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New Presbyterian Church Moderator David Bruce will take office online

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Event: Rev David Bruce

Event: Rev David Bruce

Event: Rev David Bruce

The next head of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland will take office at a special ceremony streamed live on the internet.

Rev David Bruce will be installed as Moderator at Assembly Buildings in Belfast on June 1.

Normally the event is attended by hundreds of guests. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year just a handful of people will be present.

The installation will take place on what would have been the opening night of this year's General Assembly.

The annual meeting was cancelled last month due to the Covid-19 emergency, but this year's installation will be broadcast online. A link to the livestream will be made available on the PCI website.

The Clerk of the General Assembly, Rev Trevor Gribben, said: "This is always a special moment in the life of our Church and for our new Moderator and their family.

"This year, by necessity, it will also be a different kind of ceremony for a particularly unique time in our history.

"We very much hope that many will join us by watching the livestream on the night."

A small standing commission of the General Assembly has been appointed to oversee urgent business, including the installation of the new Moderator.

Traditionally the service would have been attended by upwards of 900 people from across Ireland, including past moderators, civic dignitaries and representatives from other churches across Europe, Africa and Asia.

This year, apart from technical support, only four people will be physically present - the outgoing Moderator, Rt Rev Dr William Henry; Moderator-Designate, Rev David Bruce; Rev Gribben; and the Deputy Clerk of the General Assembly, Rev Jim Stothers.

Other people will be participating remotely in the livestream from the Assembly Hall, leading in prayer and praise and reading from the Scriptures.

Also taking part, but remotely via a video conferencing platform, will be the members of the 2020 Standing Commission, which has been set up to conduct all necessary business of this year's Assembly.

Rev Gribben said: "If we think back to that cold winter's evening of February 4, when our Church's 19 regional Presbyteries met and nominated David Bruce as our next Moderator, who would have thought that so many of the things that we have taken for granted would have changed so much in such a short space of time?

"As I have said before, our General Assembly has been part of the rhythm of our Church life since 1840.

"It is the Presbyterian family coming together, and as far as I am aware a meeting has never been cancelled, only postponed, due to a different kind of national emergency in 1940."

Rev Gribben continued: "Yet, unprecedented times often call for unprecedented responses, and like many organisations, we have found it necessary to find different ways of working to do what needs to be done, and this includes the installation of our new Moderator."

Rev Gribben explained that those present in the Assembly Hall would follow all appropriate health and safety precautions.

Rev Bruce is the 175th person to hold the office of Moderator.

From Banbridge, he is the secretary to the Church's Council for Mission in Ireland and is the first to hold the position from outside parish ministry in more than 20 years.

Belfast Telegraph