Presbyterian church’s new rural chaplain hits the ground running

Rev Kenny Hanna started work this week as the first rural chaplain to be appointed with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 13th November 2021, 7:10 am
PCI’s Chaplaincy Secretary, Rev Robert Bell, Acting Secretary to the Council for Mission in Ireland, Rev Jim Stothers, PCI Moderator, Rt Rev Dr David Bruce, Rural Chaplain, Rev Kenny Hanna, Moderator of the Presbytery of Newry, Rev Robert McClure, and Rev Gareth McFadden, convener of PCI’s Rural Chaplaincy Task Group
PCI’s Chaplaincy Secretary, Rev Robert Bell, Acting Secretary to the Council for Mission in Ireland, Rev Jim Stothers, PCI Moderator, Rt Rev Dr David Bruce, Rural Chaplain, Rev Kenny Hanna, Moderator of the Presbytery of Newry, Rev Robert McClure, and Rev Gareth McFadden, convener of PCI’s Rural Chaplaincy Task Group

Having been commissioned and inducted into the pioneering role at a special service held in Mourne Presbyterian Church, Kilkeel, last Sunday, he has hit the ground running.

On Monday evening he was out with farmers at the Downpatrick Mart, Tuesday saw him at the Mart in Rathfriland and on Thursday he was at the sheep sale in Hilltown.

The new rural chaplin will operate in four of PCI’s 19 regional presbyteries – the Presbyteries of Armagh, Down, Iveagh, and Newry – which means that Mr Hanna’s focus will be on famers and farming families who work and live in all of Co Armagh and most of Co Down. The main function of the new role is to provide a chaplaincy service to the rural and farming communities prioritising the pastoral and spiritual needs that are associated with geographical and social isolation of those working in the rural and agri-food sectors.

Mr Hanna, who grew up on the family farm in the Kingdom of Mourne, had been in parish ministry since 2001, serving for the last 10 years as minister of Second Dromara Presbyterian Church.

He said: “If anything is to be done of eternal value through this post, Kenny Hanna will not do it, God will do it, and God will do that if we pray.

“This post is about Jesus, all about Him, centred on farmers and farming families.

“Farmers and farming families are massively important to me. I also want to make it clear that I am here for any farmer and any farming family from any background.”

Mr Hanna, who is married to Freda and has a son and daughter, said that he would be an accessible rural chaplain, both in person and via Facebook and Instagram, along with the Rural Chaplain’s diary, which will appear in the News Letter’s Farming Life supplement.

PCI’s Moderator Right Rev Dr David Bruce said that he had known Mr Hanna since the latter had became a Christian in the early 1990s.

Addressing the new rural chaplain, he said: “All 500-plus congregations, north, south, east and west, we are all in one way or another journeying with you, and we are just thrilled and delighted that we are at this stage.

“Kenny understands the context and setting that God has clearly called him to minister. May you know God’s blessing as you go about this strategically important work for the glory of Christ.”