It was first envisaged that the portable wooden structure built in Pottinger Street, Cullybackey, to accommodate a small Elim congregation and officially opened in 1919 by Principal George Jeffreys, would be an outreach from the Ballymena Elim Church, which would be administered by their Pastor and session who, with the local leaders, would take responsibility for the services. As the work of the church progressed and the congregation increased a full-time pastor became necessary.
The old portable hall was made more permanent with the addition of a front porch, a small vestry and prayer room which was sometimes used to shelter a visiting preacher’s bicycle. The entire building was re-felted outside and ceiled inside and with the addition of a coal burning stove it became a very comfortable meeting place. In 1946 they were able to procure a lease for the ground on which the church stood and in 1952 they purchased the site and work commenced on a new church. This consisted of a main hall, small minor hall, kitchen and cloakrooms. Built by Mr Robert McCaughey work finished at the end of May 1954 and was officially opened on Saturday 5th June 1954.
Every church congregation has its trials and tribulations but none more so then the Elim in Cullybaceky, when on 23rd June 1978 news came of the terrible massacre of Elim missionaries in Rhodesia, now renamed Zimbabwe. One of those massacred was Pastor Roy Lynn, a member of the congregation, along with his wife Joyce and baby daughter Pamela Grace. The poem by Jean Graham at the end of this short history was written in memory of all those missionaries killed at that time.
With more families joining, this meeting house in Pottinger Street was becoming inadequate, and with no great deal of room for expansion on their present site they looked for possible new premises. After careful consideration a site belonging to Mr John Ewart became available on the Shellinghill Road. Building work commenced in November 1986 and the new church was completed with the Dedication and Opening Services taking place on Saturday, 6th February 1988.
IN MEMORY….of the Elim Missionaries Killed in Rhodesia
Far away in the land of Rhodesia,
Underneath the dark African sod,
We laid our loved ones to rest
In the hallowed “Acre of God.”
We will meet them in the Glory,
We will talk with them again,
We will walk with them in Heaven,
Free from sorrow, care and pain.
We will meet them in the morning
When the mists have rolled away,
We will see them in the brightness
Of God’s Everlasting Day.
And our souls are filled with worship
That they’re with our Saviour dear,
Whilst through mem’ries sweet and countless
To our hearts they’re ever near.
Through the riches of redemption
They’re delivered from all pain;
Through the love of God our Saviour,
Death in Christ is endless gain.
Oh! The peace beyond all measure,
Oh! The hope that cannot fail,
E’en in death we are united,
And we’ll meet beyond the veil.
Jean Graham, July 1978