| 5.7°C Belfast

David Bruce elected Presbyterian Moderator by huge majority

Close

David Bruce, the next Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland

David Bruce, the next Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland

David Bruce, the next Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland

The Presbyterian Church has elected the Reverend David Bruce as its next Moderator.

He won by a substantial majority, taking 14 of the 19 votes from Presbyteries across Ireland last night.

He will take up his post at the Opening Night of the General Assembly on June 1, when the current Moderator, the Rt Rev William Henry leaves office.

It was the second attempt by Rev Bruce, who is Secretary to the Church's Council for Mission in Ireland, to become Moderator.

In last year's election he received four votes.

The unsuccessful candidates this year included Rev Richard Murray, from Drumreagh and Dromore Presbyterian Churches who received three votes.

Rev Dr Trevor McCormick of First Kilrea, and Rev Mairisine Stanfield of First Bangor each received one vote.

Rev Stanfield polled two fewer votes than last year when she was also a candidate.

This is the sixth time in the Presbyterian Church's long history when it did not elect a woman on the list of candidates.

The others were Rev Dr Ruth Patterson, who was the first female Presbyterian minister and the first woman to be ordained in Ireland, and Rev Dr Liz Hughes.

Both women, like Rev Stanfield, stood twice. The Presbyterian Church is the only major Reformed Church in Ireland not to have appointed a female leader.

Rev Bruce, who is 62, is the Church's 175th male Moderator since it was established in 1840, and the first in 20 years to have come from outside a parish ministry. He said last night: "With the UK having left the European Union last week and we enter a transition phase, a new set of political relationships will be formed, both on this island and beyond.

"As members of an all-Ireland Church, we will remain fully committed to our people and their witness on both sides of the Irish border."

He added: "The formation of the Northern Ireland Executive at Stormont, and Ireland's general election this week indicate the importance of careful conversations with politicians, something I will be keen to continue during my year of office."

He said that while the Church continues to face an overall statistical decline "this is not the story everywhere in Ireland, just as it is not the story of the Church around the world. The Church constantly needs to imagine how it is heard and seen by people who are not members".

Rev Bruce, an old boy of Campbell College, graduated from Queen's University in 1979, and was ordained in 1984. He then served in Ballymena and Dublin.

He is married to Zoe, a former teacher, and they have four adult children and a granddaughter.

A keen sailor he and his wife also enjoy touring in their ancient VW campervan.

Belfast Telegraph