General Assembly opens tonight

5.6.2017 | General Assembly, Moderator

Around 800 Presbyterians from across Ireland, civic dignitaries and guests from churches at home and overseas will gather in Belfast this evening for the installation of the new Moderator, at the Opening Night of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s General Assembly.

Holywood minister Rev. Dr. Noble McNeely, will be installed as the 178th Moderator since 1840, and only the second to come from the County Down town.

Dr. McNeely, a former teacher who was minister of First Ballymoney Presbyterian Church from 1984-1997 and minister of First Holywood Presbyterian Church for the last 20 years, will address the General Assembly after has been formerly elected and installed at a special service at the church’s Assembly Buildings.

Speaking in advance of the service, Dr. McNeely said, “I am sincerely humbled. I have served the wider church in a number of roles and I see my role as Moderator as another opportunity to serve Christ and His church. At the same time, I recognise the responsibility that has been entrusted to me and I pray that with God’s help and the prayers of the Church, I will be able to fulfil expectations.”

The annual weeklong Assembly of the Church’s ministers and elders from its 500-plus congregations across Ireland will discuss close to 100 resolutions on a variety of issues. These range from plans to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, relationships with other denominations, the role and ministry of chaplaincy in Ireland, concerns over the education proposals and abortion in the Republic of Ireland and the political situation in Northern Ireland.

Rev. Trevor Gribben, Clerk of the General Assembly, and General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, said, “This is very much the Presbyterian family in Ireland coming together for a week of worship, prayer, Bible study, celebration, debate and decision-making.”

“As a Church we are involved in many aspects of day-to-day life across Ireland and the resolutions that come before our governing body reflect these and in some cases the concerns that we have,” he said.

Some of the overseas guests, the representatives from the Presbyterian Church in South Sudan and National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, churches ministering and bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in very difficult situations, will take part in a special presentation on Wednesday called, ‘Listening to the global church – Leadership in the crucible.’

With most of the Assembly’s business open to the public, business will commence at 9.30am on Tuesday, 6th June and will close on Friday, 9th June.

The ceremony is open to the public and will be broadcast live on Radio Ulster 1341 Medium Wave from 7pm. The installation and most of the other public sessions will be streamed live via this website. You can also follow a live Twitter feed @pciassembly using the hashtag #PCIGA17 for all public sessions.

For information and resources about this year's General Assembly: The Blue Book, individual reports, supplementary reports, daily business, minutes, previews and reviews of each day's proceedings, visit our General Assembly 2017 resources section here.

Photos: Clockwise (1) Incoming Moderator Rev. Dr. Noble McNeely beside a bust of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland's first holder of the office, Rev. Dr. Samuel Hanna, Moderator from 1840-1841 and the 1905 Moderator's Chair.

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