With the current incumbent only eight months into the role, Presbyterians select the next Moderator each year in February.
Rev Roy Patton topped the poll earlier tonight when each of the nineteen Presbyteries (regional clusters of ministers and their representative elders) met to independently nominate one of the five candidates.
The Moderator chairs the annual General Assembly – which will meet a week early this year at the end of May (due to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee holidays). Throughout the rest of the year, the moderator acts as a kind of ambassador for the denomination, visiting congregations across Ireland, as well as trips to overseas churches partnered with PCI and participation in civic events.
In previous years, if there was a tie at the February meeting of Presbytery, a second round of voting – a run-off – would be held in March. This year, the procedure has changed, and in the event of a tie, the run-off vote would have been conducted this evening. Tonight, that wasn’t necessary.
- 8 votes – Rev Roy Patton (Ballygilbert, Bangor)
- 4 votes – Rev John Dickinson (Carnmoney, North Belfast)
- 3 votes – Rev Joseph Andrews (Ballymena)
- 2 votes – Rev Rob Craig (Kilfennan, Derry)
- 2 votes – Rev Dr Donald Watts (Clerk of General Assembly)
Rev Roy Patton has been minister of the Ballygilbert congregation (on the main Belfast to Bangor road) for the last 17 years. Born in 1953 into a Monaghan farming family, he studied History, Philosophy and New Testament in Trinity College, Dublin and theology in New College in Edinburgh. Like all PCI ministers, he completed his training at Union Theological College.
He was ordained as assistant minister in St Enoch’s (1981), before receiving a call from Downshire Road congregation in Newry (1983). Along with his wife Daphne, Mr Patton has led church teams to Malawi, Kenya and Romania. Within the denomination, he has been the convener of the denomination’s Board of Mission in Ireland since 2006, encouraging local congregations to be more mission minded in reaching out to their local communities.
In a statement, the moderator designate said:
“I am humbled by my nomination as Moderator and am very aware of my own shortcomings and the responsibility of the office. However I know God will give me the strength to fulfil the task to which he has called me and I have the confidence of the support of my wife and the prayers of my congregation and wider church family and friends.”
The outgoing and incoming moderators appeared on the blog last June when I interviewed them a couple of days before the opening of the General Assembly week.