A FORMER Crossgar man has been selected as the next Moderator of the Presbyterian Church.
Rev Noble McNeely, currently minister at First Holywood Church, will be officially installed in early June during the Presbyterian Church’s General Assembly.
The 63 year-old minister was nominated for the most senior role within the Presbyterian Church by 10 of the church’s 19 presbyteries last week when they met across Ireland to elect a successor to the current Moderator, the Rt Rev Dr Frank Sellar.
Known as the Moderator-Designate, Mr McNeely will officially take up office as the church’s most senior office bearer and principal public representative when he is formally elected and installed in early summer. He is the 178th Moderator of the Presbyterian Church.
Mr McNeely, who is a former teacher, said he is “sincerely humbled” by his nomination and explained that having served the wider church in a number of roles, he sees his nomination as Moderator as “another opportunity to serve Christ and His church.”
He continued: “At the same time, I recognise the responsibility that has been entrusted to me and I pray that with God’s help and the prayers of the church, I will be able to fulfil expectations.”
Born in Belfast, Mr. McNeely was brought up in Crossgar where his family worshipped at Lissara Presbyterian Church. He attended Crossgar Primary School and Downpatrick Technical College, before gaining a degree in education at Stranmillis College, specialising in jewellery and silversmithing.
Following his graduation, he taught craft and design at Deramore High School — now Balmoral High — in Belfast for two years before starting his studies at the Church’s Union Theological College in 1978, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity in 1981.
After completing his training, Mr McNeely was licensed in his home church of Lissara in 1981 and ordained as assistant Minister in Belfast’s Fisherwick Presbyterian Church in 1982, before being called to the Co Antrim congregation of First Ballymoney in 1984 where he served for 13 years.
Married to Florence, who is a physiotherapist, they have three adult children and in 1997 the family moved back to Co Down when Mr McNeely became Minister of First Holywood, a congregation of some 380 families of around 890 people.
“A big influence on my call to ministry has involved youth work and evangelism with Evangelical Youth Movement,” he said. “I have always been keen on sport, using it as a means of reaching people for Christ. I’ve had some experience in chaplaincy in sport and believe this is a great
avenue for evangelism to young people as well.”
Mr McNeely, who played hockey for Portrush, said that throughout his ministry, he has always had a strong emphasis on evangelism and concentrated on equipping people to be able to share their faith in everyday life, “trusting that an emphasis on God’s Word will encourage them to increase their knowledge of the Bible and apply the Lord’s teaching in their life.”
Looking to the year ahead, Mr McNeely said 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, explaining that he hopes that during his time as Moderator he can emphasise and preach on some of the great principles and doctrines of the Reformation, such as ‘justification by faith alone.”
Mr McNeely added: “I am also looking forward to visiting and encouraging congregations across Ireland and having been involved in ministerial training as convener of the Church body responsible for it for most of the past decade, I look forward to visiting the more recent generation of ministers and possibly giving them some encouragement in their ministry.”
A passionate Spurs supporter, Mr McNeely often makes the trip to White Hart Lane, but he has discounted any regular trips to the ground during his year in office, explaining walking and travelling with his wife is the main way in which he relaxes, also enjoying DIY and watching sport.