Rev Dr Samuel Hutchinson - long-serving former clerk and ex-moderator of the Irish Presbyterian Church - dies in hospital following illness

Warm words have been offered for former Presbyterian moderator and clerk Rev Dr Samuel Hutchinson, who died in hospital on Friday after a short illness, aged 84.

Sunday, 21st November 2021, 11:55 am
Updated Sunday, 21st November 2021, 12:07 pm
Samuel Hutchinson

Dr Hutchinson, who is survived by his wife Margaret, was described last night as “a remarkable Christian leader” by another former moderator, the Rev Dr Norman Hamilton.

“Sam Hutchinson was not a high profile public leader, but one who influenced, guided and mentored many of his colleagues, as well as exercising a parallel ministry for the Presbyterian church as a whole, and the wider church of Christ in Ireland,” said Dr Hamilton.

“Sam was wise – very wise.

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“He was discretion personified, and so very approachable.

“He was Godly, thoughtful, had an enormous memory and was meticulously efficient without being a box-ticker.

“He sought to do what was right, simply because it was the right thing to do as a follower of Christ and as a servant of the Lord’s people and the wider public good.

“It was simply a delight to know him, and it was a privilege for all of us in Irish Presbyterianism to have him as one of our outstanding leaders in the church for so many years.”

BIOGRAPHY OF A LOYAL CHURCHMAN:

The Rev Dr Samuel Hutchinson was born in Belfast in 1937, and brought up with the Berry Street congregation (a church which now stands just outside the back of CastleCourt shopping centre in the middle of the city, near St Mary’s Chapel).

He was educated at Queen’s University (with a BA in Classics) and then studied at Presbyterian College.

He was posted to Oldpark church in north Belfast, where he was assistant minister, then ministered at Gilford and Clare congregations from 1966 before becoming deputy clerk of the Presbyterian general assembly in 1985.

He became assembly clerk in 1990, serving 13 years in that most senior post.

He was Presbyterian moderator in 1997-98 and retired from full-time church work in 2003.

Dr Hutchinson was also convenor of the church’s Jewish mission, and the racism committee (1979 to 1986) and peace and peace-making committee (1987-1990).

A tribute to him, recorded in the church’s own archives from the time when he retired as clerk in 2003, says he had “a wealth of experience seldom found in

such high leadership”.

It states: “Widely read, he is quietly gracious, a soul of discretion, wise in advice, sound in judgement, careful in counsel, loyal to his church and to its office-bearers at every level.

“He is a peacemaker par excellence. What he does not know about PCI is hardly worth knowing.

“A man of deep personal faith and commitment to his Lord and Master, he instilled confidence and calmness to all whom he met... [he] often left people amazed at the sheer extent of his knowledge and the depth of his understanding.

“Our Church is deeply indebted to him for the selfless service given over the years.

“In this he was most ably assisted and supported at all times by his wife Margaret.

“We thank her for her loving, gracious and faithful support on so many occasions.

“We wish both Dr and Mrs Hutchinson many years of happy, healthy and busy retirement in the years ahead.”

Dr Hutchinson will have a private funeral committal followed by a service of thanksgiving for his life, held in Railway Street Presbyterian church, Lisburn, this coming Wednesday (November 24) at 3pm.

A funeral notice posted online says he died “peacefully” in hospital, adding: “Family home strictly private. No flowers, letters or telephone calls.”

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