East Belfast-based minister Frank Sellar has been elected to become the new Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
The 57-year-old father of three, who is originally from Coleraine, was nominated by 18 of the Church’s 19 presbyteries.
He was succeeding current moderator Rev Ian McNie at the church’s General Assembly in June.
Rev Sellar, who is the son of late artist Robert G Sellar, two decades ministering in the Republic of Ireland.
He is currently minister of Bloomfield Presbyterian Church in east Belfast.
“It has been a huge privilege to have been involved in a lifetime of leadership in local congregations, south and north,” he said.
“I’m humbled that the wider Church has trusted me with this responsibility, granting fresh opportunities of mission, which this year as Moderator of the General Assembly will bring, not only serving the wider church, but society throughout the whole of Ireland and further afield.”
The new moderator emerged from a three way election involving Rev Robert Bell of Ballyclare Presbyterian Church and Rev Tony Davidson of First Presbyterian Church, Armagh.
As well as family life, Rev Sellar said he enjoys walking his labradoodle on the north coast, current affairs, broadcasting and the occasional bit of skiing.
The minister will be the 177th Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland since the election of the Dr Samuel Hanna in 1840.
According to the Presbyterian Church, Rev Sellar’s “passion for people” has encouraged his congregation to actively engage with their local community centre, by taking the lead in summer schemes, homework clubs and through a youth club tailored specifically for children with autism and severe learning difficulties. The facility also provides support for the children’s parents.
Having ministered in the Republic of Ireland for 20 years and a further 11 years north of the border, the new moderator has the vision that the church he now heads serves as “a vibrant Reformed witness throughout every province in the island” and one that is “welcoming to all, irrespective of background, culture or ethnicity”.
He said: “I am looking forward to my year as Moderator.
“Christians are never permitted to be isolationists. We are called to learn from and share with our brothers and sisters in the worldwide Church, participating with them in the urgent task of world evangelism, stewardship of the earth’s resources and challenging injustice, poverty and oppression in Jesus’ name.”