New Moderator to be installed on 1 June

Photo above – Moderator-Designate, Rev David Bruce,

The Moderator-Designate, Rev David Bruce, will be installed as the denomination’s new Moderator on the evening of Monday, 1 June, in a special event which will be livestreamed from Assembly Buildings in Belfast, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland announced today.

The installation will take place on what would have been the Opening Night of this year’s General Assembly. The annual meeting was cancelled last month due to the current Coronavirus emergency and a small 25 person Standing Commission of the General Assembly has been appointed to transact necessary business, including the installation of the new Moderator for the year 2020 / 2021. Traditionally, the service from the historic Assembly Hall, would have been attended by upwards of 900 people from across Ireland, including past moderators, civic dignitaries, and representatives from other churches across Europe, Africa and Asia.

This year, apart from technical support, only four people will be physically present – the outgoing Moderator, Rt Rev Dr William Henry, Moderator-Designate, Rev David Bruce and the Clerk and Deputy Clerk of the General Assembly, the Revs Trevor Gribben and Jim Stothers. Other people will be participating remotely in the livestream from the Assembly Hall, leading in prayer and praise and reading from the Scriptures. Also taking part, but remotely via a video conferencing platform, will be the members of the 2020 Standing Commission, which has been set up to conduct all necessary business of this year’s Assembly. Monday evening will be one of their main tasks – electing the incoming Moderator, PCI’s most senior office-bearer and principal public representative.

Rev Trevor Gribben, Clerk of the General Assembly and General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (left) with the Moderator-Designate and Press Officer, Mark Smith, at the Assembly Buildings news conference the day after Mr Bruce’s nomination in February.

Speaking about the installation, Rev Trevor Gribben, Clerk of the General Assembly and General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland said, “If we think back to that cold winter’s evening of 4 February, when our Church’s 19 regional Presbyteries met and nominated David Bruce as our next Moderator, who would have thought that so many of the things that we have taken for granted, would have changed so much in such a short space of time?

“As I have said before, our General Assembly has been part of the rhythm of our Church life since 1840. It is the Presbyterian family coming together, and as far as I am aware a meeting has never been cancelled, only postponed, due to a different kind of national emergency in 1940.”

Mr Gribben continued, “Yet, unprecedented times often call for unprecedented responses, and like many organisations, we have found it necessary to find different ways of working to do what needs to be done, and this includes the installation of our new Moderator.”

Outlining the service of installation, Mr Gribben explained that the four people present, along with the couple of technicians in the Assembly Hall, would follow all appropriate health and safety precautions, including observing government guidance on social distancing in the large hall, which normally holds over 900 people.

The Installation, which is being livestreamed and can be watched via the PCI website, [ www.presbyterianireland.org), ]will start at 7pm with an introduction and call to worship from the outgoing Moderator, Dr Henry. He will give a short address about his year in office and his theme, ‘Enjoying God’. Following a worship song from members of Dr Henry’s home congregation, Maze Presbyterian near Lisburn, the Clerk of the General Assembly will then formally propose David Bruce as Moderator, with the Deputy Clerk seconding the nomination. The members of the 2020 Standing Commission will then be asked to elect PCI’s new Moderator for 2020 / 2021.

Following the election, Dr Henry will then pray for David Bruce, installing him as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. He will then take the Moderator’s Chair for the first time and give his address. During the evening, Scripture readings and prayers will be led remotely by the Chaplains of both the outgoing and incoming Moderators. The installation will close with a final hymn and the Benediction, which will be pronounced by the new Moderator, by then, the Rt Rev Dr David Bruce, the 175th person to hold the office.

Trevor Gribben concluded by saying, “This is always a special moment in the life of our Church and for our new moderators and their family. This year, by necessity, it will also be a different kind of ceremony for a particularly unique time in our history. We very much hope that many will join us by watching the livestream on the night.”