Catholic priest Father Patrick McCafferty, from Crossgar, appeared as a character witness for Mr McConnell.
Fr McCafferty, who grew up in the shadow of the Whitewell Tabernacle in north Belfast, said while they differed on theological matters, the pair were friends.
They first met almost 20 years ago when he went to see the pastor to discuss “person to person” a doctrinal matter on which they disagreed.
“We had a good conversation and good discussion and parted as friends,” he said.
“When this present situation arose I was anxious to do what I could to help him,” he added. “I can say that Pastor McConnell has no hatred for anyone whatsoever and the people of his church are not people who go out in this community and cause trouble, they are the exact opposite.”