Tag Archives: Moderator

Moderator Designate For The Free Church Of Scotland General Assembly

We are entering the GA preparation season with moderator candidates being announced and overtures being endorsed. So here one of the early announcements…

A couple of weeks ago the Free Church of Scotland announced their selection of the Rev. Dr. John Nicholls as their Moderator Designate for the 2016 General Assembly. Rev. Nicholls currently serves, in semi-retirement, as an associate minister at the Smithton Free Church of Inverness, but may be best known as the former chief executive of the London City Mission, a position he left back in May of 2013 after more than 20 years with the organization. He began his ministry at Ardnamurchan, Lochaber in 1975 before returning to his home town of London to serve at the London City Church and then the City Mission.

He began his higher education, according to the press release, at the Universities of Bradford and then Leeds studying mathematics and education. He completed his theological training at what was then Free Church College (now Edinburgh Theological Seminary) and his doctorate is in practical theology from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

The Free Church press release says of him “Dr Nicholls, 66, is widely respected as one of the most gentle and gracious ministers in the denomination.”

The press release includes these words from Dr. Nicholls in response to the call:

“Although most of my years of ministry have been spent outside Scotland, the Free Church has been my spiritual home for over 40 years.

“It is a great honour to be asked to serve as moderator of the next General Assembly.

“Having seen much evidence of the vitality and growth of evangelical Presbyterian Churches around the world, it is exciting to see signs of similar growth and renewal in Scotland, with the Free Church growing in membership and in the number of its congregations.

“With record numbers of students enrolled at the Edinburgh Theological Seminary, these are days of renewed hope and expectation across the Free Church.

“In such a climate, the General Assembly becomes far more than a mere talking shop or business meeting.

“And yet, the work and witness of the Free Church will only truly prosper if there is a strong and healthy passion for prayer and for the Word of God, and a genuine love to Jesus Christ, among its ministers and members.

“That must be the most important concern of any Moderator and any Assembly.”

He and his wife Sarah have two children and four grandchildren.

Our congratulations to Dr. Nicholls and prayers and best wishes as he prepares for this new call. We look forward to his leadership as he moderates the Assembly and will continue to pray for him in the moderatorial year which will follow.

Moderator Announcement From The Presbyterian Church In Canada – The Rev. Karen Horst Moderator Nominee

A few minutes ago the Presbyterian Church in Canada made their expected April 1st announcement of the results of the voting for Moderator of the General Assembly. We would like to congratulate The Rev. Karen Horst upon her selection as the Moderator Nominee for the 141st General Assembly in 2015.

The announcement contains no new information or quotes so I will reprint here my summary from last month when I profiled all six candidates:

The Rev. Karen Horst – Currently serving the congregation of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church of Orillia, Ontario, she began her work in the diaconal ministry helping with educational resources and leader training. She has served extensively in the wider church including on numerous committees at the national level and as the convener of Presbyterian World Service and Development committee for six years. She has been the emcee for two national Presbyterian Women’s Gatherings and she served on design teams for Youth Triennium with the PC(USA). In her interview in the Record she talks of her passion for “the alleviation of suffering for humans and creation itself,” a motivation reflected in her time working with PWS&D. Under concerns she speaks of “the growing polarization between ideologies.” For fellowship and recreation she and her husband enjoy riding with her church’s “motorcycle gang.”

This summary is drawn in part from a much longer profile and interview that appeared in the Presbyterian Record.

Our congratulations to Rev. Horst on her selection and prayers and best wishes for the General Assembly and her moderatorial year.

General Assembly Moderator Ballot For The Presbyterian Church In Canada

As we hit the middle of March we can look forward to the announcement of the results of the vote for the Moderator Designate for the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The ballot for Moderator of the the 2015 General Assembly was announced last Fall along with a supplemental sheet with brief biographies. There are six clergy – no ruling elders this year – four women and two men who geographically span much of the Dominion. Here are the honored individuals in the order presented in the press release. The links on the names go to more detailed profiles published by the Presbyterian Record.

The Rev. Marion R. Barclay MacKay – Rev. Barclay MacKay has served as the pastor of St. Andrew’s Church in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, since early 2009. Before that she served with the International Ministries program working with the Presbyterian Church of Ghana. Her work there included helping develop the lay training and catechist program. Her first ordained position was with a different St. Andrew’s, that one in Calgary. Her education includes Ewart College (before it was integrated into Knox College) and the University of Toronto, the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia (now incorporated into Union Presbyterian Seminary), and Knox College. Among her leadership roles are serving as Moderator of both Calgary-Macleod and Cape Breton Presbyteries and as the first Canadian to serve as president of the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators.

The Rev. Dr. Nancy Cocks – She is currently the pastor of St. John’s Church in Medicine Hat, Alberta but her resume also includes academic and international experience. She has taught at the Vancouver School of Theology and the Atlantic School of Theology after finishing her Th.D. at Knox College. She was the first Associate Secretary for Faith and Witness at the Canadian Council of Churches as well as serving on the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. She also spent four years with the Iona Community in Scotland as Deputy Warden of its Island Centres. She says in her profile that this experience showed her “that language in worship can be clear and simple yet still profound.” She also talks of her passion for children and she has authored 16 books for children.

The Rev. John Barry Forsyth – Rev. Forsyth currently serves as the pastor of St. Andrew’s Church, Sherbrooke, Quebec, but has also served churches in British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia. In his various positions he has been the Moderator of three presbyteries and two synods. While his ministry focus has focused on parish work he has also spent some time in education teaching English as a second language and history. He has used his love of triathlon as an outreach opportunity and has a weekly radio broadcast. In the Record interview he mentions the challenges the church faces but says “it will be important that we not lose sight of what we are as a people.” He goes on to talk about “a covenant which we share; a binding promise to work together for the gospel of the kingdom of Christ.”

The Rev. Karen Horst – Currently serving the congregation of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church of Orillia, Ontario, she began her work in the diaconal ministry helping with educational resources and leader training. She has served extensively in the wider church including on numerous committees at the national level and as the convener of Presbyterian World Service and Development committee for six years. She has been the emcee for two national Presbyterian Women’s Gatherings and she served on design teams for Youth Triennium with the PC(USA). In her interview in the Record she talks of her passion for “the alleviation of suffering for humans and creation itself,” a motivation reflected in her time working with PWS&D. Under concerns she speaks of “the growing polarization between ideologies.” For fellowship and recreation she and her husband enjoy riding with her church’s “motorcycle gang.”

The Rev. Dr. J. Kevin Livingston – Rev. Livingston currently works in academia where he serves as an Associate Professor of of Pastoral Ministry at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto. In his previous parish ministry he served a church in British Columbia and two churches in Ontario. His education is varied with a B.A. from Seattle University, an M.Div. from Fuller Seminary and his Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen Scotland. He was originally ordained in the PC(USA) before moving to British Columbia. He has been a presbytery Moderator for East Toronto and has served on national boards including the Special Committee on Sexual Orientation. He chairs the Board of Trustees for Latin American Mission Canada and has published articles on missiology. In the Record interview he talks about his passion for being a pastor and preaching. Speaking of his concerns he says “I am concerned about the numerical decline of our Presbyterian Church in Canada in terms of a shrinking membership and the closure of churches. But I am even more concerned by what seems to be a loss of hope, rooted in a decline of confidence in the gospel as God’s power to change lives, churches and whole societies.” As for a theme for his moderatorial year, he talks about what it would mean for the PC Canada to be missional.

The Rev. M. Helen Smith – Currently serving Centennial Presbyterian Church in Calgary, Rev. Smith has also served a church in Alberta and two churches in Ontario. In addition, she has done non-parish work: she served as Program Director at the Evangel Hall Mission (an inner city mission in downtown Toronto), as the Director of Camp Kannawin in Alberta, and as the minister on staff at Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS) (a homeless ministry). She has served as the Moderator of three presbyteries and on multiple national committees. At an even wider level she has served on the North America Area Council of the World Communion of Reformed Churches. When the Record asked about a theme for her time as Moderator she said simply “Sowing seeds of shalom.” This echoes back to her reply about where her passion lies and her discussion of doing mission locally and nurturing shalom in the community. The phrase is taken from a book on that topic by Dan Steigerwald.

So there are the candidates. As I went through the list is was difficult not to be impressed by the years of service and the hope they have for the church. They are a diverse group in many respects but it was difficult not to notice that five of the six have one thing in common – they are, or have, served a church named “St. Andrew’s.”

The Clerk’s office will announce the results of the balloting in just about two weeks and so as that date approaches we pray for the six of them in their waiting and the discernment of the church in their choosing.

Moderator Designate For The Presbyterian Church In Ireland — Rev. Ian McNie

Today is the first Tuesday in February and that means it is the day that the nineteen presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland each gather and vote for their choice for the Moderator of the upcoming General Assembly.

This year, from a field of four candidates, they have nominated as the Moderator-designate for the 2015 General Assembly the Rev. Ian McNie. Rev. McNie received the endorsement of twelve of the presbyteries.

Rev. McNie is the pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Ballymoney where he has led that parish for the last 23 years. From his brief bio we know that his previous position was at Kilkeel Presbyterian Church for 11 years. He has served the wider church as Moderator of the Synod of Armagh and Down and as convener of the Youth Centres Committee for seven years.

He was educated at Belfast Royal Academy and Queen’s University in Belfast, receiving his Bachelor of Divinity from the latter. He continued his ministerial training at Union Theological College. He and his wife Anne have two sons, one of whom is also a PCI minister.

In his comments following his election he spoke of his ministry:

“As a conservative evangelical, I recognise that we are living in the 21st Century and therefore seek to steer the congregation in such a way that we do not cling to the traditions of the past, but seek to be relevant today. At the same time, I also recognise that the truth of the Gospel has not changed and we should not allow society to pressure us into departing from the core values of the Scriptures.”

In talking about the year ahead he said

“During my year of office I would hope to be given the opportunity to present the Gospel in many different situations, both within the church and community, to learn from the experiences of others and to encourage congregations to be pro-active in their presentation of the Word of God. I would also look forward to the opportunity to encourage ministers and their families, particularly those who have just started their ministry.”

It is worth noting that in this election there was once again some anticipation of whether the church might get its first female Moderator. But while the Rev. Liz Hughes of Whitehouse did come in second in the voting, it was a distant second with four votes. She placed similarly last year peaking at six votes last year and in both rounds she tied with Rev. McNie. There were three presbyteries that voted for her again this year and while losing three to other candidates did pick up one new one. As the old sports cliché goes, maybe next year.

But for this year we congratulate Rev. McNie on his nomination and offer our prayers as he prepares for the Assembly and Moderates it. His installation will be on June 1 and we wish him the best for his moderatorial year.

UPDATE (4 Feb 15): Well this got interesting really fast…

Rev. McNie started making the media rounds this morning and speaking on a BBC NI broadcast he said:

“Those who are not all that in favour, if you want to put it like that, of women’s ordination don’t hold that point of view from the position of personal preference,” he told the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster.

“They hold that position from the point of view that as they interpret the scriptures, the leadership role within the church is not necessarily the leadership role within society – that men and women complement each other, and consequently, possibly that’s why many people have taken the view that they take and that’s why the church has not embraced the election of a woman moderator.

“I would have a conviction that, like many other people within all major denominations, that there are some concerns about that issue, and yes, I would share that conviction as well.”

Needless to say, that generated headlines really fast. At the traditional news conference later on he did qualify his remarks saying “that if the church was to vote in a women moderator in the next few years, the church would have his ‘full and complete and utter support'”.

On Twitter, Alan in Belfast lets us know that at the press conference the Principal Clerk Trevor Gribbon expressed his considered judgement that the PCI will have a female moderator before there is a woman as the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The other headline grabber was the Moderator-designate’s comment that well know atheist Stephen Fry is “spiritually blind” responding to comments Fry made in a TV interview last week. I won’t rehash it here but you can get the full context from an article in the Independent.

And finally, in another tweet Alan in Belfast gives us some critical information about Rev. McNie

The important Q has finally been asked at the close of the press conference – Rev Ian McNie supports Man Utd

There is follow up to the press conference from Alan in Belfast with the audio of a 12 minute interview with Rev. McNie and his piece on his blog.

Moderator Designate Of The Church Of Scotland 2015 General Assembly

Tempting to start off with the quip “Deja vu all over again,” but I’ll pass on that one…

None the less, with the announcement today by the selection committee of the Church of Scotland that the Rev. Angus Morrison, minister of Orwell and Portmoak Parish Church, has been chosen as the Moderator Designate for the 2015 General Assembly, it does permit me to draw on previous material.

Rev. Morrison was selected as the Moderator Designate a year ago for the 2014 General Assembly  but his ill health leading up to that Assembly forced him to step back. In accepting this renewed call he is quoted as saying:

I am thankful that a very good recovery, following surgery, has made it possible for me to accept the nomination.

My wife and I are deeply appreciative of the support and prayers of so many across the Church during this recent difficult period. In dependence on God’s grace, I look forward to the opportunities and challenges of the year ahead.

To remind you of his background allow me to quote directly from my original post introducing him:

The press release tells us that Mr. Morrison moved around as a child as his father tended different lighthouses. His college career began at the University of Glasgow with further studies at Pisa University and London University. He completed his Ph.D. at Edinburgh University’s New College. He was ordained by the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland in 1979. (Note – not the Free Church as was originally reported in some accounts, although the branches share some of the same lineage.) He later transferred to the Church of Scotland. With the Free Presbyterians he served churches in Oban and Edinburgh. Before his current position he was at St. Columba’s (Old Parish) Church in Stornoway.

Beyond the parish he has served the church in several ways including as Moderator of the Presbytery of Lewis, member and Vice Covener of the Panel on Doctrine, Queen’s Chaplain, Covener of the Mission and Discipleship Council and as a member of the Special Commission on Same-sex Relationships and the Ministry.

He and his wife Marion have four children between the ages of 16 and [29].

In today’s announcement Rev. Morrison expresses his hopes and vision for the Assembly and the Kirk as a whole:

The Church exists, not for itself, but as God’s agent for the extending of His kingdom’s just and gracious rule in the world.

The mission of our Lord continues, and it is our privilege and responsibility to join him in this. In that connection, good news stories are plentiful of faithful and imaginative work going on in congregations and parishes throughout Scotland.

Despite all the problems we face, God’s Spirit is evidently at work among us. The challenge before us is to resist distraction, allowing the commission given to us by Jesus himself, to ‘go and make disciples’, to remain firmly at the top of our agenda.

My main hope and prayer for the year ahead is that it may be possible to encourage a fresh focus on the centralities of our faith and calling, and that we may find new ways to bring encouragement and support to one another, so that in the power of the Holy Spirit, the vital ministries with which we have been entrusted, in fellowship with all God’s people, may truly flourish, for the enrichment of the people of Scotland and beyond.

Needless to say, I am not the only one having a little fun with this repeat performance and a couple of the select news headlines include:

Second chance at Kirk moderator job for Dr Angus Morrison (originally titled “Church moderator makes comeback”) – from BBC News

Respected Kinross-shire minister gets second chance to lead Church of Scotland – from Scottish Daily Record

And so, we rejoice with Rev. Morrison and his family at his restored health and recovery from surgery and once again wish him well and offer our prayers as he prepares for the Assembly and undertakes his moderatorial year.

New Free Church Of Scotland Moderator-Designate

A couple of days ago the Free Church of Scotland announced that at the Commission of Assembly meeting the Rev. David Robertson of Dundee was selected as the Moderator-designate for the 2015 General Assembly.

Rev. Robertson is the pastor of St. Peters Free Church in Dundee and director of the Solas Center for Public Christianity.

Rev. Robertson has been at St. Peters for almost 22 years and in that time the congregation has grown from eight people to over two hundred on Sundays now. In addition St. Peters has a sister church plant in St. Andrews and there are plans for one in City of Discovery. His previous, and first, call was to Brora Free Church in Sutherland.

His nomination as the Moderator-designate is made even more notable in light of his life-threatening medical problems in 2011 requiring surgery on his stomach and lungs and a five week stay in the intensive care unit.

Reacting to the appointment, the Free Church article quotes Rev. Robertson as saying:

It is an honour and a privilege to be able to serve in this way, especially at such an exciting time for both the Free Church and Scotland.

We are a growing and developing church, reversing the trend in a society which is becoming increasingly secularised and in a nation which is seeing significant changes.

My hope is that the Free Church will continue to bring the Good News to all the people of Scotland and beyond and that the Lord will use us as salt and light to help his people, of whatever denomination, and to see Scotland return to its Christian foundations.

Typically, for a Moderator-designate article I would stop here giving my best wishes and prayers and be done. But those who are familiar with Rev. Robertson’s work know there is much more to the story. To the wider community in Scotland he may be the most recognized minister in the Free Church. As the press release says:

David is widely regarded as one of Scotland’s boldest Christian broadcasters, regularly taking on atheists at media and student union events, as well as an increasingly popular author on persuasive evangelism for Christians.

And maybe you recognize him from his blogging and tweeting as @theweeflea. And the paragraph above is being very diplomatic when it says “one of Scotland’s boldest.” He is not afraid to engage ANYONE for the cause of the Gospel and has developed a reputation for that which is viewed differently depending on your perspective.

There is a great insight into Rev. Robertson in an article in the Press and Journal where former Moderator Rev. David Meredith says of him:

David has the uncanny knack of speaking about the ‘elephant in the room’ and his recent illness, which brought him to the very gates of death, have made him impatient with cant and bluster.

He is a man who realises that life is brief and eternity is endless and I have no hesitation in saying that he is one of the most godly people I know.

In light of how he is viewed in various sectors of society I have been intrigued with how his nomination has been cast in the headlines. A few samples…

New Free Church of Scotland Moderator announced – Premier Christian Radio (Straight forward, no spin)

‘Visionary’ named as new moderator of Free Church – Press and Journal (But you have to read far into the article to realize those are probably not scare quotes but just requoting a description from the article?)

Outspoken Dundee minister named Free Church Moderator – Herald Scotland

Anti-gay minister named Free Church Moderator – KaleidoScot (Considering the Free Church’s ordination standards and position against same-sex marriage this news outlet could probably use this headline for any Free Church Moderator-designate. On the other hand, they consider Rev. Robertson’s outspoken nature particularly detrimental to the civility of the debate and sending a message to the Church of Scotland at this time.)

UPDATE: Regarding that last article, KaleidoScot has published a response from Rev. Robertson.

So as we look forward to the 2015 General Assembly we can probably say with some confidence that it will be an interesting year. Our prayers are with Rev. Robertson for the time of preparation, his work moderating the General Assembly and for his moderatorial year. Our congratulations and best wishes.

Presbyterian Church in Canada Moderator Elect first elder to serve

Hi there fellow junkies,
Caught this one on a news feed.  The moderator elect of the PC in Canada will be the first elder to serve as moderator of GA.  We in the PC(USA) have been used to Elders as moderator of GA for a while now.

Here is an article from the Toronto Sun: http://torontosun.com/Lifestyle/2006/04/30/1557516-sun.html (link is now broken)