Faith Matters

Presbyterians prepare for Moderator vote

Assembly Buildings in Belfast, the headquarters of the Presbyterian Church. Picture by Hugh Russell

PRESBYTERIANS will meet next week to select their next Moderator, who will take up the role in June at the denomination's annual General Assembly.

Four men are on the shortlist which will go before the Church's 19 presbyteries - the name given to geographically linked groups of congregations - across Ireland on Tuesday February 1.

The nominees are: Rev John Kirkpatrick, minister of Portrush Presbyterian Church; Rev Dr Colin McClure, minister of First Larne Presbyterian Church; Rev Dr Trevor McCormick, minister of First Kilrea Presbyterian Church and Boveedy; and Rev Alastair McNeely, minister of Richhill Presbyterian Church.

The candidate who secures the most votes will become 'Moderator-Designate' and succeed Rev Dr David Bruce. By convention, Moderators serve a 12-month term in the role but the circumstances around the coronavirus pandemic meant that Dr Bruce became the first to serve two consecutive terms since the 19th century.

Rev Trevor Gribben, Clerk of the General Assembly and General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church, said that in February 2020, when presbyteries "met normally" and nominated Dr Bruce for his first term as Moderator, "no-one knew what was just around the corner, and how the pandemic would impact so much of our lives, including the process of electing our Moderator the following year".

"I genuinely give thanks to God, that the rhythm of our church life is gradually returning, and once more ministers and elders from our 500-plus congregations the length and breadth of this island can come together to prayerfully select a colleague to be nominated as our next Moderator,” Mr Gribben said.

"Having been elected for a second term by the October 2021 General Assembly, Dr Bruce told us that he sincerely hoped that the extension of Moderatorial terms of service would not become ‘habit forming.

" In sharing that hope, I look forward to working with whoever succeeds David this coming June, as they continue to serve the Lord Jesus Christ by taking on this important role in the life and ministry of PCI. As always, they will certainly be deserving of our prayers."

Rev John Kirkpatrick, minister of Portrush Presbyterian Church

Rev Dr Trevor McCormick, minister of First Kilrea Presbyterian Church and Boveedy

Rev Dr Colin McClure, minister of First Larne Presbyterian Church.

Rev Alastair McNeely, minister of Richhill Presbyterian Church

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