March The Presbyterian Church in Ireland could be compared with an oil tanker. A large stable structure with a large capacity, that turns slowly and sometimes reacts without undue haste. Decisions aren’t often rushed. Everything should be “done decently and in order”.
Last night’s annual vote to select the new Moderator held true to this approach. Each of the nineteen Presbyteries (down from the previous twenty one after a spot of boundary changes) met to independently nominate one of the six potential candidates to be the next Moderator.
In they end they only made the first half of their decision. They selected the forename: the next Moderator will definitely be called Norman.
However since it was a tie between Norman Hamilton and Norman McAuley, they’ve reserved judgement on the surname until the run-off vote between those two when Presbyteries next meet on Tuesday 2 March. Third tie in nine years.
- 5 votes - Rev Norman Hamilton (Ballysillan)
- 5 votes - Rev Norman McAuley (Greenwell Street, Newtownards)
- 4 votes - Rev Derek McKelvey (Fisherwick)
- 1 vote - Rev Roy Mackay (Second Comber)
- 4 votes - Rev Ivan Patterson (Newcastle)
- 0 votes - Rev Ruth Patterson (Restoration Ministries)
As the table below shows, there was a fair amount of consistency in the presbytery votes between February 2009 and 2010. Derek McKelvey and Norman Hamilton retained the support of most of the Presbyteries who voted for them last year. All the support for Norman McAuley came from Presbyteries who previously backed Stafford Carson (this year’s moderator).
Next month’s vote between the two Normans could be close.
Update - William Crawley has taken the analysis a lot further on his blog and called it for Norman Hamilton. If that doesn't accidentally galvanise the conservative vote for Norman McAuley, I'm not sure what will!