The former youth pastor of Woodlands Presbyterian Church has taken up a new position as minister of Waringstown Presbyterian Church.
Rev. Stuart Hawthorne also served as an elder with the Carrick congregation.
Woodlands Presbyterian is his home congregation and where he began his student assistantship.
Prior to his ministry, he had been employed as a post-primary teacher for six years.
He said: “I felt absolutely compelled to leave my teaching post for a full time ministry post, even if it was against human rationale - less pay and much less holidays. But God had placed a call upon my life to preach his Word and pastor young people.”
He explained that he and his wife Caroline had been involved in youth ministry leadership since they were aged 19 or 20.
Stuart went on to serve as youth pastor with Woodlands for five-and-a-half years during which time he gained an MA in applied theology from the Irish Bible Institute.
He said that he became conscious of the “clear calling of God” to study to become a full-time minister in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. He commenced study at Union Theological College, Belfast and graduated in 2015 with a diploma in ministry.
He served as assistant minister with Rev. Ivan Neish, in Abbots Cross Presbyterian Church in Newtownabbey where he was said to have “endeared himself to young and old with a vibrant and caring” ministry.
Stuart’s ordination and installation at Waringston Presbyterian was overseen by Rev Lachlan Webster, Moderator of the Presbytery of Armagh.
Rev. Dr. Stafford Carson, previously convener of the church during the vacancy, described Stuart as “an able and gifted man and said that the congregation needed to “work with him; to encourage him and to respond positively to his leadership and his teaching, while praying for his protection and that he would kept true to his calling”.
Gifts were then presented to Stuart, Caroline and children Eli, Caleb, Joel and Mollie to mark the occasion.