Rev J L Heaney, a native of Belfast, commenced his early education in the Methodist College and from there enrolled in the Engineering School at the Belfast College of Technology graduating as a Member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineering. He served in the Fleet Air Arm and whilst there he heard a definite call to the Ministry. From Queen’s University, Belfast he graduated as a Bachelor of Arts and later studied Theology at New College, Edinburgh. Finally after completing a B.D. degree at Queen’s University he served as assistant minister in Nelson Memorial and Bethany Presbyterian Churches, before completing five and a half years fruitful ministry in Hill Street, Lurgan. He was installed in Mountpottinger Presbyterian in 1962.
A remarkable transformation in the appearance of the Church front took place in 1964 with the installation of the Helen Anderson McKee Memorial windows which were dedicated on Sunday 7th June 1964. Mr Heaney and his wife Mary established “The Church Holiday” and many of the congregation spent their summer holidays in Dawlish and Bournemouth in the South of England. These holidays provided a very enjoyable time of fellowship for young and old alike. Lawn bowls on The Green in Dawlish and trips downhill to the ice-cream shop with Mr Heaney and his father-in-law, Mr Ritchie, leading the children became summer traditions which hold fond memories.
The addition of the McKee Hall, opened in 1980 was another milestone under the leadership of Mr Heaney and has been a valuable asset to the congregation down through the years. The introduction of a digital piano during the latter part of his ministry was a giant step in modernising the Sunday morning worship and showed his forward thinking. Upon his retirement the congregation were delighted that he agreed to stay on as Senior Minister. His retirement was to be tinged with sadness with the untimely death of Mrs Heaney in March 1992. His guidance to those who followed in his footsteps was always much appreciated. The congregation felt an immense sense of loss upon his passing on 30 October 2003.