Made up of 32 congregations of just under 4,000 members, the presbytery - which is one of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland's (PCI) 19 regional supervisory church bodies - covers 24 counties from Kerry and Cork in the south-west sweeping up and across to the border counties of Leitrim, Cavan and Louth in the north.
The Presbytery Tour will include visits to schools, sheltered accommodation for older people and residential homes for people with a disability. Dr. McNeely will also visit nine congregations, primarily in the south-east of the country.
“This will be my third and final Presbytery Tour as Moderator and Florence and I are looking forward to spending a week with colleagues and seeing the great work that they are doing in the name of Jesus in the communities where God has called them to serve and encouraging them in that service.
“Unlike my predecessor, Dr. Sellar, I have never had the opportunity to serve the Church in the Republic of Ireland, although in the 1970s I was involved in some evangelistic outreach in the Carlow and Athy area. I recognise now that some of what I learned in terms of how to relate to people and how to share the gospel was in fact an important part of my preparation for what was to follow in my 35 years of ministry.
“Each of our 535 congregations across Ireland have their unique characteristics and I look forward to discovering how our ministers and their congregations are impacting their local communities. I want to encourage our ministers in their work as they often minister in isolated situations.”
Dr. McNeely will preach twice on Sunday morning, first in Malahide Presbyterian and then in Howth Presbyterian, which is a joint charge in County Dublin. That evening he will preach in Greystones, County Wicklow. On the final Sunday of the tour he will revisit the county preaching in Arklow Presbyterian and then at St. Andrews, Blackrock, Dublin.
During the week he will visit the joint charges of Enniscorthy and Wexford and Athy and Carlow, while in Dublin he will visit Abbey Presbyterian and Adelaide Road Presbyterian to see the work that they are doing. He will also visit Maynooth Presbyterian, one of PCI’s newest congregations, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in November.
The President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, Rev. Dr. Laurence Graham, will join the Moderator on a visit to his church’s Dublin nursing home, Mount Tabor. Dr. McNeely will also see Tritonville Close, PCI’s sheltered accommodation complex for 40 older people in the Sandymount area of the city and Peacehaven Trust’s residential accommodation for people with a disability. He will also visit Clontarf School.
“During my visit I will be interested in seeing how the members are engaged as ‘Everyday Disciples’ of our Lord Jesus Christ in the increasing secular society and how community relations have developed in their towns and villages, Dr. McNeely said.
Referencing the World Meeting of Families in August, which is being hosted by the Roman Catholic Church, he said that he would be interested to see if there were ways in which local Presbyterian congregations could highlight PCI’s commitment to family ministry and the support of families in a changing world.
“As I said with my fellow Irish church leaders in our New Year Message, it is important that we explore how we can celebrate the importance of families to our churches and the wider community, as we recognise that our pastoral care of the family is an essential part of our contribution to society. I look forward to doing that next week.”
Clerk of the Presbytery of Dublin and Munster, Stuart Ferguson, who attends Adelaide Road Presbyterian Church in Dublin said that he was looking forward to the visit. “Our Presbytery is the Church’s largest geographically and last hosted a Presbytery Tour in 2011, so we are very much looking forward to welcoming Dr. McNeely and Florence.
“Their visit also comes at the time of the annual election for our Moderator, which traditionally takes place on the first Tuesday in February, when all of the 19 presbyteries meet at different locations across Ireland to elect his successor. Ministers and elders from each of our congregations in the Dublin and Munster Presbytery will gather in our newly refurbished Lucan Centre in County Dublin, where Dr. McNeely will lead the opening prayers and devotions.”
As part of his Presbytery Tour, on 7th February Dr. McNeely visited President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin, the official home of the President in Dublin.
If you would like to attend any of our congregations mentioned, you can find contact details for them and all our congregations in the Find a Church section here.