Belfast Telegraph

Presbyterian Church: PR role not a reaction to recent difficulties

Suspended: Laurence Kirkpatrick
Suspended: Laurence Kirkpatrick
Victoria Leonard

By Victoria Leonard

The Presbyterian Church has advertised for an official to help represent its position to policy makers and the media - but denies it is a response to recent controversies.

The public affairs officer role, which has a salary of between £31,892 and £38,870, features essential criteria including a "good knowledge of the political structures and processes in the NI Assembly and how they interact with those in the UK Parliament".

Applicants will also be responsible for "keeping up to date with political issues in NI and the Republic, analysing public policy and legislation from a Christian perspective, and assisting in representing the Church's position to policy makers and the media".

Other criteria includes a "basic grasp of the major public policy issues in the UK and Republic of Ireland and an understanding of biblical teaching on at least some of these issues".

It follows a series of controversies affecting the Presbyterian Church in recent months. In June the Presbyterian Church's General Assembly decided that same-sex partners could not receive communion, and their children could not be baptised in the Church.

More than 230 influential members of the Church later put their names to a letter criticising the ruling, which was headlined 'A Cry From The Heart'

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland also voted to sever its ties with the Church of Scotland because of the latter's more liberal attitude to same-sex relationships. It means the Moderator of the Church of Scotland's General Assembly would no longer be invited to the annual meeting of the Presbyterian General Assembly in Belfast.

Meanwhile, Queen's University revealed that it is reviewing "the nature of its relationship" with the Presbyterian-run Union Theological College, which teaches its degree courses in theology.

It is understood that a factor in the decision is the suspension of Professor of Church History Laurence Kirkpatrick.

He was believed to have been suspended from his college role due to comments he made in the media.

However, the Presbyterian Church said the job advert requirements are "not a response to anything recent" and the wording of the advert was "exactly the same as an advert for the same post which appeared four years ago".

It added: "The person who held this post has moved on and created a vacancy. The Church is advertising for someone to fill that vacancy in a routine manner. It is not a new post."

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