Bangor minister ‘overwhelmed’ to be chosen as Presbyterian Moderator
The Presbyterian Church has chosen the Reverend Charles McMullen of West Church Bangor to be its next Moderator.
He will be installed at the opening night of the General Assembly in June, when he will succeed the Rt Rev Dr Noble McNeely.
Rev McMullen received nine of the Church's 19 Presbytery votes.
Rev Brian Boyd from Kells and Eskylane was second with six votes, and Rev William Henry from Maze and Ballinderry was third with four.
Rev McMullen said he was "overwhelmed" by last night's result.
"I commit myself to the Lord for His help and guidance over what I am sure will be an exciting, challenging and enriching year that lies ahead," he said.
"I know that I can draw on the prayers and good wishes of the entire Presbyterian denomination, and much further afield.
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"I hope that I can be involved in a ministry of building relationships and offering encouragement, both within the Presbyterian Church and with others as I reach out in Christ's name."
He said that one of the most important factors in his ministry was relationships.
"I include our relationship with God in Christ, our relationship with one another in Christian community, and the sense of building relationships as we share the love of Christ with outsiders," he explained.
As Moderator, Rev McMullen will preside over and represent the General Assembly at a time of great challenge and opportunity for all the Churches.
The Presbyterian Church, like others, is currently divided over same-sex marriage, and the General Assembly may re-visit its decision in June over whether or not to send the Moderator to the Scottish General Assembly.
The Irish Church has not sent a Moderator to Edinburgh for the past two years because of the Scots' more liberal views on same-sex issues. And in the Irish Republic, there will be a spring referendum to decide whether or not to make abortion more readily available, and the Presbyterians have already voiced their opposition to "abortion on demand".
Rev McMullen, who is 57, runs a lively ministry at West Church Bangor. It has around 1,100 families with some 2,700 members in its congregation, and there are four morning services each Sunday. Rev McMullen has been minister of West Church since 1999.
He was previously minister at Legacurry and assistant minister at Harmony Hill in Lisburn.
He is married to Barbara, and they have three adult children.