Rev Kenny Hanna from Dromara named as first Rural Chaplain

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland meeting in Belfast from across the all-Ireland denomination’s 500-plus congregations has welcomed the anticipated launch of PCI’s new Rural Chaplaincy Pilot Scheme

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 2:57 pm
The Convener of the Council for Mission in Ireland Very Rev Dr Frank Sellar, Acting Council Secretary, Rev Jim Stothers and PCI's Chaplaincy Secretary, Rev Robert Bell, with PCI's new rural chaplain Rev Kenny Hanna.
The Convener of the Council for Mission in Ireland Very Rev Dr Frank Sellar, Acting Council Secretary, Rev Jim Stothers and PCI's Chaplaincy Secretary, Rev Robert Bell, with PCI's new rural chaplain Rev Kenny Hanna.

The General Assembly also heard that Rev Kenny Hanna, minister of Second Dromara Presbyterian Church in County Down, had been appointed to the post.

The Scheme, which will be for an initial three year period, has been developed by the Church’s Council for Mission in Ireland, which provides operational management and support to PCI’s Home Mission, Irish Mission, deaconesses and centrally managed mission projects of the Church. It also supports the provision of a chaplaincy service in universities and colleges, the healthcare system, the prison service and the armed forces.

The Pilot Scheme will cover four of PCI’s nineteen regional presbyteries, the Presbyteries of Down, Iveagh, Newry and Armagh, which includes most of County Down and all of County Armagh.

The main function of the new chaplain, a post which was advertised during the summer, will be to provide a chaplaincy service to the rural, especially farming communities, in the four presbyteries, which includes prioritising the pastoral and spiritual needs associated with geographical isolation and social isolation of those working in the agri-sector.

Speaking about his appointment and his upcoming new role, Mr Hanna said, “I have been minister in Second Dromara Presbyterian Church for over 10 years. This has been a long and warm relationship which makes leaving difficult, as we will miss our church family, and the wider community, who have made us feel so at home, in this beautiful part of County Down.

“As I embark on a new adventure with Jesus, serving Him as Rural Chaplain, I am very grateful for this opportunity and so thankful to God for His call to me, a farmer’s son and part-time farmer from the Mournes, to serve Him in this way.”

Mr Hanna said that an important part of his new role will be to visit local churches across the four presbyteries, some 70 individual congregations and linkages in the denomination. He also stressed that he would not be working in competition with local churches, but rather in close partnership with them.

“I hope to encourage presbyteries, local congregations, ministers and Christians in the good gospel work they are doing, cast a vision for rural chaplaincy, and encourage prayer for the work across our rural communities. I am both excited about the many possibilities and nervous at the mammoth size of the challenge ahead.

Mr Hanna concluded by saying, “What gives me great hope, however, is that Jesus, my Good Shepherd, promises to go ahead of His sheep, to save us, lead us and guide us (John 10:27). I look forward to pointing others to the blessings of life in Him. As a minister of rural congregations for 20 years, I passionately believe that the local church is God’s way of reaching communities for Christ and so I hope I can support what is already happening and help seed new gospel work that local congregations can take ownership of.”