Tom Clarke is chairman of Bangor Worldwide Missionary Convention. Last year it raised £144,000, which was distributed to over 150 mission agencies around the world. He is married to Mawreath and the couple have two daughters, Mary and Joy, and one grandson, 18-month-old Jed.
Q. Can you tell us something about your background?
A. I am 69 and I have lived in Bangor all my life, apart from six years at university in Edinburgh. I am married to Mawreath and we have two daughters, Mary and Joy. Mary has one son, Jed, who is 18 months old, making me a grandad.
I qualified as a professional town planner and was employed as such by the Northern Ireland Civil Service for 36 years before taking early retirement in 2011.
I have been the chairman of the organising committee of Bangor Worldwide Missionary Convention since September 2007 and I served on the committee for three years before that.
Founded in 1937 by Herbert Mateer, the convention has continued without a break as an annual event ever since to promote and support world mission.
It is interdenominational, international and evangelical. Its basis of doctrine is that of Global Connections, the UK network for mission agencies across the world.
Over the years, as well as a week of events in Bangor, we have branched out to have regional events in Magherafelt, Lurgan and Belfast.
This year, because of coronavirus, we are adapting the presentation of our convention, which was planned for August 21-30, for transmission over the internet.
Q. How and when did you come to faith?
A. I grew up in a family committed to church life and I came to faith at a Boys' Brigade Bible class in May 1965.
My faith is an everyday reality for me and has its focus on Sundays. I attend Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church in Bangor, where I serve on the Kirk Session as Clerk of Session.
Q. Have you ever had a crisis of faith or a gnawing doubt about your faith?
A. No. I regularly encounter situations which I do not fully understand, but I accept that God is in control and I rest content in that knowledge.
Q. Have you ever been angry with God? And, if so, why?
A. No. My previous answer applies here as well.
Q. Do you ever get criticised for your faith? And are you able to live with that criticism?
A. Not so much criticism, rather it is a case that faith is dismissed as irrelevant in today's world. This is frustrating, but it does not affect what I believe.
Q. Are you ever ashamed of your own church or denomination?
A. Ashamed is probably too strong a word, but there are times when I am disappointed by the Church's response (or silence) to the issues of the day. We have insights which the world needs to hear and sometimes we fail to take the opportunity when it presents itself.
Q. Are you afraid to die? Or can you look beyond death?
A. I do not fear death, because of the firm hope I have in what lies beyond and the joy I will experience then.
Q. Are you afraid of hell?
A. Hell is real, but it will be experienced by those who reject the Good News of the gospel and so I have no reason to fear it.
Q. Do you believe in a resurrection? And, if so, what will it be like?
A. I believe firmly in the resurrection, but I have a very incomplete understanding of what it will be like.
I know our souls will rise to Heaven and we will be given new bodies when Christ returns, but beyond that, I am unclear. This lack of clarity does not concern me.
Q. What do you think about people of other denominations and other faiths?
A. I see little difference between denominations within the Reformed tradition, as often these are more of emphasis rather than substance.
Outside of this group, I think we should respect those of other faiths, even though we understand these beliefs to be mistaken and we can admire the commitment which followers of other faiths often show to their beliefs, unless these are expressed in violence towards others.
Q. Would you be comfortable in stepping out from your own faith and trying to learn something from other people?
A. I think we can have dialogue with other faiths for the benefit of society and to ensure good neighbourliness, but I do not see much benefit in discussing details of actual beliefs.
Q. Do you think that the churches here are fulfilling their mission?
A. I think this is true, in part. Many are faithfully witnessing to their faith and seeking to reach out to others, but at times we get diverted into giving undue time and energy to more peripheral issues.
Q. Why are so many people turning their backs on organised religion?
A. Many people fail to see the relevance of religion to their everyday lives. This may be due to what they perceive the Church to be, or simply a rejection of the Church's message. However, there are also powerful forces at work in Western society seeking to advance a very secular agenda and to undermine the Church when it takes a stance which is counter to this.
Q. Has religion helped or hindered the people of Northern Ireland?
A. Generally, I feel that it has been a force for good down the years. It sought to advance the cause of peace and tolerance during the difficult times of the Troubles and undoubtedly had a restraining effect. It continues to speak to issues, such as changes to the abortion regulations, when it considers that society is taking a wrong turn, which ultimately it would have cause to regret.
Q. What is your favourite film, book and music?
A. I enjoy films which have a good storyline and relate to actual historical events, such as Chariots of Fire and Churchill. My favourite book is The Saints Everlasting Rest by the Puritan Richard Baxter, which I find is a treasure trove of truths for living. I get great joy from listening to Handel's Messiah.
Q. Where do you feel closest to God?
A. During my morning quiet times, when I take the opportunity to study the Bible and pray. It is a time when I am free from all other distractions and find it allows me to listen to God.
Q. What inscription would you like to have on your gravestone, if any?
A. I will leave that to others to decide and will trust in their good judgment.
Q. Finally, have you any regrets?
A. As I get older, I am more and more conscious of mistakes I have made in life and wish that I hadn't, but I would not go so far as to call them major regrets, rather the natural consequence of being a fallen human being.
You can tune in to Bangor Worldwide 2020 Convention between August 21-30 via the new website worldwide2020.org. Gary Millar, the principal of Queensland Theological College in Australia, will lead weekday Bible studies, which he will be recording from Brisbane. Other contributors will include Asaf Pelled, from Israel; Evie Craig, representing OMF International; Derek Maxwell, from the Slavic Gospel Association; Dr Florence Muindi, from Kenya, and Sam Oyirwoth, from Christianity Explored East Africa