Moderator: Shortlist to succeed Dr Bruce unveiled

20.1.2022 | General Assembly, Moderator, Church Life, Presbytery News

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) announced today the names of four ministers that will go before the Church’s 19 regional presbyteries on 1 February, when they meet to select the all-Ireland denomination’s next Moderator.

Rev Trevor Gribben, Clerk of the General Assembly and General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland explained that in February of last year, Dr David Bruce became the first Moderator since 1894 to serve a second consecutive term, his having been the only name forwarded by presbyteries for formal consideration. This year, however, presbyteries will have a choice of four potential nominees for the post of Moderator of the General Assembly for the year 2022-2023.

The names of the four ministers who will be considered for nomination when presbyteries meet at different locations across Ireland are:

Rev John Kirkpatrick Dip Th (PTFI), BSc (NUU)



John Kirkpatrick has been minister of Portrush Presbyterian Church since 1993. Born in 1956, John was ordained assistant minister of Megain/Mersey St Presbyterian Churches, Belfast in 1985, before being installed as minister of Garryduff Presbyterian in 1987.






Rev Dr Colin McClure BSc (QUB), BD (QUB), MSSc (QUB), D Min (PTFI)



Colin McClure has been minister of First Larne Presbyterian Church since 2003. Born in 1962, he was ordained assistant minister of Fisherwick Presbyterian Church, Belfast in 1990 and installed as minister of Loughbrickland and Scarva Presbyterian Churches in 1993. Colin was convener of PCI’s Personnel / Planning Committee (2000-2004) and State Education Committee (2010-2014). He has been Clerk of the Presbytery of Carrickfergus since 2014.




Rev Dr Trevor McCormick, BA (CNAA), BD (QUB), D Min (Covn)


Trevor McCormick was installed as minister of First Kilrea Presbyterian Church in 1986 and with Boveedy Presbyterian (Stated Supply) in 2009. Born in 1958, he was ordained assistant minister of First Carrickfergus Presbyterian Church in 1984. Trevor was convener of the Presbyterian Residential Trust Committee (1996-2003) and PCI’s Council for Social Witness (2015-2020). He has been Clerk of the Presbytery of Coleraine & Limavady since 2016.



Rev Alastair McNeely, BA (UU), BD (QUB)



Alastair McNeely was ordained assistant minister of Ebrington Presbyterian Church in 1991. He was called to Richhill Presbyterian Church in 1993, where he has served as minister for nearly 30 years. Alastair was born in 1962.



Reflecting on the last time presbyteries met for this purpose, Mr Gribben said, “In February 2020, when presbyteries ‘met normally’ and nominated David Bruce for what was to be his first term as Moderator, no one knew what was just around the corner, and how the pandemic would impact so much of our lives, including the process of electing our Moderator the following year.

“I genuinely give thanks to God, that the rhythm of our church life is gradually returning, and once more ministers and elders from our 500-plus congregations the length and breadth of this island can come together to prayerfully select a colleague to be nominated as our next Moderator,” Mr Gribben said.

Made up of ministers and elders drawn from local congregations in a particular area, each presbytery meets between five and eight times a year and is responsible for overseeing those congregations in their local area. While undertaking other important tasks, by convention the annual selection of the minister who will be proposed to the General Assembly as Moderator, takes place on the first Tuesday in February.

The process to find PCI’s Moderator begins in the late autumn, when members of presbyteries begin to suggest the names of ministers who they would like to see considered. The Clerk of the General Assembly then approaches those on this ‘long list’ to see if they would be willing to have their names go forward to the next stage in February.

Mr Gribben explained that any of this year’s four names may be proposed, seconded and voted on in a presbytery. If more than one is proposed and seconded the presbytery will continue to vote by secret ballot until one name has received the majority support of those voting. That minister then becomes the person for whom that presbytery has registered their vote. The minister who receives the support of most presbyteries becomes Moderator-Designate, and will be nominated to the General Assembly for election as Moderator.

The Clerk concluded by saying, “Having been elected for a second term by the October 2021 General Assembly, Dr Bruce told us that he sincerely hoped that the extension of Moderatorial terms of service would not become ‘habit forming.’ In sharing that hope, I look forward to working with whoever succeeds David this coming June, as they continue to serve the Lord Jesus Christ by taking on this important role in the life and ministry of PCI. As always, they will certainly be deserving of our prayers.”

The name of the Moderator-Designate will announced on the evening of 1 February. They will then be formally proposed to the General Assembly as Moderator for the year 2022-2023, when it meets on Wednesday, 22 June 2022.

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