13 May

Pastor William McTernaghan Retires

As he celebrates 50 years at Whitewell and 38 years in the ministry as an assistant pastor, William McTernaghan, who will be 70 in May, believes it’s the right time to step aside. Recently Senior Pastor David Purse informed the congregation of the decision, and Pastor William shared his story this week with our Communications and Media Director John McCreedy. 

Planted in the House of the Lord

Pastor William McTernaghan is one of a handful of people who can claim to have been at Whitewell from our earliest days at the Orange Hall and remains. 

Nevertheless, due to health reasons and other factors, Pastor William has decided to retire from his position as an assistant pastor next month ending an incredible length of service. He explains: “My body has been telling me it is time to retire. By God’s grace, I’ve had long and eventful innings, and through it, all God has been full of mercy and loving-kindness.”

Another reason he has decided to step aside is to give younger people an opportunity. Like many others, Pastor William senses a shift in church life and is not ignorant of a new generation emerging. “We have seen some amazing times and characters in this church over the years but change comes to us all. Age catches up with us, and we need to recognise when it is time to make room for younger pastors and people in ministry and give them an opportunity. In this respect Pastor Stephen Campbell is doing a great job developing the youth and who knows what the future holds for our kids,” says Pastor William. 

Back in the 1960s, William worked at the engineering firm Everton Engineering as a works manager, followed by a spell at Crittall McKinney, a window company, but a higher call to enter the ministry soon followed on 1st January 1981. 

Pastor William recalls: “At the time Pastor McConnell brought me out as an assistant pastor, along with other men to help his dreams become a reality in building a strong work for God. He needed a solid band of men behind him, and it’s amazing that I’m still here all these years later.” 

For most of those years, Pastor William oversaw our bus ministry which he only handed over last year to Pastor Frankie Weir. What started as a small ministry in the sixties, grew into something incredibly time-consuming as the church increased in size and our bus fleet increased also. By the nineties and start of the new millennium, keeping the charge of the buses proved a full-time time job alone for Pastor William. 

A Scout leader and chaplain for many years too, his best memory, however, has nothing to do with his ministry. Instead, he treasures two special privileges to this day. Reveals Pastor William: “My best memory is walking into the old Orange Hall on the Whitewell Road and giving my life to Christ while having the pleasure of seeing my three girls grow up to love, serve and follow Christ as well, is something I don’t take for granted. 

Tear-filled eyes as we sat discussing his time at the Tabernacle illustrated not just how much Pastor William loves this work at Whitewell, but also how difficult it has been for him to call it a day finally. 

Certainly, Pastor William has always been loyal and committed to the ministry at Whitewell, exemplified when both he and his wife Lillian volunteered to stand in as parents of the children at our home in Romania for around a year and a half back in the late nineties as we waited for a couple to take over the work.

Pastor William and Lillian cared for the children’s daily needs and ran the home during a difficult time in the history of the country of Romania, but he maintains it was still a wonderful experience for them both.  “It was an interesting and profitable time which helped us appreciate what we have here at home and how God has been so good to us,” he says. 

On his return from eastern Europe he slotted back into his daily pastoral duties which have seen him visit thousands of homes over the years, something he insists will not stop due to his imminent retirement. Says Pastor William, “Health permitting, I intend to continue to visit people God puts on my heart. It’s what I’ve always done, and that won’t change just because I have retired.”

Something else that isn’t likely to change is the fact that Pastor William will continue to attend the place he knows as his home – the Metropolitan Tabernacle. It’s his church and the fellowship of his family. Most of all, however, Pastor William’s heart is, and always has been, here at Whitewell, obvious by his remarkable dedication and service over the years. “God doesn’t uproot what He has planted,” says Pastor William.  

With genuine heartfelt feeling, Pastor William concluded with the words: “I have no regrets at all about my life in the ministry; I only wish I could have been as faithful to God as He has been to me, but I won’t be stopping coming to the church. I still intend to be about my Father’s business.”