Walks up Cherryvalley from North Road bridge railway line
On sunny summer afternoons
Picking apples from the side of the tracks
That spilled over from the gardens
of the houses on Cyprus Avenue
Watching the moth catcher working
the floodlights in the evenings
And meeting down by the pylons,
Playing round Mrs. Kelly’s lamp
Going out to Holywood on the bus,
And walking from the end of the lines to the seaside
Stopping at Fusco’s for ice cream,
In the days before rock ‘n’ roll
Hyndford Street, Abetta Parade, Orangefield,
St. Donards Church
Sunday six bells, and in between the silence
there was conversation
And laughter, and music and singing,
and shivers up the back of the neck

Van Morrison, ‘On Hyndford Street’ (1968)

When Van Morrison penned ‘On Hyndford Street’, one of his most famous songs, he didn’t realise he was perfectly describing our parish boundaries. The gulf between the red brick parlour homes of much of the district and the leafy villas of Cyprus Avenue and beyond was just as real to him in the late sixties as it had been when the church was established in 1887. The church sits on the fault line of the Beersbridge Road, to one side are the Victorian terraces which supplied the manufacturing industries of east Belfast with workers, to the other are the merchants’ houses which reflected the growing wealth of Belfast’s middle class. It was said that people attending our church in those days came from all sections of the community and the shipyard worker would sit with the solicitor, the mill worker with the school mistress.

That was then. Sadly very few churches can claim nowadays that the majority of their congregation lives within walking distance of the church gates. The Beersbridge Road, which was once filled with people on Sunday mornings making their way to church, now sees just a trickle. Although our members come from all classes and social backgrounds, there’s no denying that the balance has swung towards those who drive to church from outside the parish boundary. These new members tend to be young professionals with families. This change is a tremendous encouragement and marks another phase in our church’s history. What hasn’t changed is our desire as a congregation to spread the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone who lives within our parish boundaries, whether they live in a ‘big house’, apartment or terrace.