Presbyterians in Donegal ‘want full-time ministers’
The Presbyterian Church has told two congregations across the border that they are not being abandoned — even though they have been without a minister for months.
The congregations in Dunfanaghy-Carrigart and Carndonagh-Malin in north Donegal have described as “a worrying trend” the refusal of church headquarters in Belfast to appoint full-time ministers to fill vacancies.
The situation arose when Rev Jim Lamont retired from Carrigart-Dunfanaghy, and Rev David Hagan was moved to Clontibret in Co Monaghan.
An assistant minister was sent to Carrigart-Dunfanaghy over the summer when holiday-makers flock to the area, but congregations feel they are stranded for the rest of the year.
The Church's Union Commission, which has the final say in such decisions has made it clear they will not be replaced, at least not on a full-time basis and new ways of serving the congregations are being considered.
Rev Stanley Stewart, Clerk of the Presbytery in Derry and Donegal, said that while he appreciated the church is working towards a solution, he was disappointed the Union Commission did not agree to a requests to a full-time minister for the congregations.
He added: “It seems to be a case of financial resources, but it is essential that the work of Jim Lamont and David Hagan is continued in north Donegal, and we believe the best way forward is with full-time ministers to lead us into the new Ireland.”
A Church spokesman in Belfast said: “These ministries will continue, and there certainly isn't a blanket policy of withdrawing ministers.”