call to Andras Gilicze to become Minister of the linked congregations.


Andras’ installation will take place in Ballyblack Presbyterian Church on Friday 4th December 2020.

Andras will then conduct his first service in both Ballyblack & Carrowdore churches on Sunday 6th December 2020. 

UNFORTUNATELY - due to the current restrictions with Covid-19, the installation service will be limited to the Session and their spouses as representatives of both congregations.

We all look forward to welcoming Andras to Ballyblack on Sunday 6th December at 10am. 


Church Services resume after Covid-19 

Church services will resume this Sunday 13th September @ 10am. A camera has been installed in the Church which relays audio & video to the extension TV and a new 75’ TV in the Main Hall.


There's no problem being socially distanced at Ballyblack with a choice of three spacious places to sit and worship!


All Covid-19 signage in place and a one way system in operation. Please wear a mask at all times, and sanitise your hands on arrival using the sanitiser provided. Thank you.

The young people of Ballyblack Presbyterian Church Kids Zone put a great deal of thought and effort into their recent presentation of the Nativity story. It was an interactive production with members of the congregation including Marshall Simpson, Renee Bole, Edna McCormick and John A Rankin “volunteering” to take part.


Following the service Rev Dr Donald Watts presented John A. Rankin with a gift to mark his retirement as chairman of the Fund-Raising sub Committee. Dr Watts thanked John for his work over many years encouraging the members to support the many financial challenges which the congregation had faced. In accepting the gift John emphasised that the fund raising which the congregation had undertaken had been a real team effort which he had been happy to co-ordinate. He had been responsible for fund raising when the congregation had undertaken 2 major projects which included the refurbishment of the manse and then the major work in extending and refurbishing the halls.

"Ladies who Brunch"


The PW intend to have a "Ladies who Brunch" at 11am on Saturday 23 June in the Church Hall. All ladies of the congregation are invited, along with their friends. There is a charge of £5 per person. If you plan to come please sign up on the list in the church porch so we have some idea of numbers. Further announcements will be made nearer the time.

Session report to AGM 2018.


Dr Watts and members of the congregation, it gives me great pleasure to present this report on behalf of the Session to the 2018 Annual General Meeting of the congregation.


We are now 2 years on from the date when our former Minister, Rev Simon Henning, sadly announced that he intended to resign from his charge from the end of August 2016. We have had many challenges placed before us but I am delighted and must pay tribute to the congregation that they have stayed faithful to our vision for the congregation, have substantially increased our Free Will Offering and have increased attendance numbers at Sunday morning services. These were the 2 specific challenges laid down by the Linkage Commission of the General Assembly which is the body which decides if we are to be given permission to call a minister.


The Session have been helped greatly in all that has had to be done, firstly, by the work undertaken by our Vacancy Convener, Rev Bobbie Stevenson. I must pay tribute to his interest in the congregation and the individual members visiting them and caring for them. Secondly, as you know, since September we have had Rev Dr Donald Watts as our Stated Supply. The consistency of his ministry, his care and visitation of the congregation by both himself and his wife Fiona has created an atmosphere of fellowship in the congregation which had been lacking as the Vacancy continued. We are indebted to them both.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank the following:


1. Our Organist Mrs Sue Carson and her faithful choir. Lyndsey McDowell for playing piano and helping to train the young people in the Sunday School to develop their musical skills. We, as the Session, would like to encourage the young people to take part in our Sunday morning services as often as they feel comfortable.


2. Our Treasurer, Jim Palmer, for the meticulous way in which he looks after our finances ably assisted by the members of the finance committee, David Blevings, our Property convener, who spends many unseen hours looking after our church buildings and all members of the congregational Committee for their dedicated service.


3. The Sunday School Superintendent, Christine McCracken, her willing band of teachers, the creche volunteers and those involved with our very successful Youth Club as they look after the next generation of our congregation.


4. The Captains and Officers of the Girl’s Brigade and Boy’s Brigade. We were sorry that Norma Tennis decided this year to retire as Captain and Pauline McKee as officer of our GB after many years’ service and we pay tribute to them for their dedication. The Session were delighted to appoint Lindsay Curran as the new GB Captain and wish her, supported by all the officers, every success as she takes on this new role. Additional helpers are always needed to share in all this important work with our young people so if anyone is able to help please speak to any member of Session.


5. Thanks also to all the leaders of our other organisations, and to you, the members of the congregation, who so willingly undertake so many tasks including cleaning the church and supplying flowers Sunday by Sunday.


Over the past year we are delighted also with the success of the Ballyblack Community Men’s’ Group which, although not strictly speaking a church organisation, meets in the hall and has strong links with the congregation. We are delighted also to see new groups starting including the Monday morning walking group and the Knit and Natter group and wish them every success.


Dr Watts re-established our Bible Study & Prayer group and we are very encouraged that numbers of up to 14 have attended. Our Annual Seedtime & Ploughmen’s service in March is also a way in which we look to support the wider farming community. Our service this year was very well attended and we were delighted to be able to send over £1000 to the Air Ambulance as our nominated charity.


Like all congregations we have sadly lost many very valuable loyal members of our congregation in the past year but were delighted to celebrate happy occasions also with weddings, baptisms (both adult and infant) and welcome new communicant members to our fellowship.


We are also adapting to the modern age with more involvement with our church Facebook page and keeping our website up to date. Thanks to Marshall Simpson and Lindsay Curran for being responsible for this.


As we look to the future we are uncertain what we will hear from the Linkage Commission as they meet very soon. The Session is, however, encouraged that there is much to be thankful for in our unique rural congregation. We would encourage you to remember the congregation in your prayers as we look forward to whatever further challenges are in store. This concludes my report.


Mr Alex Warden



You are all very welcome to worship this morning. If any of you are visiting it’s good to see you and we hope you feel welcome here. We are delighted to welcome back Rev Willis Cordner to conduct our service this morning. Dr Watts will be away on holiday until the end of the week. During that time the Convener, Rev Bobbie Stevenson, will be available for any urgent pastoral needs. Tea/coffee will be served after the service.


This evening Lorraine Moore will be speaking in Carrowdore on behalf of Open Doors (Ministry to the Persecuted Church) at 7:00pm. Everyone will be very welcome to attend.


Next Sunday will be the May Communion Service. We hope that you will try to be present, especially if you are a Communicant member, but of course all are welcome to this service. The Session will meet prior to the service at 10.45 in the Warden Room.


Sunday 20th May has been set aside as Full Attendance and Gift Day. The envelopes and letters are available for elders to collect this morning. Please try to be present. At the end of that Service there will be a short Congregational AGM.


The Ballyblack Community Men’s group are going on a trip to Schomberg House (House of Orange) Cregagh Road Belfast on Thursday 17th May leaving the Church Car Park at 9. 30am.Tea and coffee will be served at 10.30am followed by a guided tour and talk. Light lunch will be served and they hope to return to Ballyblack by 1.30pm.Cost of trip is £15.00 per person.


An update on the current situation with regards to the vacancy.

The Vacancy Commission met on Wednesday 11th April to review the vacancy situation in the light of some informal discussion that had taken place some weeks earlier. The view of the Vacancy Commission was that the Convener (Rev. Stevenson) should meet with the Kirk Session in order to get our mind on how things might be progressed. Rev. Stevenson met with the Kirk Session on Monday evening 23rd of April and it was the firm consensus that the Vacancy Commission should seek the approval of Presbytery to go back to Linkage Commission making the case for a Full-Time minister for Ballyblack. A further meeting was held on Monday 30th April with the Congregational Committee (which included the Kirk Session) and again the consensus was that the Convener should present the case for Ballyblack at Presbytery the following evening. (Tuesday 1st May). This was done and Presbytery approved the presentation, which clearly made the case that the best ministry option for Ballyblack, in order to give the congregation, the chance to consolidate and develop its work and witness in the future, was that of a Full-Time minister. The Convener will soon be in touch with Linkage Commission which will be meeting on Tuesday 22nd May, after which we should have a decision. The Vacancy Commission commends the Kirk Session, Committee and the congregation on the positive ways they have responded to the challenges put before them since the middle of 2017. Figures presented show an increase in FWO, and also an encouraging increase in numbers attending worship services.


When the Vacancy Commission knows more – the congregation will be informed.

Family Table Quiz! 

The Fund-Raising Committee in conjunction with the Youth Club are organising a Family Table Quiz in the Hall on Friday 23rd February 2018 at 7.30 p.m. The question master will be Ian Brown. The cost will be £5 per adult and £2.50 per child. All proceeds will be going to church funds. It is hoped that this event will be well supported by all age groups.

New Year's Day Walk

The New Year’s Day Family Walk is being organised leaving from the church hall @ 10.30. The walk will be suitable for all as the less able can take a shorter route. The full walk should take about 1 ½ hours. A soup lunch will be served in the hall following the lunch and non-walkers will be welcome to join us for lunch at about 12.30. The cost will be £5 per adult and £2.50 per child. For catering purposes please ask anyone interested to sign the sheet in the church porch.

Men's Group Dinner 2017

Offering gifts to Belfast City Mission, Christmas 2017

The picture shows Alex Warden (left) delivering gifts to Belfast City Mission at their Glencairn Estate Hall. Among those receiving the gifts were Ivan Patterson from Newtownards who took some of the services at Ballyblack during the summer.



With Sacrament of Baptism
Gifts will be given to the Belfast City Mission
Coffee or tea after the service in the Halls




Led by the children of the Sunday School





Led by Rev Robert Stevenson


Led by Rev William Haslett






Office Bearers
Clerk of Session – MR Alex Warden
Seaview Farm,
92 Bowtown Road,
Newtownards, Co. Down,
BT23 8SL.
Tel: (028) 9181 3330


Treasurer – MR Jim Palmer
19 Bowmount Park,
Newtownards, Co. Down,
BT23 3SS
Tel: (028) 9181 5709


CONGREGATIONAL Secretary – MRS Madeline Russell
74 Newtownards Road,
Donaghadee, County Down,
BT21 0PT
Tel: (028) 9188 2394


Charity Registration No: NIC105386


May God’s blessing be with you and your family at this Christmas Time and into the New Year.





Minister - Rev Dr Donald Watts
Tel: (028) 91450141

Ballyblack Presbyterian Church PW Programme                        

Our 2017-18 theme is “Grow and bear fruit” 


Thurs. 21st September 2017
Eat Around the World.  Food sampling from six countries.


Thurs. 19th October 2017
Valerie Scott – People International.  
What the Koran says about Jesus.


Wed. 15th November 2017
Candlelit Supper–Secret Garden. 
Flower arrangement display - discount in Gift Shop.
Followed by supper. £15.00. No refunds.


Thurs. 7th December 2017
Bell ringing and musical entertainment.
Followed by light Christmas Supper.


Thurs. 18th January 2018
The Fisherman’s Mission – Superintendent Ingrid Perry.
Pastoral and practical outreach to fishermen and their families.


Thurs. 15th February 2018
Andy Galbraith. Life as a refugee in the Middle East.


Sunday 11th March 2018 11am
P.W. Service – Mrs. Jean Gibson.
Her book “Journey of Hope” will be on sale.


Thurs. 15th March 2018
Neil Porteus. History and development of Mount Stewart.


Thurs. 19th April 2018
A.G.M.  Election of New Officers.  Film and supper.


May or June 2018
Outing to be arranged.                


Old Tyme Dance

Friday 1st April

8pm - 11.30pm

Ballyblack Church Hall


A great evening of dance and entertainment, hosted by a very well-known man in Old Tyme Dance circles,

Samuel Miskelly


Only £5 per person including Supper!

Everyone very welcome!

School's Out NI Easter Holiday Scheme

When? Monday 21st March to Friday 25th March 2016

Time? 8.30am to 5.30pm

Who? All children of Primary School age, P1 to P7

Where? Ballyblack Church Hall, Newtownards


Please contact Susannah Lyttle on 07710953959 or email for more information, or to book!


You can also follow us on Facebook 

Quiz Night!

Everyone will be welcome to our Quiz Night on Friday 11th March 2016 at 7pm in The Church Hall. Bring your team along for an entertaining evening! Supper will be kindly procided by The Youth Club. Suggested minimum donation of £5 per person in aid of The Church Hall Building Fund.

GB Display

The Annual GB Display is on Tuesday 15th March 2016 at 7pm. Everyone is very welcome to come along!

St. Patrick's Night Stew and Tart Night

Everyone would be very welcome to join us at a Stew and Tart Night on St. Patrick's, Thursday 17th March 2016, at 5.30pm for 6pm in Ballyblack Church Hall.


The PW Group are having an afternoon tea party for the senior members of the congregation on Tuesday afternoon, 19th March. They are also presenting a fund raising evening of “Cookery & Craic” with the BBC Presenter Paula McIntyre on Tuesday 16th April at 7.30 p.m. in the church hall. Tickets are available from any member of the PW at a cost of £15 each and all proceeds are in aid of the building fund and PW Missions.

Ballyblack Men’s Group will meet in the church hall on Thursday 21st March at 10.30 a.m. A warm invitation is extended to all men in the congregation and their friends.

Our Seedtime Service will be held on Sunday evening 24th March at 7.00 p.m. when the guest speakers will be Dr John Barry and Mr Harry Sinclair, UFU President.


Other members of the farming community will also be taking part and it is hoped that there will be a good attendance from the congregation.

The Rev McAdam’s Memorial Service will be held Sunday 7th April at 3.00 p.m. and it is hoped that the Memorial Stone will be dedicated the previous Sunday 31st March, Easter Sunday.

On Saturday 27th April there will be a service at 2.00 p.m. when the Moderator of the General Assembly Rev Dr Roy Patton will be officially opening our refurbished and extended church hall.

We have also been asked to announce that the Faith Mission are having their Bangor Convention in Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church over the Easter weekend. Details are in the church porch.

The Church Hall Renovation is Complete!

February 2013


Please click here to find out more. These are very exciting times for our Congregation and the surrounding community. Sincere thanks go to all those who have contributed their time, money and gifts to this project. 


You can see photos in the Gallery at the bottom of this page.

Our Christmas Day service is at the ungodly (no pun intended) hour of 10am on the 25th. If you have younglings why not encourage them to bring along their toys from Santa. If you're an adult and you want to show off the present you received we'll give you both the opportunity to show it off and the number of a good Counsellor.


We'd love to see you there!

Our Christmas Eve Service is at the normal time of 11.30pm on 24th December and will be by candle light.


Why not come along and join with us as we welcome in Christmas Day together and celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.


And don't worry, you'll be back home well before Santa shows his face!

On Friday 7th December 2012 I will be sleeping out at the McKee Clock at Bangor's Marina. Why you might reasonably ask!


You might remember that 4 of our young people went to Uganda during the summer of 2011. They went with a charity called Abaana who works with children in a country that has suffered so terribly over the last few decades.


I'm only doing the one night, but others are spending an entire 48hrs 'on the streets'. I realise that times are financially tough at the moment, but if you have anything to spare I'd appreciate it.


You can donate online at or if you're not computer literate/confident you can hand it to me directly.





Harvest Thanksgiving Services

Sunday 14th October 2012 11am and 7pm


Thank you to everyone who attended these services of thanksgiving. Special thanks to Mrs Carson and the augmented choir, and to Mrs Cochrane and everyone who decorated the Church so beautifully. 


Simon Henning announced that Alexander Lyttle and Graeme Warden from the congregation will be travelling to New Zealand on Monday 19th October for several months to work on farms. We wish Alexander and Graeme and their friend James the very best on their exciting adventure, and they will be in our prayers over the coming months.

Church Hall Renovation

September  - December 2012


We are excited to be renovating our Church Hall. This means that there is some inconvenience for the Clubs and Societies but please don't let this put you off! Girls' Brigade, Boys' Brigade, Creche, Sunday School and PW are all still going. If you would like to find out more about this, click on About Us, the Clubs and Societies. 

Church Hall Clearance

Monday 16th July 2012


The end of an era! The Church Hall has now been cleared out to allow renovations to commence! Thank you to everyone who helped on Monday.

Charity Golf Event

Afghanistan - There and Back

Saturday 5th May, 2012


You are invited to a talk:

"Afghanistan - There and Back"

In the Church on Saturday 5th May at 7pm


Suggested Minimum Donation of £10 per person, to include supper afterwards in the Church Hall. All proceeds in aid of the Church Hall Fund.

GB Display

Friday 27th April, 2012

Our annual Girls' Brigade Display took place in the Church Hall on Friday 27th April. Thank you to everyone who attended! The Church Hall was full! Captain's report and some photos coming soon.

Fields of Life Thanks!

Thank you to everyone who donated clothes, pens, paper and other items for Roy and Alexander Lyttle's trip to Uganda in March. You can read about their trip in the Blog section of the website, and several more photos have been uploaded in the Gallery below.

Seed Time Service

Sunday 25th March, 7.30pm


Our Service of Thanksgiving for the wider farming community was a great success. Thank you to all who attended.

Left to Right: 

Mr William Wilson (President of the Young Farmers' Clubs of Ulster), John Rankin (Member of Kirk Session), Mrs Ethel Patterson (Federation Chairman of the Women's Institute of NI), Mr John Fay (Principal of CAFRE), Mr Angus Wilson (Fields of Life),

Mr Alex Warden (Clerk of Kirk Session)

PW Hospitality Lunch

Tuesday 20th March, 2012


On Tuesday 20th March the PW hosted senior members of the congregation and friends at a lunch followed by entertainment in the Church Hall. This was held instead of the usual evening meeting as many find it difficult to attend in the dark winter months.


The entertainment began as guests were greeted on arrival by their hosts, dressed as they would have been at the opening of our Church Hall, just over one hundred years ago in the style of 'Downton Abbey' and 'Upstairs, Downstairs' staff!


Everyone enjoyed a roast beef dinner, followed by trifle and a cup of tea before some music and song from local group 'Keep Her Lit'.


There was no fee to attend, however a very generous £322 was raised in donations as a token of the appreciation of the guests.

The beginning of the Rambling season!

Saturday 17th March

We will start the season with the St. Patrick's walk organised by the Down District Council. This walk has been operating for many years and is professionally marshalled by the local Lecale Ramblers.This year's walk has been arranged for Saturday 17th March instead of the Monday bank holiday and we meet at Castleward Park, Strangford for registration between 10.00 and 10.30 for a sharp 11.45 start. Everyone is welcome and the more the merrier!

Reflecting on India by Jenny Martin

Tuesday 21st February, 2012


Photos of our Events!