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Next Presbyterian Moderator: Four ministers in the running revealed

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Rev John Kirkpatrick

Rev John Kirkpatrick

Rt Rev Dr David Bruce

Rt Rev Dr David Bruce

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Rev John Kirkpatrick

The four ministers in the running to be the next Presbyterian Moderator have been revealed.

They will go before the church’s 19 regional presbyteries on February 1, when the next Moderator will be elected.

Last year Dr David Bruce became the first Moderator since 1894 to serve a second consecutive term — only his name was forwarded by presbyteries for formal consideration.

The four candidates this time are:

* Rev John Kirkpatrick, minister of Portrush Presbyterian Church.

* Rev Dr Colin McClure, minister of First Larne Presbyterian Church.

* Rev Dr Trevor McCormick, minister of First Kilrea Presbyterian Church and Boveedy.

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* And Rev Alastair McNeely, minister of Richhill Presbyterian Church.

The candidate receiving the support of most presbyteries will be formally elected as Moderator by the General Assembly on its opening night in June.

At the General Assembly, they will oversee the debates and put resolutions to the house to be decided on.

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Rev Dr Colin McClure

Rev Dr Colin McClure

Rev Dr Colin McClure

During the rest of the year, the Moderator acts as the principal public representative for the General Assembly and church.

Rev Trevor Gribben, the general secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, said: “In February 2020, when presbyteries ‘met normally’ and nominated David Bruce for what was to be his first term as Moderator, no one knew what was just around the corner, and how the pandemic would impact so much of our lives, including the process of electing our Moderator the following year.

“I genuinely give thanks to God, that the rhythm of our church life is gradually returning, and once more ministers and elders from our 500-plus congregations the length and breadth of this island can come together to prayerfully select a colleague to be nominated as our next Moderator.”

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Rev Alastair McNeely

Rev Alastair McNeely

Rev Alastair McNeely

The four candidates have served in churches across Northern Ireland.

Rev John Kirkpatrick has been minister of Portrush Presbyterian Church since 1993.

He was ordained assistant minister of Megain/Mersey St Presbyterian Churches, Belfast in 1985, before being installed as minister of Garryduff Presbyterian in 1987.

Rev Dr Colin McClure has been minister of First Larne Presbyterian Church since 2003. He was ordained assistant minister of Fisherwick Presbyterian Church, Belfast in 1990 and installed as minister of Loughbrickland and Scarva Presbyterian Churches in 1993.

He was convener of PCI’s Personnel-Planning Committee (2000-2004) and State Education Committee (2010-2014). He has been Clerk of the Presbytery of Carrickfergus since 2014.

Rev Dr Trevor McCormick was installed as minister of First Kilrea Presbyterian Church in 1986 and with Boveedy Presbyterian (Stated Supply) in 2009. He was ordained assistant minister of First Carrickfergus Presbyterian Church in 1984.

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Dr Trevor McCormick

Dr Trevor McCormick

Dr Trevor McCormick

Rev McCormick was convener of the Presbyterian Residential Trust Committee (1996-2003) and PCI’s Council for Social Witness (2015-2020). He has been Clerk of the Presbytery of Coleraine & Limavady since 2016.

Rev Alastair McNeely, meanwhile, was ordained assistant minister of Ebrington Presbyterian Church in 1991. He was called to Richhill Presbyterian Church in 1993, where he has served as minister for nearly 30 years.

Rev Gribben added: “Having been elected for a second term by the October 2021 General Assembly, Dr Bruce told us that he sincerely hoped that the extension of Moderatorial terms of service would not become ‘habit forming.’

“In sharing that hope, I look forward to working with whoever succeeds David this coming June, as they continue to serve the Lord Jesus Christ by taking on this important role in the life and ministry of PCI. As always, they will certainly be deserving of our prayers.”


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