Presbyterian Church in Ireland elects youngest ever Moderator

The Rev William Henry

The Rev William Henry is set to become the new Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. 

The 50-year-old is the youngest person ever to be elected to the post, which he will formally assume in June. 

He succeeds the current Moderator, Dr Charles McMullen, after receiving the largest share of the votes across the Church's 19 presbyteries on Tuesday. 

'I am deeply honoured to have been chosen in this manner, and thank God for the opportunity to serve Him in a new way over the next year. I will trust Him for the way ahead,' he said. 

'I have a strong belief that the gospel is good news and that the Church is to do good for people. In many aspects, both inside and outside the Church, I believe this part of Christian discipleship can be overlooked. I need to remind myself of the many practical expressions of Christian love that are demonstrated daily.'

Rev Henry is minister of Maze Presbyterian Church in County Antrim, where he has served since 1997. The church is home to 240 families, comprising 600 people in total. 

Since 2001, he has had the additional responsibility of Ballinderry Presbyterian and its congregation of around 100 families. 

He said the theme for his year in office as Moderator would be 'enjoying God'. 

'When we enjoy God, prayer and worship become real and meaningful because there is a sense that God has come near. That will result in practical service for Jesus,' he said.

'Encountering God is always radical and disruptive. However, the Church can become casual and forgetful of the presence of God; and wider society has a tendency to be self-contained or self-reliant - the effect for both is that they attempt to live without a recognition of dependence upon God.

'I would wish to use the year ahead that I have to speak about this message and explore with people what it means to 'Enjoy God,' both to the Church and wider society. I want to bear witness to what I might call the surprising and unsettling presence of God - the one who offers fullness in Jesus.' 

The election of Rev Henry was welcomed by the Church of Ireland. 

The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, the Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke, said: 'On behalf of the Church of Ireland, I wish to congratulate the Rev William Henry, and to wish him every blessing in the ministry he is about to undertake in leadership of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

'I look forward to working alongside him in the Church Leaders' group following his installation in June.'