On the evening of Friday 29th June, a special service will be held in the open air in a field on the Shanaghy Road near to where it meets the Vow Road, between Ballymoney and Kilrea at The Vow. The service has been organised by the Ballymoney and Ballylaggan congregations of the Reformed Presbyterian (Covenanter) church. It markks the ordination of Rev William Martin which was conducted near that location on 2nd July 1757.
William Martin was born near Ballykelly in 1729 and studied Theology in Scotland for some time before returning to his native Ulster. He became the first Minister of the Kellswater Congregation in 1760 but, mainly due to the persecution of the Covenamters by the governments of the time, he undertook an amazing task by organising a mass migration of Ulster Scots from here to America. A total of eighty families left Ulster and the majority of them settled in Rocky Creek. When the Anglo-American war (or War of Independence) broke out, many of Rev Martin's congregation joined the Patriotic Army and fought against the British. Rev Martin himself was in favour of this course of action and found himself persecuted and imprisoned for his beliefs.
The UlsterScotsJournal&News will be offering more on the life of Rev William Martin in the near future. In the meantime, do not miss the forthcoming 250th anniversary service at The Vow on Friday 29th July 2007 at 7:30pm.