PRESBYTERIANS’ VIEW ON MARRIAGE

Newly installed Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Reverend Ian McNie from Ballymoney.

Newly installed Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Reverend Ian McNie from Ballymoney.

NEW PRESBYTERIAN MODERATOR HAS A MONAGHAN LINK

Michael Fisher  Northern Standard  Thursday 4th June

The new Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Reverend Ian McNie, who was installed at the start of the General Assembly in Belfast on Monday evening, has an important link with County Monaghan. One of Dr McNie’s two sons is also a clergyman and is based in North Monaghan. Reverend Stephen McNie was installed last year as Minister at Ballyalbany Presbyterian Church outside Monaghan town, and Glennan Church near Glaslough.

Reverend Stephen McNie, Monaghan (right), watches as his father Reverend Ian McNie takes over from Dr Michael Barry as Presbyterian Moderator  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Reverend Stephen McNie, Monaghan (right), watches as his father Reverend Ian McNie takes over from Dr Michael Barry as Presbyterian Moderator Photo: © Michael Fisher

Dr Ian McNie is Minister of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Ballymoney. He was elected by presbyteries from across Ireland when they met in February to elect a successor to the Dr Michael Barry from Newry. Dr McNie was nominated by twelve presbyteries, including Monaghan, out of the nineteen.

Newly installed Presbyterian Moderator Reverend Ian McNie Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Newly installed Presbyterian Moderator Reverend Ian McNie Photo: © Michael Fisher

He describes himself as a conservative evangelical and this was apparent during the installation service at Assembly Buildings. Unlike some previous years, there was no official representative of the Catholic Church among the guests, although the Irish Council of Churches was invited. The Bishop of Clogher Right Reverend John McDowell represented the Church of Ireland.

New Presbyterian Moderator Reverend Ian McNie (centre) with his son Reverend Stephen McNie, Monaghan (left) and Bishop of Clogher Rt Rev John McDowell (right)  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

New Presbyterian Moderator Reverend Ian McNie (centre) with his son Reverend Stephen McNie, Monaghan (left) and Bishop of Clogher Rt Rev John McDowell (right) Photo: © Michael Fisher

Ian McNie is the 176th Moderator since the election of the Very Reverend Dr Samuel Hanna in 1840. He sees his ministry substantially as a parish ministry, confining himself to work within the congregation and district.

“As a conservative evangelical, I recognise that we are living in the 21st Century and therefore seek to steer the congregation in such a way that we do not cling to the traditions of the past, but seek to be relevant today. At the same time, I also recognise that the truth of the Gospel has not changed and we should not allow society to pressure us into departing from the core values of the Scriptures.”

Dr McNie was brought up in Antrim town and attended First Antrim Presbyterian Church, becoming a Christian at the age of 13. Having attended Belfast Royal Academy, he went on to Queen’s University, Belfast graduating with a Bachelor of Divinity. In his address at his installation the Moderator said the church today was facing an ever increasing intolerance:

“Opinions are expressed and laws enacted that are at variance with what we, as Christians, stand for. Values associated with the beginning and ending of life, the family dynamic, freedom of conscience and the sanctity of marriage are all under threat”, he said.

In the aftermath of the large ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum in the Republic on same-sex marriage, Dr McNie reaffirmed the Prebyterian church’s traditional view of marriage.  “As a church we want to unashamedly and unambiguously reaffirm our total commitment to the Biblical and historical position of marriage, that marriage is exclusively between one man and one woman, believing that this is God’s blueprint for the well being of society, and any redefinition of this position is not within His plan for His creation”, the Moderator said.

He said there was a perception that the Christian viewpoint was not always dignified with the credit and tolerance it deserved and the law had left too little room for religious belief. But as a church they also believed that society had the right to express its opinions, opinions that the church might well disagree with, and yet as a church they must defend the right of society to freely express their opinions, but in so doing they must not be behind the door in articulating clearly what they believed and why. Dr McNie said the church had the right to expect the same level and proportion of tolerance afforded to them that other groups expect to be afforded to themselves. Tolerance is a two-way street, he said.

Earlier in the service the outgoing Moderator, Reverend Dr Michael Barry of Sandys Street Presbyterian Church in Newry, reflected on his year in office, which included a visit to congregations in Monaghan and Cavan. He said the church was saddened by the result of the marriage referendum in the Republic. He also stressed the church’s traditional view on marriage. Dr Barry told the gathering:

“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 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 (when) we are out of step.”

“I want to speak to one other group who accuse us as Presbyterians of bias and attack, and that is the LBGT community. In recent campaigns we have been accused of being homophobic. I can state categorically that we as a church are not homophobic. We do not agree with such a life style. We believe it is contrary to the Bible’s teaching on marriage. We were saddened by the referendum in the Republic of Ireland, but we must be allowed to disagree without being smeared. And if there are any who take the name of Presbyterian and who are carrying on a hate campaign against the LBGT community. then they must stop.”

During the General Assembly’s debate on Tuesday on the report of the Council for Church in Society, church members had the opportunity to discuss some of the recent high profile matters dealt with by the Council, including the Ashers’ Bakery Court Case in Belfast and the marriage referendum.

In presenting the report of the Council, its Convenor, Very Reverend Dr Norman Hamilton spoke of the issues raised by the referendum on same sex marriage, calling them profound and “extremely challenging to both church and state – North and South.”

He also said that the Church needed to think hard and rigorously about how it presented its convictions to a society which was less and less inclined to accept core biblical teaching, and how those convictions were to be worked out compassionately and graciously in a myriad of different circumstances.

On freedom of conscience in the public square and the recent Ashers’ judgement, Dr. Hamilton spoke of promoting the concept of ‘reasonable accommodation’ and how it should be incorporated into law. “We are not seeking either an exemption from the law for people of faith or anyone else…We are simply arguing that people who have reasonable and deeply held convictions be allowed to express them in a reasonable way in every sphere of life, and that, if necessary, the courts can determine what is and what is not reasonable,” he said.

During the ensuing debate many Ministers from the Republic of Ireland spoke, including a number of former Moderators. One Dublin Minister said, “We need to engage with the diversity in our own Church.”

PRESBYTERIANS ON MARRIAGE

Reverend Ian McNie is installed as Presbyterian Moderator  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Reverend Ian McNie is installed as Presbyterian Moderator Photo: © Michael Fisher

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.

Presbyterian Moderator Reverend Ian McNie Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Presbyterian Moderator Reverend Ian McNie Photo: © Michael Fisher

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.”

Reverend McNie’s remarks can be accessed here and those of the Reverend Barry here.

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

NEW PRESBYTERIAN MODERATOR

Presbyterian Moderator-Elect, Reverend Ian McNie, Ballymoney  Photo: Presbyterian Church website

Presbyterian Moderator-Designate, Reverend Ian McNie, Ballymoney Photo: Presbyterian Church website

A conservative evangelical Minister whose son is in charge of two churches in North Monaghan has been elected as the next Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. He is the Reverend Ian McNie, Minister of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Ballymoney, County Antrim.

The 64-year-old was nominated by twelve presbyteries including Monaghan out of the nineteen that met this evening (Tuesday) across Ireland to select a successor to the current Moderator, Reverend Michael Barry. Known as the Moderator-Designate, Mr McNie will officially take up office as Moderator at the start of the Church’s General Assembly on Monday 1st June.

Speaking about his nomination, Mr McNie said, “I am greatly humbled that so many of my colleagues in the ministry, and many ruling elders, within the various presbyteries have felt they could entrust me with this important responsibility within the Church.

Throughout my ministry I have sought to preach the Gospel with clarity and conviction, in such a way that people will be moved by the God’s Spirit to make a positive response to become Christians.

With God’s help and the prayer support of the Church, I would trust that during my year in office, lives would be impacted with the Gospel”, Mr McNie said.

The four nominees in this year’s annual vote were the Reverend Robert Bell, Minister of Ballyclare Presbyterian Church; Reverend Liz Hughes, Minister of Whitehouse Presbyterian Church, Newtownabbey; Reverend Ian McNie, Minister of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Ballymoney and Reverend Frank Sellar, Minister of Bloomfield Presbyterian Church in East Belfast.

Voting for each nominee was as follows:
• Rev. Ian McNie: 12 Votes – Armagh, Ballymena, Coleraine and Limavady, Down, Dromore, Iveagh, Monaghan, Newry, Route, Templepatrick, Tyrone, Omagh
• Rev. Liz Hughes: 4 votes – Ards, North Belfast, South Belfast, Derry and Donegal
• Rev. Frank Sellar: 2 votes: East Belfast, Dublin and Munster
• Rev. Robert Bell: 1 vote – Carrickfergus.

Ian McNie will be the 176th Moderator since the election of the Very Rev. Dr. Samuel Hanna in 1840. Describing himself as a ‘conservative evangelical’, he also sees his ministry substantially as a parish ministry, confining himself to work within the congregation and district.

“As a conservative evangelical, I recognise that we are living in the 21st Century and therefore seek to steer the congregation in such a way that we do not cling to the traditions of the past, but seek to be relevant today. At the same time, I also recognise that the truth of the Gospel has not changed and we should not allow society to pressure us into departing from the core values of the Scriptures.”

The ministry of the County Antrim congregation is wide reaching with a daily community playgroup, weekly mums and toddlers group, senior citizens bowling afternoon and a group for adults with special needs. The Church also works with a range of local youth organisations, conducts weekly services in various care homes and sends teams to Malawi to support the work of missionaries in the south-eastern African nation.

Born in 1950, he is married to Anne and has two sons, one of whom, Stephen, is the Minister of Ballyalbany and Glennan Presbyterian Churches in County Monaghan. Mr McNie was brought up in Antrim and attended First Antrim Presbyterian Church, becoming a Christian at the age of 13. Having attended Belfast Royal Academy, he went on to Queen’s University, Belfast graduating with a Bachelor of Divinity.

As a teenager Mr McNie wanted to become a teacher, but felt God’s call to the ministry, a step he says he has never regretted. Having attended Union Theological College, he was ordained as Assistant Minister at Alexandra Presbyterian Church, Belfast in 1978 before being installed in 1980 at Kilkeel Presbyterian Church in County Down. He became Minister at Trinity in 1991.

As well as family life – he will become a grandfather for the first time later this month – Mr McNie enjoys running and walking and takes an interest in the projects his church supports in Malawi, having visited the country on many occasions.

Reflecting on the General Assembly’s theme for 2015 ‘A caring fellowship’ Mr McNie said: “Throughout my ministry I have sought to preach the Gospel in such a way that people will be moved by the Spirit to make a positive response to become disciples of Jesus Christ. The Church today is God’s answer to both the fundamental needs of the individual and society. We need to look beyond ourselves and re-examine the ways in which we include those who are often considered outsiders and become enriched by them.”

“During my year of office I would hope to be given the opportunity to present the Gospel in many different situations, both within the church and community, to learn from the experiences of others and to encourage congregations to be proactive in their presentation of the Word of God. I would also look forward to the opportunity to encourage ministers and their families, particularly those who have just started their ministry”, he said.