Ahorey Presbyterian Church, Ahorey, Co. Armagh

In August 1942, visitors from the US Army came to Ahorey Presbyterian Church, Co. Armagh. A preacher, soloist, and organist brought some American flair.

Ahorey Presbyterian Church

122-148 Aghory Road

Portadown

Co. Armagh

BT62 3SX

United Kingdom

Ahorey Presbyterian Church in the village of Ahorey, Co. Armagh dates back to its formation in 1786. The area was predominantly a farming region not far from the village of Richill with Armagh and Newry among the nearest large towns.

A former pastor at Ahorey Presbyterian Church founded a church in the United States of America. Reverend Thomas Campbell was the second minister in the Co. Armagh village between 1798 and 1807 before emigrating. In America, he founded the “Church of the Disciples of Christ”.

Ahorey Presbyterian Church

Ahorey Presbyterian Church in the village of Ahorey near Portadown, Co. Armagh. Photo supplied by Richard Edgar. Copyright unknown.

US Army in Ahorey

On 9th August 1942, a special service took place at the small rural Presbyterian church. The preacher, soloist, and organist were all serving in the American Forces based in the area. The minister was Reverend De Los Markin, a Padre in the US Army from College Avenue Christian Church, Des Moines, Iowa. He was a graduate of Drake University, Iowa. Lance Corporal Grant L Sanders of Newton, Iowa played the organ accompanying Corporal Marion Wells of Gruver, Iowa. Another visitor to the church was Driver Steven Scheider of Scotland, South Dakota.

Sanders sang “Lord Make Me Strong” followed by a sermon described as “forceful” on “The Claims of Christ for Himself”. The talk mentioned 6 ways in which man has regarded Christ as a weakling, imposter, myth, fanatic, poor man, and Saviour Lord. He also addressed the young people of the congregation on “Honesty and the Word of God”. Other than the American soldier’s solo, Miss Rita Stephens played the organ and Reverend Fry conducted the rest of the service. The Portadown News reported on the event on Saturday 15th August 1942.

Reverend RG Fry, Minister at Ahorey Presbyterian in 1942 also had connections on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. He studied in Canada and ministered there before returning to Ireland and the Presbyterian Church. After the service, Reverend and Mrs. Fry entertained the American guests at the Manse. There, they discussed a plaque in the church erected by prior American visitors of the “Church of the Disciples of Christ” that commemorated Reverend Campbell’s ministry in Ahorey.

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