18 Feb

A weekend of celebration marking 60 years of Pastor McConnell

58 years of the Whitewell Church and 60 years of the ministry of Pastor James McConnell were marked with a special weekend of celebration here at the Tabernacle.

The weekend began with Robin Mark and his band in Concert. It was a delight to have him back to the Tabernacle. Robin is known world-wide for many of his songs, including "Days of Elijah" and as always he brought us a mixture of concert, and of congregation worship.

Sunday morning and evening messages were brought by pastor Bayless Conley, from Cottonwood Church, California. Bayless has been a friend of this church and of Pastor McConnell for many years now, and it was lovely to have Bayless and Janet with us to share in this special weekend. Video tributes were also shown from others who could not be here in person, including Bob Gass, author of The Word For Today and John and Dale Estlinbaum who originally opened the current Tabernacle building 21 years ago.

Sixty years of Pastor McConnell's ministry would not have been complete without a look back at what the Lord has done through his life, and the life of the Whitewell Church over all these years, and Monday night was dedicated to a video tribute - taking some highlights from the 60 years, in just about 60 minutes.

The video, produced in-house,  included testimony of lives changed by the Lord, through the preaching of Pastor McConnell. The Pastor himself was also shown at many locations which have had real significance over the last 60 years, including Ormeau Park, where he talks about his early childhood, outside the Orange Hall where services were first held, Odyssey Arena and Kings Hall where Pastor and chief deacon Derek look back at some of the major gospel rally services held by the church. It's an insightful look by both Pastor, and those who have been close to him over many years, at the highlights, and some of the costs that his life of dedication to the gospel has brought.

The evening closed with personal comments from Pastor McConnell himself, as he talked candidly about his love for the Whitewell Church, and his prayers that it will continue to flourish under the leadership of Pastor David Purse, and about his own seeking for the Lord's guidance about how to best continue to be a blessing both here and beyond.

The tribute night will be available on DVD in a few weeks.

Once again on behalf of the Pastors, staff and members we pay tribute to the years of ministry Pastor James McConnell has given to the Whitewell people, and congratulate Pastor and Margaret on achieving this remarkable milestone.