Forty years ago, Pastor Billy McCurrie was an angry young man locked up in the Maze prison, Northern Ireland. Thirty years ago, he was changed. The avowed atheist and communist had become a Christian, keen to find out what God had in store for him.
Twenty years ago, he was appointed Pastor of Aughton Park Baptist Church in Ormskirk. In September, an anniversary celebration of this event took place.
Billy, originally from Belfast, was once part of an Ulster Volunteer Force gang during the Troubles. He had joined hoping to avenge the death of his father at the hands of the IRA in 1970.
Before long, the teenaged McCurrie became complicit in a murder. After being arrested, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
In prison, others spoke to him about the Bible. Upon hearing the account of the crucifixion on Christmas Eve, 1980, Billy came under conviction of sin and was converted to faith in Christ.
He recalled kneeling down, praying and experiencing the release of the bitterness and anger that had characterised his life. In their place, he felt forgiveness, peace and God’s love.
Billy grew as a Christian and entered the ministry. He and his wife, Roberta now live in Aughton. As well as pastoral ministry, Billy engages in open-air witnessing in Ormskirk market.
Reflecting on his twenty years at the church, 60-year-old Billy said, ‘I’ve had more good years than bad years at Aughton Park’. He intends to retire in five years’ time.
Befitting Billy’s own spiritual journey and experience of the Saviour, his sermon on the anniversary of his induction was taken from John 14 and entitled, ‘The only remedy for sin’.