The Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Rt. Rev. Dr. Ian McNie, began of tour of congregations in the Church’s Iveagh Presbytery on Sunday, an area which stretches from Newmills, near Portadown in County Armagh, to Newcastle on the County Down coast.
Iveagh is one of the Church’s 19 Presbyteries, which are local bodies that are made up of a minister and an elder from each congregation.
Iveagh comprises 27 churches in and around the towns and villages of Banbridge, Castlewellan, Rathfriland, Donacloney, Gilford, Loughbrickland, Tandragee and Lawrencetown, four of which are the oldest congregations in the denomination.
Visiting Presbyteries gives the Moderator the opportunity to preach in local churches, encourage the congregations, as well as seeing for himself what they are doing in the communities in which God has placed them – including a cross-community coffee morning in Castlewellan.
Speaking at the start of the tour, when he preached in Tandragee on Sunday morning and Tullylish in the evening, Dr. McNie said, “This is the third and final tour of my year as Moderator, and as with the previous tours, we hope that our visit will encourage those we meet.
“As we come together with our fellow church members and those working in the community, we never fail to be inspired and encouraged.
“Personally, I always enjoy visiting and preaching in congregations within our denomination, as well as meeting those individuals who work hard in their local communities,” he said.
Accompanied by his wife Anne, while Dr. McNie’s visit is chiefly pastoral, he will also attend some community projects and visit a number of schools, including Banbridge Academy, Castlewellan Primary School and Rathriland High. During his visits he will attend assemblies, meet staff and participate in a RE class.
During the week he will also attend a Mid Week Meeting in Garvaghy Presbyterian Church, meet members of Ballydown congregation and attend a Presbytery Meeting at Scarva Street Presbyterian Church in Banbridge.
He will also visit Banbridge Police Station, allowing Dr. McNie the time to offer encouragement and support to the police officers. He will also be briefed on some of the policing issues the local community in the area faces.
The tour will end on Sunday when Dr. McNie will preach at a joint service in the morning, and he will speak in Donacloney Presbyterian Church in the evening.