Kellswater RP Church welcomes their new Minister

Ballymena Times
Published: 13:40 Updated: 17:39 Friday 25 September 2009

KELLSWATER Reformed Presbyterian Church is a congregation with a long and proud history having been established way back in 1760.

They are now looking forward to an equally exciting future under their new Pastor, Rev. John Coates.

The 42-year-old was born on the Shore Road area of Belfast but considers Glengormley to be his hometown and is a past pupil of the secondary school there.

Looking back, John is deeply thankful for the influence of his Christian grandmother who faithfully read the scriptures to him when he was a child and taught him about his need to be saved.

Young John also attended Sunday school at Ballyhenry Presbyterian Church. However, when he reached his teenage years, John wrongly decided that worldly things were more interesting. He particularly remembers God Word speaking into his conscience as a 15-year-old but put this to the back of his mind, foolishly promising, ‘ I’ll get saved some day.’

But it would be another 15 years before John would surrender his life to Christ His Saviour.

Taking up the story, Rev. Coates said: “By this stage I was married and had settled down a wee bit. A friend of ours invited me and my wife to go to a Pentecostal Church on the Shore Road. We went along and the Pastor preached the Gospel and we found ourselves repenting of our sins and in tears seeking the Lord”.

John continued: “I knew from that moment, having wasted 30 years of selfishly living for myself that I wanted to spend the rest of my life sharing the good news that Jesus saves.”

For the next eight years, John, Janet and their young daughter, Aimee found a spiritual home at Ballycriagy Congregational Church where the preaching ministry of Ballymena man, Rev. Tom Shaw, made a big impression on them. A spell in the Faith Mission in Co Laois ended when the Coates’ returned to Glengormley to become members of a congregation of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in north Belfast. And there under the ministry of the Rev Robert Beckett John entered theological training as student for the E.P.C ministry at the Reformed Presbyterian College at Knockbracken.

However during his third year of study, John became convinced of some distinctive principles of the Reformed Presbyterian church and made the difficult decision of completing his studies as a Reformed Presbyterian or ‘covenanter’ as they are sometimes referred to.

After graduating from college in May 2008, John spent time with various RP congregations in Ballyclare, Carrickfergus and Lisburn before receiving the ‘call’ to Kellswater.

Talking about what he would like to see happen there, the incoming Minister said: “I want to see the people of the Church growing in their knowledge of God and in all holiness. I want to see us pressing on towards the mark together.”

Remarkably, with Kells village having doubled in size over the last 15 years, John is also looking forward to reaching out with his congregation with the gospel message.

He looks forward to having fellowship with the other ministers in the area and who knows, perhaps seeing God moving mightily again as in 1859.

In his spare time, he likes to go out for walks with Janet and enjoys reading and keeping an eye on the fortunes of Manchester United and Crusaders FC. But he stresses that it’s only a glance for there is much work to be done and the labourers are few.

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“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” Titus 2:11