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Former Dallas lawyer's installation as president of the Methodist Church in Ireland will be live streamed

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Role: Rev Dr Tom McKnight

Role: Rev Dr Tom McKnight

Role: Rev Dr Tom McKnight

A former Dallas oil company lawyer will be installed as the incoming President of the Methodist Church in Ireland on June 10.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the ceremony will be available to live stream and will include - via video conferencing - representatives from the worldwide Methodist family and from sister churches in Ireland.

During the same ceremony, Hazel Loney will be installed as the Lay Leader of the Methodist Conference in succession to Lynda Neilands.

Rev Dr Tom McKnight, who was born and brought up in Dallas, Texas, is currently minister of Donaghadee Methodist Church.

He was educated in Oklahoma and worked originally as a lawyer for an oil company in Houston before deciding to become a minister and enrolling in a theological seminary in Kentucky.

As part of his study he came to Northern Ireland in 1981 for a one-year internship. However, he met Elizabeth Bell, a building society manager from Newtownards, and they were married in 1982. They have two grown-up daughters, Beth and Katherine.

Mrs Loney, the incoming Methodist Lay Leader, was born and brought up in Co Armagh.

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She and her husband Bobby, an ordained minister, were married in 1976.

They have two grown-up children, Christopher and Rachel-Anne, and two grandchildren, Claire and Andrew.

This year's Methodist Conference, which was due to take place in Lisburn in June, was postponed due to the pandemic, and - circumstances permitting - it has been rescheduled for October 7-11.

Methodist press officer Rev Roy Cooper said: "Due to the pandemic, the installation of the new President will differ from all previous conferences, and details of this will be discussed by the Church's General Committee by videolink later this week."

Ministers will also meet via videolink on June 20 to deal with any urgent business, so that the work of the Church can go ahead over the summer."

Last week the Presbyterian Church announced that the incoming Moderator, Rev David Bruce, will be installed in an online ceremony in the Assembly Building on June 1.

The Church of Ireland, which cancelled its General Synod scheduled for Croke Park, Dublin earlier this month, will hold an installation service for the new Archbishop of Armagh and Primate, the Most Rev John McDowell, at a later date in St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh.

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