Presbyterian Church in Ireland elects next Moderator

Rev Charles McMullen, minister to large Bangor congregation, will take over in June

The next moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland will be the Rev Charles McMullen, a minister at West Church, Bangor, Co Down.

The church’s 19 presbyteries throughout Ireland met on Tuesday night to elect Mr McMullen, who will be described as moderator-elect until he takes over from the current moderator, Rev Dr Noble McNeely, in June.

He will be the church’s 179th moderator since the election of its first moderator in 1840.

One of three candidates, Mr McMullen received nine votes. Rev Brian Boyd of Kells and Eskylane church in Co Antrim received six votes, while Rev William Henry of Maze Presbyterian Church, also in Co Antrim, received four.

Mr McMullen said after his election: “I am simply overwhelmed to have been elected moderator-designate and commit myself to the Lord for his help and guidance over what I am sure will be an exciting, challenging and enriching year that lies ahead.”

Mr McMullen is a native of Omagh, Co Tyrone. He attended Omagh County Primary School and Omagh Academy. He studied at Trinity College Dublin, graduating with a joint honours in French and German in 1982.

In 1982 he went to St Antony’s College, Oxford, where he studied modern European history and completed his master’s degree by thesis in 1987. From 1984 to 1987 he attended the church’s Union Theological College in Belfast.

He was ordained as assistant minister in Harmony Hill, Lambeg in Co Antrim in 1988, before being called to Legacurry Presbyterian church near Lisburn, where he was installed in 1991.

In 1999 he became minister of Bangor West church, which was established in 1961. It is a large congregation on the outskirts of Bangor, with about 1,100 families and around 2,700 people.

Very steep learning curve

Looking forward to when he takes over as moderator, Mr McMullen said he was in no doubt that he would face a very steep learning curve as he prepared for that challenge.

Mr McMullen and his wife Barbara, whom he met at the Presbyterian General Assembly in Belfast in 1990, have three adult children.

They both enjoy walking on the north Down and Antrim coasts and taking walking trips abroad. He enjoys reading and current affairs, watching Ulster rugby, following Chelsea and keeping fit. As a writer, he has contributed to denominational magazines and BBC Radio Ulster’s Thought for the Day.

Describing his ministry, Mr McMullen said: “The key word for me is ‘relationship’; our relationship with God in Christ, our relationship with one another in Christian community together and the sense of building relationships as we share the love of Christ with outsiders.

“Christian love is very central to my ministry, it is inclusive and encouraging in the hope of bringing people to an encounter with the living God and the truth of His Word.”