Belfast Telegraph

Alf McCreary: Good work going on being overshadowed by negativity around Irish Presbyterianism

Moderator Reverend Wiliam Henry
Moderator Reverend Wiliam Henry
Alf McCreary

By Alf McCreary

Next week's Presbyterian General Assembly will face important issues arising from Queen's University's recent decision to cut links with Union College, creating a possible shortfall of £250,000 by 2022 if no new income is found.

During the next academic year alone the Church will have to fund a more than £80,000 shortfall, but it is unlikely that this will be borne by the people in the pews.

However, the picture which is emerging is that of a college and a Church, headed by Moderator Reverend Wiliam Henry, deeply hurt by the Queen's decision, and trying to make the best of a not very good situation.

Another important discussion will be whether the General Assembly will reopen the controversial issue of stopping exchange visits between Irish and Scots Moderators.

The working links between the two Churches remain, but so does the hurt of many Presbyterians who regard last year's decision as a snub to the Scots and their Moderator.

Next week attention will also be focused on the other controversial decision last year to confirm the Presbyterian Church in Ireland's policy of not granting full membership to LGBT people or baptising their children.

Many LGBT and non-LGBT Presbyterians were hurt, not only by the decision itself, but by the perceived cold and clinical tone of the theological report that outlined the issues involved.

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The Church hierarchy and members will need to grapple with the challenge of issuing such edicts in a pastoral way which causes minimum hurt to those affected, and the General Assembly will be told of steps which are being undertaken in this area.

The General Assembly will cover many worthy issues and the good work of the Church at home and abroad, but much attention will still be given to those topics which have mired the Presbyterians in the controversial headlines of the past year.

The General Assembly will need strong and astute leadership in order to bring some of its good news to the fore.

Belfast Telegraph

From Belfast Telegraph