A south Belfast-raised cleric has been chosen to become the next Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
Rev Richard Murray, the minister of Drumreagh Presbyterian Church at Bendooragh, Co Antrim, was named Moderator-Designate at the Presbyterian Church’s annual gathering to elect its leader on Tuesday evening.
The 58-year-old will replace current Moderator, Rev Dr Sam Mawhinney, at the church’s General Assembly in Belfast in June.
Last year Dr Mawhinney, who was based at Adelaide Road Presbyterian Church in Dublin, became the first minister of a congregation in the Republic to be elected Moderator of the all-island denomination in over two decades.
Rev Murray, who was one of six nominees for the role, will become the 179th Moderator since the Presbyterian Church in Ireland was established in 1840.
He said he felt “humbled to be called to this office”, adding: “I will endeavour to represent the Church and the Lord to the best of my ability. My desire is to be committed to the Word of God in everything and my request is that people remember me in prayer throughout my year in office.”
Rev Murray grew up in the Finaghy area of south Belfast, and attended Lisburn’s Wallace High School and later Queen’s University.
He went on to study at the Presbyterian Church’s Union Theological College in Belfast, and later served at churches including Finaghy’s Lowe Memorial, Terrace Row in Coleraine, and Connor Presbyterian in Ballymena.
He has been a minister at Drumreagh and Dromore Presbyterian Churches, which amalgamated last year and have a congregation of around 850 people, since 2016.
“I will feel keenly the loss of weekly fellowship in Drumreagh, as I step aside from June for the following 12 months,” he said.
“However, I recognise this as a call of God and go forward in faith believing that the Lord Himself will be my rear guard.”