The two Methodist churches on the Irish peninsula of Inishowen are part of a Circuit that straddles the Republic and Northern Ireland. There was a third chapel, in the small rural town of Moville but, when its congregation dwindled in the 1960s, it became a much-needed hall for the two remaining churches and the community. In recent years the hall building was so dilapidated it became unsafe to use and beyond repair.
Moville Hall is vital to the life and growth of both Methodist churches on the peninsula and for more than six years the congregations have worked hard to fundraise for its demolition and to build a new fit-for-purpose hall with a kitchen, additional meeting rooms, a lift, and access for all. In June 2019, the Methodist Grants programme provided £30,000 funding towards the project.
The new Moville Hall construction is well advanced and Revd Alison Gallagher, couldn’t feel more positive: “The building will be an amazing blessing for the whole community as well as for our congregations and those of other denominations in the area. Now we have the resources and foundation for the real work to begin … to transform our community and succeed in our mission to serve and support all who need it over the coming years.”
‘This small rural community hasn’t yet recovered from the 2008 recession’
Paul Playford, Grants Officer for Benefact Trust, who run the Methodist Grants programme, said: “The challenges in the rural community of Inishowen are isolation, poverty, increasing rates of suicide and a high number of single parent families. There is also a need to support older people and their carers. It’s imperative that the Inishowen Methodist Churches have a building that enables them to minister to this community and address many of these issues. We were really delighted to be able to make a grant of £30,000 to see this project succeed.”
‘Our Messy Church went ‘zoom’ during lockdown – it’s been a fantastic way to re-introduce ourselves’
While the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown slowed down building works, Revd Gallagher was delighted at how her congregations adapted to change and at the positives that have arisen as a result. Messy Church used to be held every few months in Inishowen, but because of lockdown the church decided to keep it going on Zoom (along with a youth fellowship group) on a fortnightly basis. The response has been fantastic and both groups will continue more frequently than before, with larger numbers, when the new building opens.
With Moville Hall close to completion, Inishowen Methodist Church is feeling excited about the possibilities ahead – and blessed at the huge interest, support and admiration the community is expressing both for the church and about the building itself. “It’s beautiful. It’s going to change so many things in Inishowen. We can’t wait to open the doors and get started …”