Local minister on shortlist to become next Presbyterian Moderator

Rev William Henry from Maze Presbyterian Church.
Rev William Henry from Maze Presbyterian Church.

The minister of Maze Presbyterian Church, Rev William Henry, is in the running to be elected Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland for 2018/2019.

Rev Henry is one of three ministers on this year’s shortlist, which will be considered by the Church’s presbyteries on Tuesday, February 6.

Rev Henry was ordained as assistant in Whiteabbey Presbyterian Church in 1994 and installed as the minister of Maze Presbyterian in 1997 - and with Ballinderry (Stated Supply) in 2001 - in Dromore Presbytery.

Born in 1968, he was convener of the Home and Irish Mission/Strategy for the Mission Committee 2006-2012 and Union Commission 2012˗2015. He convenes its successor body, the Linkage Commission, which acts on behalf of the General Assembly in allocating ordained ministry and related financial resources to congregations.

The two other ministers on this year’s shortlist are Rev Brian Boyd of Kells and Eskylane Presbyterian Church and Rev Charles McMullen of Bangor West.

Explaining the election process, Rev Trevor Gribben, Clerk of the General Assembly and General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, said that the Church’s 19 presbyteries will meet at different locations around Ireland to prayerfully consider the three names on the shortlist and select the next Moderator.

“There is a wonderful rhythm to the life of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the first Tuesday in February is the first key event of the year for us, as ministers and elders from our 535 congregations across Ireland meet in their respective presbyteries to nominate our next Moderator,” he said.

“The vote in each presbytery is by simple majority. This means that whoever receives the most votes within a particular presbytery receives the single vote of that presbytery. The minister who receives the majority of these votes from the 19 presbyteries, becomes our Moderator-Designate until their formal nomination and election as Moderator by the General Assembly in June,” Mr Gribben added.

Should there be a tie in the number of presbytery votes received on the first count, which happened in 2014, presbyteries will continue to meet that night until one minister is clearly ahead.

Having chaired or ‘moderated’ June’s week-long General Assembly, the new Moderator will have a busy year preaching most Sundays in congregations across Ireland, encouraging them in their work and witness during three week-long presbytery tours, while undertaking an overseas tour. The Moderator will also chair a number of the Church’s councils and represent the denomination at various public and State events.

But as Rev Gribben explained, the Moderator will not be the head of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland: “Our constitution clearly states that ‘The Lord Jesus Christ is the sole King and Head of the Church…’ so the Moderator, whoever they are, is not the ‘head of the church’, but our most senior office bearer and principal public representative.

“As such they play an important role in the life and ministry of the Church across Ireland and further afield and I look forward to working with our new Moderator in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.