Installation of new Moderator tonight

1.6.2020 | General Assembly, Moderator, Church Life

One hundred and eighty years ago, the first General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland met. With the coming together of two Presbyterian churches in the summer of 1840, they elected the first Moderator of the new Church, something that has happened every year since. This evening, at 7pm in Assembly Buildings, Belfast, Rev Dr David Bruce will become the 175th person to hold the office as he takes part in a special livestreamed ceremony with just four people participating in person in the Assembly Hall.

The installation would have taken place on the Opening Night of this year’s General Assembly and would been attended by upwards of 900 people from across Ireland, including past moderators, civic dignitaries, and representatives from other churches across Europe, Africa and Asia. The event was cancelled in April, owing to the current Coronavirus emergency.

Outlining the service of installation, the Clerk of the General Assembly and General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Rev Trevor Gribben, explained that the four people physically present and participating would be himself, the outgoing and incoming Moderators, Rt Rev Dr William Henry and Rev Dr David Bruce and the Deputy Clerk of the General Assembly, Rev Jim Stothers. All appropriate health and safety precautions will be followed, including observing government guidance on social distancing in the large hall.

“As I have said before, our General Assembly has been part of the rhythm of our Church life since 1840. It is the Presbyterian family coming together, and as far as I am aware a meeting has never been cancelled, only postponed, due to a different kind of national emergency in 1940.”

Mr Gribben continued, “Yet, unprecedented times often call for unprecedented responses, and like many organisations, we have found it necessary to find different ways of working to do what needs to be done, and this includes the installation of our new Moderator.”

Those watching via the livestream (a link is available here) will hear the outgoing Moderator, Dr Henry give his address and talk about his year in office, as he would have done at the Opening Night of the General Assembly. His successor, Dr Bruce, will then give his address, having been elected by the members of the Standing Commission of the General Assembly, who will take part in the installation via a video conferencing platform. The Standing Commission was appointed to transact necessary business of the Assembly, including the election of the new Moderator.

“This is a different ceremony for a different time,” explained Mr Gribben. “Those joining us via the livestream will also hear both of the Moderators’ Chaplains remotely reading and leading in prayer as well as a worship song by members of Dr Henry’s congregation at Maze Presbyterian. Tomorrow’s special event will take just over an hour and will conclude with a video of the song ‘There is a Hope’ by Sylvia Burnside of the New Irish Orchestra.”

Photos (1) Clerk of the General Assembly and General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Rev Trevor Gribben (2) incoming Moderator, Rev Dr David Bruce. You can read an interview with him here.

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