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New Presbyterian moderator believes that bible 'interpretation' does not support women as church leaders

By Staff Reporter

The new moderator of the Presbyterian Church has spoken about his personal concerns about a women taking on the leadership role.

The comments from Rev Ian McNie  come after Rev Liz Hughes - one of four nominated for the role - was outvoted for a second year running.

Mr McNie is viewed as a conservative leader within the church and has described himself as a 'conservative evangelical'.   He will assume the role as moderator from Rev Michael Barry and will officially take up office on June 1.

The 64-year-old from Ballymoney, Co Antrim said that he shared a concern, along with many other people, and that was based on the interpretation of the Bible.

"Those who are not all that in favour, if you want to put it like that, of women's ordination don't hold that point of view from the position of personal preference," he told the BBC's Good Morning Ulster.

"They hold that position from the point of view that as they interpret the scriptures, the leadership role within the church is not necessarily the leadership role within society - that men and women complement each other, and consequently, possibly that's why many people have taken the view that they take and that's why the church has not embraced the election of a woman moderator.

"I would have a conviction that, like many other people within all major denominations, that there are some concerns about that issue, and yes, I would share that conviction as well."

However, Mr McNie stressed that the Presbyterian Church had pioneered the way in the ordination of women ministers while paying tribute to its first women minister Ruth Patterson as "a great ambassador for women within the church".

However, he has since said that if the church was to vote in a women moderator in the next few years, the church would have his "full and complete and utter support".

Mr McNie also said today in media interviews that while he would not preach at a Catholic church, he would fully engage in ecumenical matters and had attended Catholic funerals in the past.

Regarding his position on the proposed conscience clause legislation, he said that he believed that Ashers Bakery had the right to take the decision not to make a cake with gay marriage slogans  because of the religious convictions that they have.

He said: "The Equality Commission has gone over the top. Ashers Bakery had the right to take the decision that they took simply because of the convictions that they have.

"This goes back to the subject of tolerance, the definition of tolerance has changed considerably...we are supposed to accept as equally correct every view that is expressed.

"They should have the right to determine what they do as a bakery and they should be tolerated."

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