Tributes paid as well-known preacher Pastor James McConnell is laid to rest

Tributes have been paid to one of Northern Ireland’s best-known preachers as he was laid to rest.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 12:29 pm
Pastors of Whitewell Tabernacle carry the coffin of Pastor McConnell and are led by senior Pastor David Purse.

Children as far away as Ethiopia watched online the funeral of Pastor James McConnell at the Whitewell Tabernacle church he founded in north Belfast.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson and former DUP leader Edwin Poots were among those who attended in person.

Pastor Michael Bunting led the first of three tributes to Mr McConnell at the service on Wednesday, but said there could have been 300 more and 300 more again.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The late Pastor James McConnell.

He recalled his strong faith, how he founded the Whitewell church, recalled his work overseas and impact in the USA, describing how his influence stretched from “Newtowards to Nebraska”, as well as his love for a fish supper.

“He was a great prayer warrior who loved the gospel,” he said.

Pastor Jeff Wright of the Green Pastures Church in Ballymena also led a tribute, before Mr McConnell’s son-in-law Norman Hobson delivered the third on behalf of the family.

Mr Hobson recalled a humble start to Mr McConnell’s career, from a first meeting in 1957 to set up the Whitewell Tabernacle to how he had to patch up his shoes with cardboard.

Whitewell is now one of the largest churches in Northern Ireland.

The 84-year-old died on Saturday following an illness.

He had been receiving end-of-life care at the Royal Victoria Hospital in recent days.

Mr McConnell is survived by his wife Margaret and his daughters, Linda and Julie.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson expressed his sadness at the weekend.

“Pastor James McConnell touched lives around the world,” he said.

Mr McConnell hit headlines in 2014 after calling Islam “heathen” and “satanic” during a church sermon.

He was questioned by police and was later found not guilty of making grossly offensive remarks against Islam, after a trial at Belfast Magistrates’ Court that garnered worldwide attention.

---

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers — and consequently the revenue we receive — we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to newsletter.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Ben Lowry

Acting Editor