Page 12 - Moravian Messenger - October 2021
P. 12

Love, War and Peace
- A brief overview of Kilwarlin Moravian Church
© Br Livingstone Thompson
Located just a couple of miles from Hillsborough, Kilwarlin Moravian Church enjoys a gentle rural location. It is surrounded by gentle countryside and has lovely and peaceful gardens which reflect and represent a history far from that ideal.
During the years 1746-1755 the Moravian evangelist John Cennick was travelling around Great Britain and Ireland preaching, forming societies and establishing churches.
In 1752 he preached at Kilwarlin in the home of a local gentleman and with a good attendance and enthusiasm a church was soon established and opened by John Cennick in August 1754.
Unfortunately, over subsequent years the membership dropped to just a few and by the 1830s the church had fallen into serious disrepair.
But then along came a miracle or answer to prayer in the perhaps unlikely form of Basil Patras Zula, a Greek Noble.
Zula became at the age of 11, on the death of his father, a great Greek chieftain. He took part in battles during the struggle for independence but after fighting in the battle of Missolonghi, horrified by the terrible atrocities and with a price on his head, he decided to flee the country. He arrived in Ireland in 1828 where he came to know the Moravian Church, met a young
Moravian lady called Ann Linfoot, fell in love, got married and decided to join the Moravian ministry.
Subsequently he and Ann arrived in Kilwarlin and immediately set to work. Within a few weeks he had started work towards rebuilding the church and manse and later a small day school was erected.
Zula also created a beautiful garden with mounds, a fountain, summer house and flower beds, including one laid out to display letters from the Greek alphabet. The garden clearly reflects Zula's heritage, but it is also laid out to represent the layout of the battle of Thermopylae. As such it has considerable historical significance as the only Battlefield Garden in Ireland, but it is also perhaps intriguing to imagine the bemusement of the local people at the time of its construction.
Zula and his wife are both buried in the Kilwarlin burial ground. The clock presented to Zula still stands in the church and although the manse has been modernised to upgrade the electrics, plumbing and heating system, it retains its original quirky features with Zula's 'hiding places' and
with two doors to each room to account for his fears of attack and allow for secrecy or escape.
Rev Livingstone Thompson is the current minister of Kilwarlin Moravian Church and with the assistance of parishioners and a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, he has helped organise the clearing of the lake and the restoration of the gardens towards something approaching how they may initially have been.
Easter Sunday has an early service partially held, and weather permitting, in the burial ground. With a fabulous breakfast afterwards in the Church Hall an attendance every bit as healthy as that breakfast is assured!
The annual garden party which, when blessed with sunshine, is a haven of peace for those who wish to relax with tea, delicious cakes and refreshing ice cream - or a havoc of fun for youngsters who love to run around the grounds and play on the mounds - has been held every year for the last 100 years (excepting the cancellations necessitated by COVID-19) and remains a day not to be missed by many within the local community. We hope to welcome and entertain many more visitors to this pretty corner of County Down.
Sr Esther Law
 A Personal Account of life in Kilwarlin
by Sr Chanel McKinstry
When moving into the Kilwarlin area, we as a family were seeking to find a church close by our new home but were unsure what we were looking for. With neighbours recommending their own places of worships for us to join, we had many to choose from.
We set out along the country road, winding down to the stream and past a farm and stumbled upon the historic gates of Kilwarlin Moravian Church. Nestled in the stunning landscape, it blew us away of how lovely it looked and so we decided to attend that Sunday. Although the church was small and quaint, along with the warm welcome of the congregation, we agreed that it was perfect for us. That was six years ago, not long after Br Livingstone was appointed as minister.
During the pandemic, church has been very different with services
being put online to watch at a time that suits. This has reduced the number of those physically attending, but helped those who were shielding from the virus, to still feel included. This was carried through with the Sunday School lessons, where I worked along with other leaders from both Kilwarlin and University Road, to deliver a small online, weekly lesson for the children.
In August, I planned a Kid's Fun Day to help encourage the children back to the church and learn about Jesus. They are the future of the Church and I feel that in order to help give them a sense of involvement and ownership to the church, we need to help them become good Christians and enjoy the Church buildings and gardens that Kilwarlin has been so generously blessed with. Future plans include developing a Children's Nature Garden, where children from both congregations can come and enjoy a safe space to dig, plant and be creative with nature! We pray that the future provides opportunity to visit us at Kilwarlin and share its beauty.
© Sr Chanel McKinstry
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