Pastor James McConnell: tributes as preacher and church leader passes away

Tributes have been paid to one of Northern Ireland’s best-known Christian preachers and church leaders, Pastor James McConnell, following the announcement of his death earlier today (Saturday).

Saturday, 17th July 2021, 6:41 pm
Pastor James McConnell. Picture: Kevin Scott / Presseye

Pastor McConnell, the founder of the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle, passed away in the Royal Victoria Hospital after a long illness.

In a video on the church’s website, Pastor David Purse said he was making the announcement with “profound sadness and indescribable pain”.

“A short time ago the Lord called our beloved Pastor McConnell home to glory,” he said.

“Having been in hospital for about seven weeks, ‘the Bishop’, as we affectionally knew and loved him, deteriorated to the point that the hospital, despite their best efforts, could no longer do anything for him other than make him comfortable.

“To say we miss him and are going to miss him is an understatement.

“So, so so many people owe so much to him as the man who introduced them to the Saviour.

“We comfort ourselves with the knowledge that he is absent from the body to be present with the Lord and we shall see him again at the resurrection when Jesus comes again.

“In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with his family, especially his wife Margaret and daughters Linda and Julie. We would appreciate your prayers for them all at this saddest of times,” added Mr Purse.

Among those who paid tribute to Pastor McConnell was First Minister Paul Givan.

“It is with sadness we mourn the loss of Pastor James McConnell. A faithful servant of the Lord loved by many,” he said.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, said: “Pastor James McConnell touched lives around the world. Bringing the good news of the gospel and leading a ministry which personified the parable of the Good Samaritan.

“My sympathies to his family and friends who will feel his passing most dearly.”

Rathcoole Presbyterian Church said: “Sad to hear that our neighbour and friend, James McConnell, has died.

“Our condolences to his family and to our brothers and sisters in Whitewell Church.

“We do ‘not grieve as others do who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)”.

A family member posted on social media that thanksgiving service arrangements will be announced later.