The Reverend Norman James Houston
The Reverend Norman James Houston was ordained in 1946 as successor to Mr Heney. Mr Houstonís ministry reached beyond the life of the congregation by being Convenor of the Board of Studies and Studentsí Committee which concerns itself with candidates for the Ministry. He became well known throughout the Church and was respected for his advocacy and debating skill in the highest courts of our Church. He showed by his courage and determination when suddenly afflicted with paralysis that he had extraordinary powers of strength and faith by continuing to serve the congregation in all its needs when confined to a wheelchair. Mr Houstonís misfortune came suddenly when he was a young man and he persevered against great odds to be active in the life of the Congregation of Banagher and in the wider Church for an extra 16 years till his health was greatly undermined forcing him to retire in 1976 having been minister of this congregation for 30 years. Mr Houston could not have done this had he not had the support of his wife and the encouragement of his family. We salute them and are glad that Mr Houston has the comfort and love of his wife and family and the respect of all who know how difficult it is to be a minister of the Gospel without the added stress of physical disability.
Banagher experienced its longest vacancy with the retirement in August 1976 for it wasnít till December 1977 that a call was issued to the Reverend Norman Hunter to succeed Mr Houston as minister. Mr Hunter and his wife and family had returned from mission service in Malawi and Zambia under the Overseas Board of our Church. The change was very great for Mr Hunter after 11 years in Africa working mainly in Education in Secondary Schools as Chaplain and Teacher.
In a very different situation from what he was used to, he has tried to follow in the footsteps of those who lived and worked to glorify God in the work of Pastor, Preacher and Administrator. The P. W. A. of the Congregation provided the spur to modernize the Kitchen and Cloakroom and the Committee have responded by renovating and redecorating the Hall. The Manse was greatly improved so as to modernize it and provide added comfort. The Congregation have provided additional opportunities for the young people and children of our district to experience the comradeship of organised activities with a Christian influence in the 1st Banagher Company of the Boysí Brigade and the 308th Company of the Girlsí Brigade Northern Ireland.
'The lines have fallen to us in pleasant places, we have a goodly heritage'