An extremely long-serving minister who died at the weekend has left a legacy which “will live on for many years”, his family have said.
Free Presbyterian Kenneth Elliott was second only to the church’s founder Rev Ian Paisley when it came to his skills as an evangelist, said long-time friend David McIlveen.
It is understood Rev Elliott died after being taken ill at home in Portadown on Saturday.
Aged in his mid-70s, he had been experiencing heart trouble.
He had served at Bethany Free Presbyterian Church in Portadown for 43 years, and before that had been based in Omagh.
Rev Elliott’s son John, speaking on behalf of the family circle, said: “Words cannot convey the pain that we feel at this time.
“Whilst we share unbelievable grief we also feel immense honour and pride that we are are able to call him our dad and husband.
“His life’s work, ministry, example and leadership will live on for many years to come, in our hearts and lives and in many, many others also.”
Prominent Free Presbyterian Rev David McIlveen told the News Letter that he had retired as minister in Portadown a couple of years ago, but continued to work as interim moderator for Lurgan.
He had “remained really active up until the last week”, he said.
It is thought he was admitted to hospital the previous weekend with heart problems, then released home, before becoming unwell again.
Rev McIlveen said: “He was a very close friend – we were both ordained at the same time.
“He was certainly not only a gentleman but a very gracious and generous person, and one who will be sadly missed in the Free Presbyterian fraternity, and much further afield.
“And I think anyone who was privileged to have known him would’ve been greatly influenced by his spirit and by his very gentle contribution to life.
“He just was very supportive of Dr Paisley, and he was just someone you would want to know.
“He was a gifted evangelist. Probably out of all of us, apart from Dr Paisley, he would’ve been the gifted evangelist that we had in our denomination, and that reflected very much in the number of lives he influenced through his ministry.
“He will certainly be really missed – I couldn’t emphasise that enough.
“It’s a real shock to all of us.”
He was married with three children.
Rev Elliott’s funeral is provisionally planned for Tuesday at 1pm in Bethany Free Presbyterian Church.
He will be laid to rest in Kernan Cemetery, Portadown.