General Assembly 2023 opens this month

2.6.2023 | General Assembly, Moderator, Church Life.

The month of June heralds many things: the end of the school year and the ensuing long summer holidays, Wimbledon in London, Bloomsday in Dublin, and perhaps not as attention-grabbing, the annual meeting of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s (PCI) General Assembly. This year the all-Ireland denomination’s highest decision making body will open on the evening of the longest day, Wednesday, 21 June and close on the afternoon of Saturday, 24 June.

The Opening Night will also see the election and installation of Rev Dr Sam Mawhinney as Moderator, the Church’s principal public representative. The minister of Adelaide Road Presbyterian Church in Dublin, will be the first minister from a congregation in the Republic of Ireland to hold the Church’s highest office in nearly a quarter of a century.

Bringing together Presbyterians from across Ireland, Rev Trevor Gribben, Clerk of the General Assembly, explained that upwards of 1,000 ministers, elders and others are entitled to attend from the denomination’s 500-plus congregations, along with overseas representatives of PCI’s partner churches and organisations from around the world.

This year will be Mr Gribben’s ninth General Assembly as Clerk and he is looking forward to a busy and productive week. “The General Assembly is a coming together of people the length and breadth of this island of ours. As we meet in General Assembly, we do so not just to take decisions that will affect the life and ministry of our Church in the coming months and years, we come together to worship, to pray, and to bring glory to Christ in all that we do,” he said.

“For the first time since the year 2000 our Assembly will be chaired by a Moderator who is from a congregation in the Republic of Ireland and I look forward to Dr Mawhinney’s Opening Address to us on the Wednesday evening and to working with him.”

Starting at 7pm that Wednesday, Right Reverend Dr John Kirkpatrick, will take his leave as PCI’s Moderator and reflect in his address on his year in office. The service of worship, which will be attended by civic guests and members of the public, will also be live streamed.

Mr Gribben continued, “Over the last few years members have discussed a range of issues that have required further wide-ranging discussion and debate within the Church itself. Having consulted and reviewed responses from our 19 regional presbyteries, the General Assembly will be making final decisions on a range of important church related issues. This is perhaps why the ‘Blue Book’, which contains the General Assembly reports and resolutions that members will discuss, is 416 pages this year. Over 140 pages longer than 2022’s, it is one of the largest in recent memory. So it will be a busy and important few days.

“As we come together from across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, joining as one to worship the risen Lord Jesus, it is always a special and precious time. This year worship will take place on Wednesday’s Opening Night, on Thursday afternoon at 12.15pm and during the General Assembly Communion Service, which will be held on Friday at 11.45am. Everyone is welcome,” Mr Gribben said.

The Assembly’s popular Evening Celebration will take place on Thursday evening at 7.45pm. Led by PCI’s new Moderator, the speaker will be Rev Jonty Rhodes, founding pastor of Christ Church Central, a relatively new church plant in Leeds, which is part of the International Presbyterian Church.

As in previous years, the 2023 General Assembly will have what has become one of the highlights of the annual meeting, the informal presentation ‘Listening to the Global Church’. Organised by PCI’s Council for Global Mission, it will involve some of the overseas guests who will be attending the General Assembly and will take place on Friday afternoon.

Mr Gribben concluded by saying, “As we carry on making plans for this year’s General Assembly, and indeed throughout our meeting later this month, we will continue to seek God’s guidance and His grace, as we look forward to the time that we will have together.”

Members of the public are welcome to attend the public gallery for the Opening Night, the other worship times and of course the main public business sessions, which start at 10.00am on Thursday and Friday, and 10.30am on Saturday morning.

Photo & video (1) Rev Trevor Gribben, Clerk of the General Assembly and General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (2) the 2022 General Assembly video that gives a flavour of last year’s meeting.

The 2023 General Assembly opens on Wednesday, 21 June and closes on Saturday, 24 June. You will find the business before the Assembly here and the Reports that will be discussed hereYou can  follow proceedings live via Twitter @pciassembly using the hashtag #PCIGA23 for all public sessions, which will also livestreamed from this website here, where you will find a general overview of this year’s General Assembly.

Words of encouragement and prayer

25.5.2023 | Moderator, Church in Society, Church leaders.

Presbyterian Moderator, Right Reverend Dr John Kirkpatrick, his colleagues in the Church Leaders Group (Ireland), along with other church representatives and guests, offered words of encouragement and prayer for His Majesty King Charles III this morning, when the King visited St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral on the Hill of Armagh.

On the site of St Patrick’s 5th century ‘Great Stone Church’, the King had the opportunity to talk to the Church Leaders and hear something of the work of the Church. The service in Armagh was part of a two day visit to Northern Ireland by the King and Queen, with Her Majesty meeting children in Armagh’s Robinson Library as part of her campaign to encourage reading.

At the same time, in the neighbouring cathedral, there was a period of reflection and intercession during which the Church Leaders – Most Rev John McDowell, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Rev Eamon Martin, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, the Presidents of the Methodist Church in Ireland, Rev Ken Nixon and Irish Council of Churches, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, along with the Moderator – prayed for God’s blessing and guidance for the King.

The Church Leaders’ Group (Ireland), represents all-Ireland denominations with churches across the whole of the island of Ireland. It came into existence in the late 1960s when the Church Leaders recognised the value in working together in light of the urgency of political developments of the time. Since then they have met frequently, often speaking out collectively on certain public issues.

The Dean of Armagh, the Very Rev Shane Forster, welcomed him on his arrival as the Cathedral Choir, sang the words of ‘St Patrick’s Breastplate’. The choir, which was founded by Royal Charter in 1634 by King Charles I, also sang the gentle and calming words of the ‘Irish Blessing’ during the time of prayer, to a setting by Bob Chilcott.

Speaking about this morning’s service, Dr Kirkpatrick said, “As Church leaders, we had attended the King’s Coronation earlier this month, but this wasn’t a big gathering, or like his last visit in September to St Anne’s Cathedral following the death of his mother. This was a quiet moment filled with symbolism. A monarch bowed in prayer in a place alive with precious Christian history, the reverent silence of waiting before God, then entering once again the vibrant world of people.”

Dr Kirkpatrick continued, “Having expressed his commitment to uphold the Christian faith at his Coronation, our gathering in the business of his day, also spoke to me of the significance and value that the King placed on that commitment. Having come to pray, and be prayed for, in the peace of that moment, I think that should encourage people of faith. The visit also gave the King an opportunity to meet a number of people from different aspects of Church life.”

Dean Forster commented, “In this Coronation year it was a great honour to welcome His Majesty the King to the Cathedral and have the opportunity to share something of the story of this ancient holy site and place of pilgrimage with him before all present joined in prayer with the King and for the King. It was also a particular joy for the Cathedral Choir to sing for the King as they are the current members of a foundation which is linked to one of His Majesty’s predecessors and namesake, King Charles I. A moment the young choristers will remember for a very long time to come.”

Accompanying the Moderator was a small group from the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. The group was made up of Rev Trevor Gribben, the Clerk of the General Assembly, the Moderator-Designate, Rev Dr Sam Mawhinney, who will succeed Dr Kirkpatrick at next month’s General Assembly, Rev Dr Ruth Patterson OBE, Executive Director of Restoration Ministries, Karen Jardine, PCI’s Public Affairs Officer and Peter Wright from Waringstown Presbyterian Church, who was introduced to the King and spoke to him about the important work of training young leaders in PCI.

Photos (1) The Church Leaders praying for King Charles at today’s service (left to right) Most Rev Eamon Martin, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, Most Rev John McDowell, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, Rev Ken Nixon and the President of the Irish Council of Churches, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, along with the Moderator (2) Dr Kirkpatrick and Peter Wight being presented to the King (3) (left to right) Peter Wright, Dr Kirkpatrick, Rev Dr Ruth Patterson OBE, Rev Dr Sam Mawhinney, Karen Jardine, and Rev Trevor Gribben(photo credits Press Eye.)

Deep Disappointment at Shared Education cut – TRC

17.5.2023 | Church in Society, Education.

The Transferor Representatives’ Council (TRC), which represents the three main Protestant Churches in education – the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Church of Ireland, and Methodist in Ireland – has said that it is deeply disappointed by the decision to cut the Shared Education budget by 50% and remove financial support for this initiative in the next financial year.

The three Churches transferred most of their schools in Northern Ireland into state control in the early part of the 20th century – hence the terms ‘transferor’ and ‘controlled’ – in return for assurances regarding the Christian ethos of schools and a continued role in their governance.

In a statement following the funding cut announcement the TRC said:

Pre-pandemic, more than 87,000 children and young people were involved in Shared Education projects. As we continue to emerge from the worst effects of Covid, it is vital that we promote and encourage the growth of Shared Education, which enables staff and pupils from different backgrounds to work together on a regular basis, bringing significant educational, social and community benefits. This also includes giving pupils the opportunity to study subjects at GCSE level at their partner schools that are not taught at their own.

The reduction of this funding in this financial year, and proposed complete removal next year, which will disproportionately impact the controlled and maintained sectors, will be to the detriment not only of children and young people, but also to good relations across society. This is on top of significant cuts to other areas of the education budget, many of which are specifically targeted towards providing a better start for the most vulnerable children among us.

TRC is deeply concerned about this direction of travel, not least because of the endemic underfunding of the education system in recent years. Cuts to funding are short-sighted especially when the impact of these decisions on the mental and physical well-being of children and young people will be significant.

TRC calls on all in government to reconsider this negative impact on the most vulnerable in society and give education the proper funding it requires, and particularly in the area of Shared Education.

During his year in office the Moderator, Dr John Kirkpatrick, has visited a number of schools, including those which are part of the Shared Education programme. You can read about his visits to Ballycastle High School here, which is partnered with  the town’s Cross and Passion College, and Kilkeel High School, which is partnered with St Louis’ Grammar School.

Moderator set for Lebanon

13.5.2023 | Global Mission, Moderator, Overseas Tour.

Presbyterian Moderator, Right Reverend Dr John Kirkpatrick, will travel to Lebanon tomorrow on a visit he describes as a “precious opportunity to stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ”. The five day visit will focus on a biennial conference organised by one of PCI’s Middle East global mission partners, the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (NESSL).

Accompanied by PCI’s Global Mission Secretary, Rev Uel Marrs, who was last in the country in 2018, they will travel to Dhour Chweir, a town 20 miles from Beirut, just north of the main highway to Damascus in the mountains, for the three-day NESSL ‘Partners’ Consultation’. While the meeting takes place every two years, and draws representatives of Presbyterian and Reformed churches from Europe and North America, the Consultation is taking place for the first time since the Covid Pandemic.

Looking forward to the visit, Dr Kirkpatrick said, “Historically, PCI has had a long association with the Church in both Syria and Lebanon going back to the 1840s, when Irish Presbyterian missionaries helped to establish a congregation in the Syrian capital Damascus. From that time to the 1970s we sent men and women to the region, our last minister returning in 1984. Today, the connections and partnerships that we have there continue to run deep, and this includes the relationship that we have with one of our oldest partners, the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon.”

Lebanon has the largest Christian population of any Middle Eastern country, with PCI sending representatives to many of the Partners’ Consultations over the years. This is, however, the first time that a serving Moderator has attended since 2011, with Dr Kirkpatrick contributing to the morning Bible studies on the theme of ‘Hope in the midst of despair’.

The Moderator continued, “The principal purpose of the meeting is to listen to leaders and ministers from Syria and Lebanon as they share with us the challenges that they face, but equally the opportunities that are being grasped as well.

“The effects of the civil war of the 1970s, 80s and 90s still punctuates Lebanese society, as does the challenge of migration, where one in three people in the country are not from Lebanon, mainly due to the forgotten conflict in neighbouring Syria and the Palestinians who have lived in the country for generations. There is also the devastating impact of the Covid pandemic largely coinciding with an economic and banking collapse, ongoing political upheaval, and the 2020 Beirut port explosion, which made a third of a million people homeless.

“This is the demanding context, a ‘perfect storm’ of challenges, in which we will meet, but it is a precious opportunity to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ. A time to worship and pray together, particularly in the current difficulties, as we acknowledge that through Christ, there is hope even in the midst of despair,” Dr Kirkpatrick said.

Along with NESSL, which has around 12,000 members in 30 congregations across both Syria and Lebanon, PCI’s other longstanding partnership in Lebanon is the Near East School of Theology (NEST), which was founded in 1932. More recently, PCI has been relating to SAT-7, which has been broadcasting Christian TV programmes from their production studios in Beirut to the Middle East and North Africa since 1996. PCI also works with the Lebanese Society for Education and Social Development.

“Over the years many representatives from our partners in Lebanon have been welcomed guests as visiting delegates to our General Assembly, or have taken part in our conferences that we have held. Next week’s visit will also be an important opportunity to spend some time with a number of them,” Rev Uel Marrs explained.

“I know that the Moderator is keen to meet and encourage as many of our partners as possible, so we hope to go to SAT-7’s studios in Beirut, and visit NEST’s president, Dr George Sabra, to hear about School of Theology’s ongoing training programme for ministers and church leaders in Arab speaking Reformed churches in the region.

“A meeting with Lebanese Society for Education and Social Development, whose Tahaddi support centre in southern Beirut is the main project for PCI’s current Word Development Appealhas been scheduled. We also hope to see Dr Mike Bassous, General Secretary of the Bible Society of Lebanon, who spoke at a PCI conference ‘Hope Unexpected – Lessons from the life of the church in the Middle East’ in 2017. It will be a busy, but I hope, fruitful week,” Mr Marrs said.

Images: (1) the logo of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (2) the location of the town of Dhour Chweir, 20 miles from Beirut, where the meeting will take place (credit Google Maps) and (3) NESSL’s Dhour Choueir Evangelical Center that will host the Partners’ Consultation (Credit Dhour Choueir Evangelical Center).

Balmoral: Moderator praises farmers

12.5.2023 | Mission News, Moderator, Church in Society, Mission, Farming and Rural Life, Presbytery News.

On a visit to the Balmoral Show this week, Presbyterian Moderator, Rt Rev Dr John Kirkpatrick, praised farmers and farming families “…for the work that they do in providing food for our tables, their contribution to the local economy, while managing the countryside, all of which is often taken for granted.”

Dr Kirkpatrick was speaking as he visited the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s (PCI) Dromore Presbytery Stand at this week’s Balmoral Show in the Eikon Exhibition Centre. While the Moderator’s father and grandfather were Presbyterian ministers – making him a third generation Presbyterian pastor – his farming roots go much further back.

“Much of my childhood was spent on the farm where my mother was reared, at Ballymena. Here I developed both an appreciation of the hard work and personal satisfaction of rural life,” Dr Kirkpatrick explained, who has been a passionate beekeeper for the past 10 years.

“Coming from such a deep rooted heritage, I studied farm management at Greenmount Agricultural College, did a Social Science and Environmental Studies degree at the University of Ulster’s Coleraine campus, and worked for a year at the Department of Agriculture. But ultimately, as I discovered, my call in life wasn’t to the fields and the harvest, but the mission field and a different kind of harvest,” he said.

During the Show he and his wife Joan – who comes from generations of Fermanagh farmers – had an opportunity to meet a number of different organisations. These included the Northern Ireland Agri-Rural Health Forum, where they attended the launch of the ‘Know Your Numbers’ campaign, which encourages farmers and farm families to have their blood pressure taken regularly. Dr Kirkpatrick also met the Rural Support team who were conducting the 2023 Farm Support Survey and PCI’s Rural Chaplain, Rev Kenny Hanna.

“I would really encourage farmers to get behind the ‘Know Your Numbers campaign, because our health is so vital to our wellbeing, and livelihood. The survey is also an important initiative. Along with other information its findings will ensure that Rural Support programmes and services are designed and delivered to meet the needs of the farming community for next three years. I would encourage as many people as possible to take part in both,” the Moderator said.

“In these days of increasing costs, unprecedented challenge and pressures for famers and faming families, I want to pay tribute to them for the work that they do in providing food for our tables and their contribution to the local economy, while managing the countryside, all of which is often taken for granted.

“Those who support them play an invaluable role, and I include the many congregations that we have across this island of ours, who are part of rural communities and play their practical and, of course, pastoral roles in local life. I include in that our Rural Chaplain, Kenny Hanna, who works alongside congregations in Counties Down and Armagh,” Dr Kirkpatrick said.

The Moderator also thanked the Presbytery of Dromore – one of PCI’s 19 regional presbyteries – which includes 22 congregations in the north eastern corner of County Down, who have been at the Balmoral Show since 2015. “It is so important for the Church to be outward facing, bringing the compassion and the love of Christ to those who may not necessarily go to church on a Sunday. Dromore Presbytery’s Balmoral stand is a fine example of that and it was great to see it so busy and so welcoming.”

Rev Bobby Liddle, the convener of the Presbytery’s Balmoral Show Committee, which organised the stand, thanked everyone for ‘dropping by’. “This has been our ninth Balmoral Show and I hope that everyone who visited was made to feel very welcome and had time to catch their breath over a cup of tea or coffee, or just meet up with friends. It has been good to see the Show buzzing with all the excitement and opportunities that it brings each year.”

The minister of Legacurry Presbyterian Church near Lisburn continued, “For those who came needing pastoral support and a compassionate, listening ear, or a time of prayer, it is my prayer that, as the Apostle Paul writes, that they will know “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding…” (Philippians 4:7). As I said last year, and reiterate again, as a Church we want to reassure all farmers and their families of our ongoing pastoral and prayerful support, which is one of the main reasons for us reaching out in the name of Jesus and taking part in the Balmoral Show each year.”

Photos: (1) On the Dromore Presbytery stand at this year’s Balmoral Show are (left to right) Rev Bobby Liddle, minister of Legacurry Presbyterian Church and convener of the Presbytery’s Balmoral Show Committee with the Moderator, Dr John Kirkpatrick and his wife Joan, and some of the members of the Presbytery’s Balmoral team, Brian Copes who is an elder in First Dromara Presbyterian Church, former PW President Elma Leeburn and Alan Martin, an elder in Maze Presbyterian Church (2) Dr Kirkpatrick at the Launch of the Northern Ireland Agri-Rural Health Forum’s ‘Know Your Numbers’ campaign with his wife Joan, Rev Kenny Hanna, PCI’s Rural Chaplain and Forum Chair, Dr Rebecca Orr (3) The Moderator with Victoria Ross (left), Rural Support’s Farm Support Co-ordinator and Gillian Reid, Head of Farm Support, with the 2023 Farm Support Survey.

Presbyterian Women meet for annual conference

Mental health and counselling at home and supporting Christian broadcasting across the Middle East and North Africa will be the special projects Presbyterian Women (PW) will be focussing on this year – the organisation announced at its annual conference, which took place in Belfast today.

Supporting the development of ministry among women in Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) congregations, upwards of 1000 women of all ages gathered to worship, hear from God’s Word, and find out how the organisation’s work has continued to make a difference to the lives of so many across Ireland and overseas this past year.

Founded over 130 years ago the annual conference, which is the largest event organised by PCI after its General Assembly, also heard from guest speaker, Rev Ali Calvin, the current rector Christ Church in Kilkeel, who spoke on this year’s theme ‘Being Transformed’, which is taken from Romans 12:2.

Pauline Kennedy, PCI’s Women’s Ministry and PW Development Officer, explained that Presbyterian Women is an organisation within PCI, “that enables, encourages and equips women to become disciples of Christ. We are very blessed as an organisation of some 450 groups across the island, as we are able to do more together than we could do alone. Together, PW is a real partnership that is able to support the development of ministry to women in the Church each year, and support our Mission Fund annually to the tune of around £300,000. We are so grateful for the generosity of our groups up and down the land who also enable us to support our various special projects,” she said.

This year’s Special Home Project is two-stranded and focuses on mental health through the work of REACH and Biblical Counselling Ireland. REACH Mentoring for Young People is a Christian charity that offers a mentoring programme for children and teenagers in schools in the Armagh, Down and Craigavon areas between the ages of 9-18 years. The second strand will support a new project of Biblical Counselling Ireland, a counselling organisation based in churches in the Dublin area.

This Special Overseas Project will support Christian broadcaster, and one of PCI’s global mission partners, SAT-7, as it continues to reach across the Middle East and North Africa. Presbyterian Women will specifically support ‘Women Across the Middle East & North Africa’ which is known as ‘MENA’ helping SAT-7 transform women’s experience through broadcast media so that they may know the fullness of life in Christ. “SAT-7 broadcasts boldly across the region trying to present a new way of living based upon biblical values to raise up the value of women and girls to their communities while seeking to give them a voice to speak for themselves, something that we want to be very supportive of,” Pauline Kennedy explained.

Alongside the Special Projects, each year Presbyterian Women supports the work of PCI’s deaconesses at home, the training of new student deaconesses, and the work of South Belfast Friendship House, alongside PCI’s Global Mission Workers.

In her address, Presbyterian Women’s President for the forthcoming year, Ann Wilson, said that it was good to be able to come together without the restrictions of the recent past. “We are thankful to God that this past year so many PW Groups have got up and running once more, despite the challenges they may have faced. Moving forward hasn’t always been easy, and for some of our groups difficult decisions have had to be made…

Mrs Wilson who worships at First Ballynahinch Presbyterian Church, continued, “Through our recent themes, Presbyterian Women have been encouraged to focus on the importance of deepening relationships with each other and above all, with God. We have been reminded that relationships are an important part of Christian ministry and service.

“This is something that we need to continue building on and working at as we embrace the new theme of ‘Being Transformed’. another part of our journey with Christ…As I look forward to meeting our groups, I pray that I would be reminded of these words found in 1 Peter 4:11, ‘If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.’”

Outgoing president, Esther Parker, who worships in Belfast’s historic Sinclair Seamen’s Presbyterian Church, said that serving as president had been “a privilege and a pleasure!” and thanked everyone for their support. “Over the course of the year, I have met so many women in group meetings, church services, and events, as well as having many personal conversations. I have learned and benefitted from those conversations, and trust that the Lord has used me to encourage, challenge and help other women whether we spoke personally, or they were listening as I spoke at the front of a meeting…”

Mrs Parker continued, “Women in PCI have thought much this year about our theme, going ‘Deeper Together’ with God, and with each other. As we deepen in our knowledge of our great God, I trust that we are seeing him at work in our minds, our hearts and our behaviour, and that the work will continue as we begin to think about this year’s theme, ‘Being Transformed’, by the renewing of our minds.”

Photos: (1) Outgoing Presbyterian Women’s President, Esther Parker hands over the PW broach (which can also be worn as a neckless) to Ann Wilson, her successor as president (2) the scene inside the Assembly Hall where the Annual Conference is taking place (3) those taking part in the Annual Conference are (left to right) Esther Parker and Ann Wilson with guest speaker Rev Ali Calvin, rector Christ Church in Kilkeel, and Pauline Kennedy, PCI’s Women’s Ministry and PW Development Officer (4) this year’s office bearers (left to right) Ellen Hillen, Home Vice President,  Ann Wilson and Linda Beattie, PW Overseas Vice President.

‘An honour to take part in the Coronation’

Presbyterian Moderator, Right Reverend Dr John Kirkpatrick, has said that “…it will be a privilege to be able to take part in the King’s Coronation and an honour to be able to represent Irish Presbyterians at such a unique and historic occasion…” Dr Kirkpatrick was speaking from London where he took part in yesterday’s rehearsal at Westminster Abbey ahead of tomorrow’s ceremony.

While his predecessor, Dr John McKean, was a guest at the late Queen’s Coronation in 1953, this is believed to be the first time that a Moderator, along with his fellow Church Leaders from the island of Ireland, will be taking part in Saturday’s historic event, as they process together ahead of the King and Queen Consort at the start of the service.

“For all the pomp and pageantry, and amongst the symbolism and all the spectacle, at its very heart is a Christian service of dedication and blessing. It is a great privilege to be able to take part in the King’s Coronation and an honour to be able to represent Irish Presbyterians at such a unique and historic occasion that hasn’t been seen for 70 years,” Dr Kirkpatrick said.

“As people tune in on Saturday to see King Charles crowned, it will be for many people, especially in Northern Ireland, a special moment. With Coronation services taking place across our denomination on Sunday, along with an array of community events to mark the occasion in which our churches are involved, this is also a time of thanksgiving and celebration.”

The Moderator continued, “As a Christian leader, and a witness in the Abbey representing my brothers and sisters in Christ of all ages back home in PCI, the Coronation is a reminder of the meaningful place that Christianity still has in the fabric of national life.

“The service reminds us as well of the biblical call to pray for those in authority, without fear or favour, in the name of the King of Kings, while acknowledging the Grace of God that King Charles will need in order to do all that he is called to do. The Coronation also speaks to us of where we can find truth. For when the King is presented with the Bible, he is told that it is ‘…the most valuable thing that this world affords.’”

Dr Kirkpatrick concluded by saying, “While Moderators have been privileged to attend the inauguration of the Presidents of Ireland and other national events and commemorationswe are also in a unique position to be able to represent our people at state occasions in the United Kingdom. My predecessor Dr Bruce, for example, took part in the Service of Thanksgiving for Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee at St Paul’s Cathedral last June, while I took part in the State Funeral following her death in September. Tomorrow is another opportunity to bear witness to, and be part of, a very special moment in time.”

Image: The Moderator’s official invitation from the Earl Marshall, the Duke of Norfolk, to attend the Coronation of Their Majesties the King and Queen on Saturday at Westminster Abbey.