The Venerable David Huss is Church of Ireland Archdeacon of Raphoe and rector of a group of parishes in Co Donegal.
Q Can you tell us something about your background?
A I am 44 years old and the younger son of Brian and Barbara Huss, from Lisburn. My brother is called Richard and my father is a retired anaesthetist. I grew up in Belfast and Lisburn, where I attended Wallace Prep School and Wallace High School. I studied at Oxford twice - in the 1990s, I read physics, then in the 2000s I read theology. My wife, Beverly, is from Dorset and she is a GP. We have three sons. Before ordination, I taught physics in a secondary school in England for five years. I was ordained in the Church of England and served there for a few years before we found our way back to Ireland, this time to Co Donegal. I became rector of a Donegal group of parishes in 2011 and, in 2013, I also became Archdeacon of Raphoe (in the Church of Ireland an Archdeacon is a kind of middle manager, assisting the Bishop in his/her administration of the diocese).
Q How and when did you come to faith?
A My parents ensured I was baptised in our local parish and later I was sent along to Sunday School. I am very grateful for those early inputs, but my faith did not really begin to stir until I was in secondary school. Two things were decisive: first, at the age of 11, I received a New Testament from the Gideons. I began reading it and Jesus started to become real to me through the pages of the Gospels. Secondly, at the age of 14, I attended Confirmation classes at our church, Lisburn Cathedral. The wonderful Mavis Gibbons taught us about Jesus: His love, His life, death and resurrection and His call to repent and believe in Him. A few weeks before my Confirmation, I knelt down and asked Jesus to come into my life and make me a new person. I believe He answered that prayer.
As a clergyman, I am busy every day with Christian things and there is always the danger of faith becoming a 'professional' thing, rather than personal. I need to make sure I stay close to the Lord every day for my own sake, not just because a sermon needs to be prepared, or a visit needs to be done.
Q Have you ever had a crisis of faith, or a gnawing doubt about your faith?
A I haven't had a major crisis of faith, but as a physics student and physics teacher, I often thought about whether science and Christianity were contradictory, or complementary. I was greatly helped by fellow students, teachers and colleagues who found science and religion enhanced one another. That is what I have found, too.
Q Have you ever been angry with God? And, if so, why?
A I am frustrated when I see the pain and injustice in the world and it leads me to cry out to God for His intervention. Hopefully, this is in the spirit of the psalmists and prophets, who similarly called on God to act, at times quite impatiently. Unfortunately, there are times when I have impetuously accused God of not caring about me. That's not good.
Q Do you ever get criticised for your faith? Are you able to live with criticism?
A Occasionally, people take issue with my particular understanding of Christianity, or with the decisions I make as a leader. That's just part of being a Christian and a minister. I try to discern if there is a grain of truth in the criticism - often there is. Then I hand the whole thing over to God and keep doing what I believe to be right.
Q Are you ever ashamed of your own Church?
A There are plenty of instances when the Church of Ireland has lacked creativity, urgency, truthfulness, compassion, faithfulness, courage, openness and love. We have made a fair number of mistakes over the past 1,500 years. But I am part of the problem, too. It's a Church made up of sinners and the only answer is constant repentance and prayer for more grace.
Q Are you afraid to die? Or can you look beyond death?
A I am not afraid of death. For a Christian, it means going to be with Christ, which is better by far. However, I don't relish the process of dying and I enjoy life very much, so I hope the Lord leaves me in this world for a while longer.
Q Are you afraid of Hell?
A I believe in Hell and, indeed, Jesus' preaching about it in the Gospels was part of my journey to faith. I believe he was motivated by compassion when he warned people about it. The good news it that, through faith in Christ, we can escape this fate and instead receive eternal life.
Q Do you believe in a resurrection? And, if so, what will it be like?
A Yes, I do. It seems that we will have bodies like Jesus' resurrection body - the same body as before, but perfected and made new. The details are hazy, but it sounds great.
Q What do you think about people of other denominations and other faiths?
A I have so many friends who belong to other denominations and other faiths and I always enjoy talking to them about the similarities and differences in our world views. I'm not ashamed of my own faith and I always seek to share it, as gently and respectfully as I can.
Q Would you be comfortable in stepping out from your own faith and trying to learn something from other people?
A Yes, I always want to learn as much as I can from whomever I can. The moment we stop learning, we are finished. A Christian should always be open to new insights and they will always filter those things through Jesus Christ: "Test everything; hold fast what is good" (1 Thess 5:21).
Q Do you think that the Churches here are fulfilling their mission?
A Wonderful work is going on in some places to share Christ's love with local communities and to support God's work around the world. In other places, we have become inward-looking, boring and irrelevant.
Q Why are so many people turning their backs on organised religion?
A The growth of material prosperity and security has left many people feeling there is no point having faith in God and being part of a Christian community. The present coronavirus crisis may bring some people back to church, but it is too early to say.
Q Has religion helped, or hindered, the people of Northern Ireland?
A Both. Religion well applied has brought huge comfort in times of darkness and has inspired some of the greatest acts of reconciliation and love. Religion misapplied has locked many people in defensive, tribalistic thinking, which will take generations to change.
Q What is your favourite film, book and music?
A I don't watch many films, but I love books and music. I tend to prefer older books from the great preachers of the past: Augustine, Chrysostom, Luther, Tyndale, Spurgeon. These are often far livelier than modern writers.
For novels, I love Graham Greene, who takes you deep into the soul of his characters. I can happily lose myself in Tolkien, too. For music, anything from Bach to blues, as long as it has a tune and some harmony, rather than meandering or discordant stuff.
Q Where do you feel closest to God?
A Either in my study, with the Bible open in front of me, or else in a boat on Donegal Bay when the sun is shining and the wind is fresh.
Q What inscription would you like on your gravestone, if any?
A "Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).
Q Finally, have you any major regrets?
A We make so many mistakes in life, but I have learned to leave them in the past and to live without regrets - so far!