I conducted the lunchtime service in May Street, in this month which celebrates the 180th anniversary of the opening of the building. The famous first minister of May Street, Dr Henry Cooke, the champion of Presbyterian orthodoxy, was installed there in November 1829. He was a wonderful orator and debater who upheld orthodox reformed theology against Arianism.
Having been appointed Professor of Sacred Rhetoric and Catechetics and President of Assembly’s College in 1847, Dr Cooke resigned the pastorate of May Street in 1848, but at the request of the congregation he was appointed constant supplier of the pulpit until his retirement in 1867
Another famous minister of May Street was Rev Dr Wylie Blue. He was installed in May Street in 1916, and in 1918 he served with the YMCA in France. In 1919-20 he visited the United States and Canada as a member of the Ulster Delegation in opposition to Home Rule. By his eloquent preaching and genial personality he attracted crowds wherever he ministered.
May Street church is a magnificent building, although sadly the crowds that attended the church in Cooke’s or Blue’s day are no longer there.
Today the May Street congregation is trying to develop a new style of ministry in Belfast city centre. The facilities of the Urban Soul Cafe are excellent, and the cafe is open from 9am to 3.30pm each day. There is an enthusiastic core of hard-working people who would love to see the ministry continuing in this location.