Presbyterian Moderator Rev Dr Michael Barry brought a message of encouragement to East Antrim during his tour of the district last week.
Dr Barry met church groups, members of the business community, political leaders, community workers, senior police officers, members of the public and schoolchildren during his visit.
The moderator has underlined the importance of thanking and encouraging those involved in providing public service, especially the PSNI.
“As a church, we believe in the force of law and order and keeping in touch with the police on a regular basis, especially as they may feel society is against them. We want to reassure them as a church and encourage them in this work,” he said.
The moderator’s tour commenced on Sunday, October 5 with a return to First Carrickfergus, his childhood church.
The Carrick man said that the visit had “brought back old memories” and he had seen “many familiar faces.”
During his eight-day visit to the Carrick Presbytery - which includes churches in Ballyclare, Ballylinney and Ballynure - he was welcomed to Kilcoan Primary School in Islandmagee, Model Primary in Carrickfergus (his former school) and Ballynure Primary.
In a show of support for local industry, the moderator visited LEDCOM and AES Ballylumford in Larne, Irish Salt Mining Exploration Co. Ltd. in Kilroot and Dennison Commercials in Ballyclare.
While in Ballyclare on Friday (October 10) he met up with local ministers Rev Robert Bell, Rev Emerson McDowell and Rev James Rogers for a walkabout around the town.
He visited more than a dozen local shops and service providers, chatting to traders about the economy and the problems facing many small business owners.
“We have been talking about the economy generally and the problems people are facing, especially over these past few years. But hopefully things are going to be improving over the next wee while and there seems to be more confidence about, and that’s something we would be pleased to hear,” he said.
Dr Barry, who also met with Newtownabbey Mayor Thomas Hogg at Mossley Mill on Friday afternoon, urged Northern Ireland’s political leaders to work together to bring an end to the current impasse so that the country can move forward and people’s quality of life can be improved.
He concluded his tour by delivering the sermon at Ballyclare Presbyterian Church on Sunday morning, and at the harvest service in Raloo that evening.
• See video interview with Dr Barry by clicking here.