Unlike votes for local political elections which can only be counted during daylight hours, the Presbyterian abacus was able to declare Rev John Finlay from Harryville, Ballymena as the Moderator Designate for the Presbyterian Church in Ireland shortly after 9pm tonight. (Updated with a photo from the BBC!)
Unfortunately, the BBC got the story up before the Presbyterian Church's website was updated!
John Finlay (61) will take over from David Clarke on the opening night of the General Assembly on Monday 4 June.
So another year without 21 different nominations! But the press release does explain that the Presbyteries voted more widely than normal, with six names put forward:
- 9 – John Finlay (Harryville, Ballymena)
- 5 – Joe Fell (Ebrington, Londonderry)
- 3 – Wilfred Orr (Newtownbreda)
- 2 – Donald Patton (Old Church, Randalstown)
- 1 – Derek McKelvey (Fisherwick, Belfast)
- 1 – Willis Cordner (First Bangor)
John Finlay is a past pupil of Portadown College (named as suitable for review in George Bain's recent report). He was installed as a minister in Harryville in 1982, having worked as an assistant in Ulsterville (on the Lisburn Road, Belfast) and started his first solo charge in Castledawson and Curran in 1973.
Following his election, he commented:
"Apart from surprise, I'm overwhelmed by the sense of responsibility placed in me but I accept this honour out of a desire to serve Christ and the Church."
He considers the church to be in state of transition as it faces "the exciting challenge of changing into the different sort of church needed to impact a secular post modern generation". He describes his ministry as one of "bringing people to personal faith and encouraging and strengthening them in that faith."