Dublin minister to be next Moderator of the Presbyterian Church 

by Gazette Reporter
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For the first time in nearly a quarter of a century, a minister from a congregation in the Republic of Ireland will become Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI). Rev Dr Sam Mawhinney, the minister of Adelaide Road Presbyterian Church in Dublin was elected Moderator-Designate of the all-island denomination on February 7 in the Church’s annual election for its principal public representative.

Brought up in Ballycastle in County Antrim, the 60 year-old father of three received the most votes from the Church’s 19 regional presbyteries when they met in various locations across Ireland. Dr Mawhinney, who has been minister of the city centre church since 2008, will be the denomination’s 178th Moderator since 1840.

Dr Mawhinney was one of two nominees for the Church to choose from this year, which traditionally elects the Moderator-Designate on the first Tuesday in February. He will be formally elected as Moderator by the Church’s General Assembly in June and will be the first Moderator from a congregation in the Republic of Ireland since the year 2000, when County Dublin minister, Rev Trevor Morrow of Lucan Presbyterian Church, was elected to lead the Church. Until then Dr Mawhinney will be known as the Moderator-Designate and continue to serve in his congregation.

Speaking about his election, the Moderator-Designate said, “I am genuinely surprised and humbled by my election this evening. It is a position I have not sought, but happily accept as God’s will for my life. While in some respects it is quite a daunting task, I know that God’s help is promised for every task we are called to and I therefore thank Him for the opportunity to serve the Church in the year ahead.”

Today he ministers to around 110 families in the city centre congregation totalling around 150 people. “We are in the heart of inner city south Dublin where Adelaide Road has become an international church. For many years we were happy to share our church building with the Dublin Korean Church until recently and still welcome the Japanese Christian Fellowship that meet in our building once a month.

“We are Bible-centred and evangelical, with a heart for serving the local community. In preparing God’s people for those works of service, we seek to serve one another in love and encourage engagement with the local community in mission that is relationship based and gospel focused. Our ethos tries to hold this outward focus,” Dr Mawhinney said.

Describing his own ministry, Dr Mawhinney said, “I believe that when God’s word is taught, God’s word is heard. I therefore see preaching as my primary task and have sought to preach well and relevantly throughout my ministry. For many years I have attended regularly the Irish Preachers Conference and presently serve on its organising committee.”

Dr Mawhinney will be the 11th minister serving in a Dublin congregation to become Moderator and the third serving in Adelaide Road to be elected. Dr Mawhinney’s immediate predecessor at Adelaide Road, Rev Dr Frank Sellar, was elected Moderator in 2016, eight years after he left. Thinking about his forthcoming year in office, he said, “While a little daunted, I am very much looking forward to serving Christ in a very different way. During my time, I would like to highlight the work of God in Ireland, particularly south of the border where I have lived, raised our three children with my wife Karen and ministered for nearly 25 years.

“I am genuinely excited by the green shoots of Church growth and want to encourage us to look outside of ourselves. As we witness a rising tide of society’s unbelief we need to remind ourselves that “if God is for us”, as we read in Romans 8:31, we are able to deal with the reality of a changing Ireland and begin to move forward and rediscover the confidence and the blessing of our faith.”

Dr Mawhinney continued, “As Moderator I am looking forward to sharing with the church this vision of confident Christianity. I am also looking forward to having a front row seat and being able to travel and visit the Church across Ireland. It will be a real blessing to have an opportunity to support and pastor our ministers and people.”

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