Salt mine, schools, farms and foodbank all part of Moderator’s east Antrim tour

Presbyterian Moderator, Dr William Henry. Photo by Stephen Hamilton/Presseye
Presbyterian Moderator, Dr William Henry. Photo by Stephen Hamilton/Presseye

The selfless service of volunteers to their communities will be recognised during this week’s east Antrim visit by the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI), Right Reverend Dr William Henry.

Dr Henry will be seeing for himself the work of congregations, schools, businesses and public and voluntary sector organisations as part a tour of the denomination’s historic Carrickfergus Presbytery.

The Moderator’s itinerary began yesterday (Sunday) with morning worship at Second Islandmagee Presbyterian Church and an evening gathering for younger presbytery members at Woodlands Presbyterian, Carrickfergus.

Speaking beforehand, Clerk of the Presbytery, Rev Dr Colin McClure, said he was very much looking forward to welcoming Dr Henry, who is the minister of Maze Presbyterian Church near Lisburn. He is also the youngest minister to become Moderator in living memory.

“PCI has 19 presbyteries. Made up of church elders and ministers, they are essentially regional bodies that are responsible for overseeing the congregations in their local area. Here in the Presbytery of Carrickfergus, we are bounded strategically by the scenic east Antrim coast, within, and around a triangle marked by the main towns of Ballyclare, Carrickfergus and Larne.

“The Presbytery is the longest established of the Church’s presbyteries, with Ballycarry Presbyterian, one of the presbytery’s 20 congregations, being the oldest in Ireland with origins dating back to 1613,” Dr McClure explained.

Dr McClure went on to say that the itinerary for the week has been packed full of opportunities for the Moderator to recognise and encourage Presbyterians and others who contribute to their community in a range of roles.

“As well as being received by the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Dr Henry will hear from key figures who are actively engaged in local agriculture, politics, education, environmentalism as well as international mission. Some of the more unusual visits will be to ‘Jubilee Farm’, a unique, award-winning agricultural social enterprise in Glenoe. The Moderator will also meet farmers in Ballyclare, visit Ireland’s only salt mine in Carrickfergus and Larne RNLI station. ” Dr McClure said.

The final day of the tour, Sunday, 9 February, begins with the Moderator as the guest of Greenisland Church, concluding with a Presbytery Service hosted by First Larne Presbyterian Church.

“This is my third Presbytery tour and on them you get a tremendous opportunity to see how the Church is part and part of the life of local communities. You also get a real sense of the incredible amount of work that the Church and its people are doing, quietly behind the scenes in the name of Jesus, helping and caring in compassionate outreach. I am really looking forward to seeing this throughout this week when I visit Christians Against Poverty and Larne Foodbank and other organisations,” Dr Henry said.

“I am also looking forward to making time for and encouraging my ministerial colleagues in their work at a special seminar. I will also be making myself available to school pupils, during a ‘question time’ session for senior pupils at Ballyclare High School. I am also looking forward to visiting Roddensvale Special School in Larne.”

Dr Colin McClure concluded by saying, “During this tour the Moderator will be recognising the frontline service, often sacrificial, of so many people who express their faith in what might appear to some as routine. At a time when hope is in rather short supply, during this week in particularl we want to affirm the bearers of hope and the builders of transformation in lives and in society.”