The Moderator is the most senior office-bearer within the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
The Moderator is elected by the General Assembly, following nomination by the local Presbyteries, and serves for one year as the chief public representative of the denomination. The appointee's formal role involves acting as the Moderator (or Chairman) of the General Assembly, overseeing the debates and putting resolutions to the house to be decided on. During the rest of the year, the Moderator acts as the principal public representative for the General Assembly and Church as a whole.
The government of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has a form known as Presbyterian polity, and is much like that of other Presbyterian churches around the world. Individual churches are represented at both the Presbytery level and General Assembly level.
The serving Moderator is given the honorific style, Right Reverend (Rt. Rev.). Former Moderators are known as Very Reverend (Very Rev.). The Moderator is tenth in the order of precedence in Northern Ireland along with the two Church of Ireland and two Roman Catholic Archbishops.
Rev. Noble McNeely, minister of First Holywood Presbyterian Church, was elected to be the Moderator of the General Assembly for the year 2017-18. For more information about Mr. McNeely visit the news page.
Rt. Rev. Dr. Frank Sellar was formerly elected and installed as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland on 6th June 2016. Dr. Sellar is Minister of Bloomfield Presbyterian Church in east Belfast and is the 64th Moderator to come from the City.
Speaking about his selection in February, he said, “It has been a huge privilege to have been involved in a lifetime of leadership in local congregations, south and north. I’m humbled that the wider church has trusted me with this responsibility, granting fresh opportunities of mission, which this year as Moderator of the General Assembly will bring, not only serving the wider church, but society throughout the whole of Ireland and further afield.”
Married to Claire, who is an Occupational Therapist, the father of three was born in 1958, and was brought up in Coleraine. He was educated locally at The Hon The Irish Society School and Coleraine Academical Institution and attended New Row Presbyterian Church. His father was the well-known educationalist and artist, RG Sellar ARUA.
After completing his BA Hons degree at Lancaster University in Geography and Art in 1979, Dr. Sellar trained to be a teacher at Queen’s University, Belfast, gaining a PGCE in 1980.
He joined the staff of the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship in 1980 (now IFES Ireland) and served students for three years in the Republic of Ireland, before training for the Presbyterian ministry at Aberdeen University, where he graduated with a BD Hons in Systematic Theology and Church History in 1986. He completed a Masters of Ministry degree from the Presbyterian Theological Faculty Ireland in 2013.
After finishing his training at Union Theological College in Belfast, he was licensed in Ballycastle Presbyterian Church in 1987 and ordained Assistant Minister in Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church, Bangor, in 1988.
In 1990 Dr. Sellar was called to minister in Adelaide Road Presbyterian Church in the heart of Dublin city, where he served for 17 fruitful years. In 2007 the Sellars’ moved to Bloomfield Presbyterian Church, a large congregation of nearly 500 famiies, strategically placed in CS Lewis and Van Morrison territory at the corner of Beersbridge Road and Cyprus Avenue.
Describing his ministry as Gospel driven, ‘Based on the Bible, passionate about people and centred in Christ’; he said, “at Bloomfield we seek to ‘Know Jesus and Share His love’ and try to do that in a whole variety of ways, making available all the activities which go on in church to people of all backgrounds within the community.
“Jesus is the antidote to all the bad news which is so prevalent in a broken society. Church is not for those who think that they are now ‘good enough’, but for people who know that they are not, but recognise their need of a Saviour who can make them whole.”
Dr. Sellar’s passion for people has encouraged his congregation to actively engage with their local community centre, by leading summer schemes, homework clubs, Sunday kid’s work and through a youth club designed specifically for children with autism and severe learning difficulties. This facility also provides much needed support for their caring parents.
Having ministered in the south for 20 years and 11 years in the north, Dr. Sellar has the vision that the Presbyterian Church in Ireland serve as a vibrant Reformed witness throughout every province in the island that is welcoming to all, irrespective of background, culture or ethnicity.
“I am looking forward to my year as Moderator, especially as it coincides with the General Assembly theme for 2016 which is ‘A Community of global concern’. Christians are never permitted to be isolationists. We are called to learn from and share with our brothers and sisters in the worldwide Church, participating with them in the urgent task of world evangelism, stewardship of the earth’s resources and challenging injustice, poverty and oppression in Jesus’ name,” he said.
Dr. Sellar is the 177th Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland since the election of the Very Rev. Dr. Samuel Hanna in 1840.
To read Dr. Sellar's address to the General Assembly download here.
For a list of former Moderators, click here.