The ministers, who are from congregations in counties – Antrim, Armagh and Down – are Rev. Brian Boyd of Kells and Eskylane, Rev. Tony Davidson of First Armagh Presbyterian Church, Rev. Charles McMullen of Bangor West and Rev. Noble McNeely of First Holywood Presbyterian Church.
Looking forward to this stage in the annual process, Rev. Trevor Gribben, Clerk of the General Assembly and General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland said, “The first Tuesday in February is always an important day in the life of our Church, as ministers and elders from our 539 congregations from Bushmills in County Antrim, to Aghada in County Cork, meet in their respective Presbyteries to nominate our next Moderator.
“Our constitution clearly states that ‘The Lord Jesus Christ is the sole King and Head of the Church…’ so as a denomination the Moderator is not the ‘head of the church’, but our most senior office bearer and principal public representative. As such he or she plays an important role in the life and ministry of the Church across Ireland and further afield.”
Mr Gribben explained that the vote in each Presbytery is by simple majority. This means that whoever receives the most votes within a particular Presbytery – which are local regional church bodies that are made up of a minister and an elder from each congregation in that particular area - receives the single vote of that Presbytery. The person who receives the majority of these votes from the 19 Presbyteries becomes Moderator-Designate and is formally nominated to the General Assembly in June.
While a relatively straightforward process, if there is a tie in the number of Presbytery votes received on the first count, which has happened four times in the last 16 years – most recently in 2014 when there was a three-way tie – Presbyteries will continue to meet that night until one minister is clearly ahead.
“As I’ve often said, democracy is one of the strengths and hallmarks of Presbyterianism. We will know who our new Moderator is around 9 O’clock that evening and I look forward to working with him in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Mr Gribben concluded.
Rev. Brian Boyd B.Sc., B.D.
Brian Boyd has been minister of Kells and Eskylane since 1992. Born in 1959, he was ordained as assistant in High Kirk Presbyterian, Ballymena in 1986 and installed two years later a minister of Culnady and Swatragh. He convened the Alcohol and Drug Education Committee from 1997 to 2000.
Rev. Tony Davidson B.A. (Q.U.B.), B.D. (Aber.)
Currently the minister of First Armagh Presbyterian Church, Tony Davidson was born in 1957. He was ordained as assistant minister in Stormont and installed as minister of Christ Church, Limerick in 1986, moving to First Armagh in 1994. Tony was convener of the Irish Church Relations Committee from 1995 to 2002, Inter-Church Relations Board from 2002 to 2004, Church Relations Committee 2004 to 2007 and Nomination Committee from 2014 to 2016.
Rev. Charles McMullen, M.A., M. Litt., B.D.
Charles McMullen was ordained as assistant minister in Harmony Hill, Lisburn, in 1988 and was installed as minister of Legacurry Presbyterian Church in 1991. Born in 1960, he has been minister of West Church, Bangor since 1999. Charles convened the Magee Fund Scheme Committee from 1993 to 2000, National and International Problems Committee from 1993 to 1997 and Global Concerns Committee from 2005 to 2010.
Rev. Noble McNeely, B.Ed., B.D.
Noble McNeely was born in 1954. Ordained as assistant Minister in 1982 in Fisherwick Presbyterian Church in Belfast, he was installed in First Ballymoney in 1984 where he ministered for 13 years before being called to First Holywood in 1997, where he is the current minister. He convened the Youth Education and Mission Committee from 1990 to 1994, City Area Committee from 1996 to 1998, Ministerial Studies and Development Committee from 2007 to 2010, Board of Christian Training from 2010 to 2014 and the Council for Training in Ministry from 2015 to 2016.