Presbyterian General Assembly: Church meets for first time in two years

Ministers and elders from more than 500 Presbyterian congregations will gather in Belfast this morning for the all-Ireland denomination’s general assembly.

The Presbyterian General Assembly meets this week with various coronavirus mitigations in place
The Presbyterian General Assembly meets this week with various coronavirus mitigations in place

It will be the first general assembly in two years, following the cancellation of last year’s meeting due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Presbyterian Moderator, Right Rev Dr David Bruce, will begin his second term of office at the Opening Service of Worship, when he will give his address focusing on his first year in office and the year ahead.

Dr Bruce is only the seventh moderator to serve two terms in office since 1840, and the first to do so in the last 127 years.

The church said the assembly will be in person, but socially distanced, with various coronavirus mitigations in place.

Rev Trevor Gribben, clerk of the general assembly, said: “In an era that will be remembered for many things, including Zoom meetings and meetings via Microsoft Teams, I am really very thankful that with the easing of some Covid regulations and the opening up of society, we can gather together in person once more for fellowship, worship, prayer, Bible study, debate and decision making, which I think is really important.

“The business before us over the next three days will focus upon the life and mission of the church and also touch upon some of the challenging issues facing society across the island. These include climate change, in terms of divesting in fossil fuels, and human identity, to the UK government’s proposals on legacy and PCI’s support for the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland. There will also be much discussion on significant reports on how we do our business.”

Rev Gribben added: “The pandemic and its impact on society, the lives of individuals, families, church families and frontline workers at home, and Covid’s impact overseas, will also be reflected in the business before us, through a number of heartfelt resolutions that will pay tribute to, and thank those frontline workers, who have kept us safe and enabled essential services to be maintained across Ireland. That appreciation also extends in resolutions that pay tribute to everyone involved in schools.”

The a ssembly will conclude on Wednesday.