The incoming Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland Reverend Ian McNie has reaffirmed his church’s support for the traditional view of marriage. He spoke at a service tonight at Assembly Buildings in Belfast to mark the start of the church’s General Assembly.
Dr McNie, 64, of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Ballymoney, took over as Moderator from Reverend Michael Barry. He was nominated by 12 out of the 19 presbyteries who met across Ireland in February. Dr McNie was formally elected and installed at the service. His son, Reverend Stephen McNie from Ballyalbany church in Monaghan, said one of the prayers during the service.
Dr McNie spoke of an increasing intolerance to the church’s world view on a range of issues from the beginning and ending of life, the family dynamic, freedom of conscience and the sanctity of marriage. In reaffirming the church’s commitment to “the biblical and historical position of marriage,” he also recognised society’s right to express its opinion. At the same time he said the church had “the right to expect the same level and proportion of tolerance afforded to us that other groups expect afforded to them. Tolerance is a two-way street”, he told the congregation.
Earlier the outgoing Moderator Reverend Michael Barry also spoke in defence of the traditional view of marriage. He said:
“We are clear on what we believe about biblical marriage – that it is between one man and one woman. And there is much more. But our (Presbyterian) beliefs are grounded on Scripture as the Word of God, which is as relevant today as it was when it was written. Not everyone likes what we believe. But we do not conform to the world’s opinions. We do not change our beliefs to fit in with the ways of the world. There will be times we are out of step.”
Unlike some previous years, there was no official representative of the Roman Catholic church at the opening service. Tomorrow guests will be formally welcomed from the following churches:
- Church of Scotland
- United Reformed Church
- Presbyterian Church of Wales
- Church of Ireland (represented at the service by the Bishop of Clogher, Right Reverend John McDowell)
- The Methodist Church in Ireland
- Irish Council of Churches
- Religious Society of Friends
- Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian
- Scripture Union Malawi
- Presbyterian Church of East Africa
- Presbyterian Church of Pakistan
- The Christian Presbyterian Church of Portugal