The Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) announces the names of four ministers up for Moderator for 2019/2020. The denomination’s 19 Presbyteries will meet on Tuesday 5th February 2019 to consider and elect from these nominees.
The ministers who have agreed to have their names go forward to become PCI’s next principal public representative are –
Rev David Bruce, Secretary to the Council for Mission in Ireland,
Rev William Henry of Maze Presbyterian Church,
Rev Albin Rankin of Stormont Presbyterian,
Rev Mairisíne Stanfield, minister of First Presbyterian Church, Bangor.
Rev Trevor Gribben, Clerk of the General Assembly and General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland explained that in the Presbyterian system of church government each presbytery consists of ministers and elders who are drawn from local congregations in a particular area. As a court of the church each presbytery is responsible for overseeing those congregations in its local area while undertaking other important tasks, which includes the annual selection of the new Moderator. He said,
“The first Tuesday in February is always a significant day for Presbyterians across Ireland, as ministers and elders from our 500-plus congregations come together in their respective presbyteries, in different parts of the country, to prayerfully consider and select their nominee to be our next Moderator.”
The 19 Presbyteries will select from the names of the four ministers up for Moderator
He went on to say, “This democratic process will see the Church choose from the four candidates. Any of these candidates may be proposed, seconded and voted on in a presbytery. If more than one candidate is proposed and seconded the presbytery will continue to vote until one candidate has received the majority support of those voting. That candidate then becomes the person whom that presbytery has registered their vote for. The minister who receives the most presbytery votes in total becomes our Moderator-Designate, until they are formally elected Moderator by the General Assembly in June.”
The result is usually announced around 9pm on the Tuesday evening, but should there be a tie on the first count, which last happened in 2014, presbyteries will continue to meet that evening and vote until one minister is clearly ahead.
As the denomination’s principal public representative the Presbyterian Moderator will have a busy year. Having ‘moderated’ or chaired the General Assembly, the Moderator will then step aside from their own congregation to preach most Sundays – often twice in different congregations – undertake an overseas tour, chair a number of the Church’s councils and represent the denomination at various public and State events.
On average a Moderator will undertake over 300 engagements during the course of their year in office. These also include travelling across Ireland to encourage local churches in their work and witness during four week-long presbytery tours. These take place in October, November, February and March.
“The role of Moderator is a particularly challenging one, often made more so by the circumstances that may arise during any particular year. Whoever is elected is deserving of our prayers as they lead us through the latter half of this year and into 2020. Playing an important role in the life and ministry of our Church across Ireland and further afield, I look forward to working with our new Moderator in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Mr Gribben said.
The General Assembly will take place in Belfast from the evening of Monday 3rd to Friday 7th June 2019. The new Moderator will succeed Rt Rev Dr Charles McMullen, who will continue to serve as Moderator until the opening night of the General Assembly.
Read more PCI news on their website here.