About 24 hours from now the presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland will vote on who will be the Moderator Designate for the 2016 General Assembly. The ballot was announced last week and there are three nominees for the position. They are, in alphabetical order:
- The Rev. Robert Bell, minister of Ballyclare Presbyterian Church, where he as been for 27 years. Previously he served at Second Presbyterian Church, Comber and Leckpatrick Presbyterian Church. He has served on a variety of committees as well as serving as clerk of the Presbytery of Strabane and moderator of the Synod of Derry and Omagh.
- The Rev. Tony Davidson, currently the pastor at First Presbyterian Church, Armagh. Before moving to Armagh in 1994 he served at Stormont Presbyterian Church and the Christ Church, Limerick. The latter church is what some of us would refer to as a union church and is a collaboration of Presbyterians and Methodists in that area. This ecumenical spirit is in much of his ecclesiastical work as he has served on several interfaith councils and committees.
- The Rev. Frank Sellar, currently serving at Bloomfield Presbyterian Church in East Belfast. Before moving to Bloomfield nine years ago his previous parish positions include Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church in Bangor and Adelaide Road Presbyterian Church in Dublin.
It is worth noting that Revs. Bell and Sellar were also on the ballot last year.
The nominees were covered in the Belfast Newsletter and the brief bios there include a notation of their theological leanings.
The lack of any women being nominated has been noted and was called out by The Rev. Dr. Ruth Patterson in a Belfast Telegraph column by Alf McCreary. Dr. Patterson was the first woman in any denomination to be ordained as a minister in Ireland and was twice on the Moderator ballot herself. No female nominee has yet to be elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the PCI. Mr. McCreary developed this theme a bit further in his column three days later where he talked about “How Presbyterians have lost ground over gender equality.”
So there is the prologue. We will be waiting tomorrow to hear the results of the presbytery voting and look forward to Wednesday morning’s traditional news conference.