Mountain Lodge Pentecostal Church ©2016 All Rights Reserved.
1950’s Mountain Lodge was founded in the 1950’s by a man called Thomas John Hunniford who sold a farm near Portadown and bought Mountain Lodge Estate which is situated near the village of Darkley in South Armagh, Northern Ireland.
Being of a Pentecostal background he started some meetings in his own house and when numbers grew, transferred them to the gate lodge on the estate.
Within a short time the gate lodge was too small and he added an extension to accommodate the increase.
1950’s One of the first missions run in the gate lodge was by two evangelists, Bob Mullen and David Greenow. (Mr Greenow was later to marry Mr Hunniford’s daughter and travel the world preaching the gospel).
A man from the village of Darkley by the name of Bob Flanagan went to the mission one night. Bob was from an assembly that did not believe in healing. These preachers were preaching signs, wonders and miracles.
After the meeting he went up and challenged the preachers, “Do you believe what you are preaching”. “We certainly do”, they said.
“Well then prove it to me” said Bob, “I have a girl at home dying of asthma. If you pray for her and she is healed, I will believe”.
The two men followed him to his house, just as Jesus would have done. The men entered the room and saw the girl gasping for breath. They laid hands on her rebuking the asthma and the next breath went straight to the bottom of her lungs and she was perfectly healed, Bob and his wife were amazed.
The following Sunday Bob Flanagan and his wife were at the Mountain Lodge meeting.
Bob was a God-
1957 In the spring a very successful mission was held nearby, in Darkley Orange Hall. The speaker was Mr John Reid from Moy, Co. Tyrone. On several nights John Reid brought someone with him to testify.
One of these men was Ben Beattie from Loughgall who had an amazing testimony of how his daughter was raised from the dead.
His daughter passed away in childbirth and the doctor came down the stairs and said “I’m sorry, Mr Beattie, we did all we could but could not save her”. Ben Beattie, though young in the faith believed with all his heart that God could raise his daughter. He jumped into the car and headed for John Reid’s house, known as `the Old prophet of the Moy’, and losing no time he brought John to his home, up the stairs, and into the bedroom. John and Ben both laid hands on the girl and after a few minutes she started breathing and sat up full of life and as far as we know is still alive today.
A local man, Robert Bain, better known to everyone as Bob, was asked by Harold Brown to go to the mission and wonder of wonders, Bob agreed to go, not knowing that these meetings were to change his life and that of his family forever. Many more testimonies were given at the mission and it shook Bob’s faith to it’s foundation because he was brought up to believe that these things died with the apostles.
After the mission Bob and his wife and family found themselves in Mountain Lodge Assembly. They were given a very warm welcome and as the assembly was small, it was a boost to see such a large family come in.
(In later years he would take over the office of Pastor of the Assembly).
1959 The gate lodge by now was too small so a larger hall was erected a short distance away on Mr Hunniford’s land. Bob Bain was a man that loved singing and there was plenty of that in Mountain Lodge. When he was only there about a year, Thomas John Hunniford put a book in his hand and said, “You go up and lead the singing”, which he did. He was a bit nervous at first but when he got started there was no stopping him. Everyone will always remember him leading the meetings with a big tambourine.
Some time later Mr Hunniford decided to move away and chose Bob to lead the flock.
I want to say at this time when Pastor Bob took over leading the assembly, he realised that he had a gift of divine healing, as taught in the scriptures. People came from far and near to be healed. In fact, it took over his whole life, there wasn’t a day that someone did not telephone or call for prayer, even in the middle of the night.
1969 The assembly was still small and visiting preachers came to speak at the 6.00 pm meetings. One of these was a man from Belfast with a prophetic ministry and he gave a message to the assembly that “I am going to visit this place with my power and will bring a people that you do not know and a people from across the border, and will plant them in your midst and you will have fellowship together, saith the Lord”.
A few months later it started to happen, people came without any invitation, and large families came from across the border and Mountain Lodge experienced it’s first real revival. The hall was packed to capacity and even three elders from nearby churches came in to break bread with us.
1971 But when revival hits the devil is not far away. In 1971 this new hall was burned down and we moved to Corkley Old Orange Hall, kindly granted for as long as we wanted it, which turned out to be one year. (The building was by now too small anyway).
1972 A cedar-
1983 God’s hand of blessing was on the meetings in this hall and Sunday nights saw an influx of young people come into the church. What a shock it was therefore, when on 20th November 1983 terrorists entered our church during the Sunday evening service, killing three of our elders and wounding seven of the congregation. In spite of all this God’s hand was upon us and the lives of all those in the main building were preserved.
There were possibly thirty young people and children in the meeting and none of them were hurt. Pastor Bob was badly shaken by it all for he did not believe such a thing could happen in a house of God.
It was all over in a few minutes and the gun men fled. Pastor Bob was praying for the wounded when he noticed a young man in the back seat badly injured. This young man had been shot through the door and five bullets were lodged in his stomach and bladder. It looked like he wouldn’t make it as he was bleeding very badly. Pastor Bob laid hands on him and commanded the bleeding to stop, which it did immediately.
This man who is now well and strong, testifies to this day that only for the prayers of Pastor Bob, he never would have made it to the hospital.
After this tragedy Pastor Bob received over 700 letters from people across the world, encouraging him to keep going. Many sent donations to help with the work.
During the dark days that followed the saints were strengthened by the word of God, and the prayers of God’s people, and were convinced by God’s Word that this door would not be closed because God had opened it. One young man in particular is worthy of mention, Billy Mc Cracken, a preacher and singer who travelled from Portadown of his own accord each Sunday for one whole year to help in the meetings, and greatly encouraged us to keep going.
1987 The oversight of the church believed with increasing numbers and the promises of God, it was time to build again, this time with bricks and mortar to cater for a growing congregation. Planning permission was sought for a new larger permanent building on the site.
Additional land was required to facilitate the project and so the neighbouring land owner, James Rainey was approached with a view to purchasing an additional portion. The fellowship are indebted to him for donating the land to us free of charge.
Plans were drawn for a modern steel framed building with ample car parking etc.
1989 A historic moment for the fellowship, when, after receiving planning permission and appointing a contractor, we held a cutting of the sod ceremony, and gave thanks to God for His faithfulness.
1990 A new much larger church building was built immediately behind the old church and was opened on 18th August 1990. Two services were held on the Saturday afternoon, with tea between followed by a further two meetings on the Sunday. The building was packed to capacity and beyond for all four meetings.
During the following two weeks, the Rev. Sam Workman, a well known evangelist conducted a mission in the new church
I want to mention two men outside of the fellowship, George Allen and Billy Burke, who offered us a lot of support financially and by their presence. They were a spiritual tower of strength in the midst of what appeared to be a mammoth task to all of us.This building cost £180,000, a vast step of faith for us, but with the support of friends, and sacrificial giving by the fellowship we would clear the debt in just four years.
During the week prior to opening the new building, the old church was craned over to the edge of the site and is still in use for youth work and outreach.
An assistant pastor and new elders were installed at this time, and for the following four years this building would remain the meeting place of the congregation.
1994 We had settled comfortably into the new building, preaching the gospel, conducting open-
David Bell, our assistant pastor, a man with the same vision and ministry as Pastor Bob, then accepted the senior position and continued to lead the work forward under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Things were really going well, when later that year on 4th September 1994 we suffered an arson attack and our new building was gutted by fire, completely destroying the interior of the building. On the morning the fire was discovered, we were due to commence a two week mission in a barn near Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone. Although we were at first disheartened by the fire, what a blessing that mission turned out to be as lives were changed for eternity. For the next year we moved back into the old cedar-
1995 The newly refurbished church was opened on 18th August 1995, exactly five years after it first opened. This time, unlike the first, most of the work was carried out by the voluntary assistance, not only of those in the congregation, but also by the help of other friends, some of whom travelled a considerable distance to be there.
It now includes a Church Hall, a second kitchen and a Balcony which has proved to be a real blessing. We believe this building will spearhead the last move of God in this part of the world, with signs, wonders and miracles, which will herald in the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1998 For many years the church had a two day convention at Christmas and Easter with two meetings each day and tea between. Those meetings were a tremendous blessing and people came for miles to attend. The meetings started at 3 pm, with tea at 5 pm. The evening meeting began at 6 pm and this meeting didn’t finish until 10 pm!
In 1998, we felt led of God to change the format to an Easter Camp instead, a place where we could accommodate the whole family, have a weekend break, and be blessed as well.
These camps are a great success with new people and visiting speakers from around the world coming every year. No one knows the work that is done in the lives of people as they worship together.
1998 During our first Easter Camp in 1998, we started a cross-
2002 Accommodation became a problem owing to the increasing numbers attending Camp each year, and we erected a new purpose built chalet with twelve bedrooms and complete with showers etc at the rear of the church.
2008 In addition to the Youth Club, some of the young people began a youth work after the 2008 Easter Camp, which operates both in the church (Lifestyle) and in the pastor’s home (Ignitable), young people are also encouraged to take part in the meetings.
There is also an outreach team working on the streets, in the homes, wherever they get an opening to minister to people’s needs.
2009 To cater for the increased activity around the church, particularly at Camp, it has been necessary to upgrade the electricity supply to the site. This work was carried out by the NIE towards the end of 2009 at a total cost in the region of £17,000. We are trusting that this will be an end to blackouts during camp!!
And Now For The Future . . . Well, that’s in the lord’s hands!
I know there is a lot of people, men and women who want to see signs, wonders and miracles as happened in the early church. We believe that God is going to pour out His Spirit upon this people greater than in the past.
Some morning or evening God will pour out of His Spirit upon us and we will never be the same again. It is not now, “will it happen?”, but “when will it happen?”. How do I know this, because the climate is now right. We have unity within the fellowship and that guarantees spiritual success.
We are on the verge of something BIG.
Come and see for yourself.
By Tommy Bain.