Belfast Telegraph

Noble McNeely chosen to lead Presbyterian Church

By Alf McCreary

The next Moderator of the Presbyterian Church is a Spurs fan who believes sport can be used to reach out to non-Christians.

Reverend Noble McNeely, the minister of First Holywood Presbyterian Church in Co Down, will be officially installed as the next leader on June 5.

He will replace the Rt Reverend Dr Frank Sellar.

Rev McNeely won a decisive victory, taking 10 of the votes from the 19 Presbyteries in Ireland.

The runners-up were Rev Charles McMullen of Bangor West with four votes, Rev Brian Boyd of Kells and Eskylane with three, and Rev Tony Davidson of First Armagh with two.

In a statement issued shortly after his election, Mr McNeely said he was "sincerely humbled". "This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and during my year of office I hope that I can emphasise and preach on some of the great principles and doctrines of the Reformation," he noted.

A passionate supporter of Tottenham Hotspur, he added: "A big influence on my call to ministry has involved youth work and evangelism, and I have used sport as a means of reaching people for Christ.

"I've had some experience of chaplaincy in sport, and I believe that this is a great avenue for evangelism to young people."

Rev McNeely has been minister of First Holywood since 1997, where he has a congregation of some 380 families and nearly 900 people.

"Holywood has a good community spirit, and our congregation has contributed widely to good community relations," he said.

Rev McNeely, who is 63, was born in Belfast and obtained a degree in education at Stranmillis College, where he specialised in jewellery and silversmithing.

After taking a Bachelor of Divinity at Union Theological College, he was ordained in 1982 as assistant minister at Fisherwick in Belfast, and in 1984 he became minister of First Ballymoney, where he served for 13 years.

He is married to Florence, a physiotherapist, and they have three adult children.

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