The Irish Presbyterian Church’s general secretary, the Rev Trevor Gribben, has underlined democracy as one of the strengths and hallmarks of Presbyterianism.
Mr Gribben, looking ahead to the Church’s four-day General Assembly in Belfast this week, said these were important times of coming together, discussion and debate.
“Decisions are taken that can affect the direction the church takes for years to come,” he said.
The General Assembly will open on Monday evening with a service at which the new Moderator, the Rev Ian McNie, minister of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Ballymoney, will be installed.
Dr McNie, who will serve for one year, replaces the present Moderator the Rev Dr Michael Barry.
It is 175 years since the first General Assembly was held in 1840.
Among the 1,000-plus gathering at the Assembly Hall on Monday will be 600 ministers of the church, several hundred elders, together with 100 civic guests and representatives of other churches.
• The installation of the new Moderator will be broadcast live from 7pm on BBC Radio Ulster medium wave, and will be streamed live on the Church’s website.