Rev William Cowper Lynas

The Rev William Cowper Lynas  B.A. – 1954 – 1961

Twelfth Minister of Ballywillan Presbyterian Church

Mr Lynas was ordained and installed minister of Ballywillan Presbyterian Church on Thursday 28th January 1954.  His wife Betty is a graduate of Queen’s University, Belfast , and daughter of Rev and Mrs Samuel Stevenson of Glastry Manse, Kircubbin, Co.Down.

In 1961 Mr Lynas resigned from Ballywillan and was installed in Dunmurry on 13th April 1961.

Mr Lynas, who comes from Belfast , was a brother of Rev R V Lynas who was minister of Gardenmore Presbyterian Church, Larne.

The Chronicle report of Mr Lynas’ installation reports that the new minister was a well-known athlete who had played for Collegians Rugby 1st XV and ran for the junior and senior track teams of Methodist College .  A distinguished language student, he was the Dickey Hebrew Prizeman at Magee College , Derry, which he entered from Methodist College , Belfast .  He obtained a BA degree at Trinity College , Dublin , and in 1952 finished his theological course at the Presbyterian College , Belfast , where he was first in elocution.

During his final year at Magee College , Mr Lynas was assistant to Rev W I Steele, BA  BD, minister of First Derry Presbyterian Church.  Later in his student days, he became assistant to Rev David Dowling, MA DD, minister of McCracken Memorial Church , Upper Malone, Belfast .  Before Mr Lynas began studying for the ministry he had been a banker.

Mr and Mrs Lynas’s children, Gillian and Michael, were both born at Ballywillan.

The Chronicle reports that during his speech at the ordination luncheon, Mr Lynas said that during his time of assistantship, he had become more and more conscious of the importance of work amongst the young people and the children.  He believed that when a child had learned the habit of church going, and was interested in the work of the church, those habits would remain in adult life.  Many happy memories would keep the link between the child and the church.

Mr Lynas soon put these ideas into practise.  On 29th September 1954 it was noted in the Kirk Session Minutes that: Mr Lynas hoped to commence a Girls Brigade, a life boys troop and a social club for the younger people of the congregation and a Boys Brigade Company.  The Session expressed their approval and hoped that the new organisations would be successful.  The Girls Brigade was formed in October 1954, and the Boys Brigade in November 1954.

During Mr Lynas’ ministry many improvements were carried out to the church building.  In 1958/1959 eight new windows were constructed in the nave, the complete inside walls of the building were renovated, and a new oil-fired heating system was installed.  Re-surfacing of all the pathways surrounding the church were also carried out.  The church was, of course, closed while these improvements took place.

When the church was opened again in May 1959 the Alexander family presented a new organ to the church.  It was dedicated to the memory of Rev W H Hutchinson, minister from 1932 until 1953 and his wife formerly Dr Isobel Alexander.

Mr and Mrs Lynas have been welcome visitors to Ballywillan many times since they moved to Dunmurry in 1961.  In September 1970 Mr Lynas opened and dedicated the renovated and enlarged church hall.  He spoke of his pleasure at meeting so many old friends that night.

In March and April 1979 Mr Lynas was the guest speaker at the Silver Jubilee of both the Girls Brigade and the Boys Brigade.  In his sermon at the Girls Brigade Thanksgiving Service, Mr Lynas recalled that when the GB had been formed in 1954, it was the only company within the north coast area, and remained so for a number of years.  He spoke of the dedication of the officers, and the influence for good that the GB had had on its members and, most important, the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom amongst girls.

In his BB Jubilee speech Mr Lynas spoke of the early days of the Boys Brigade at Ballywillan, and paid particular tribute to the enthusiasm of Mr Hal Stewart in the establishment of the Company.

Miss A. Taylor’s Newspaper Cuttings Scrapbook.
‘The Witness’, Presbyterian Historical Society Library, Belfast