A former Whiteabbey Presbyterian Church minister will again have an important role at next month’s General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
It will be Rev Trevor Gribben’s fifth Assembly as Clerk. Reflecting on the first time he attended as an assistant minister in 1987, he says one thing that has always struck him about the annual meeting is it is the Presbyterian family coming together.
“For me the General Assembly has always been a wonderful picture of our Church coming together: ministers, who have been called by their congregations, elders who have been elected by their brothers and sisters in Christ, joining with other representatives, all coming together as a Presbyterian family to worship and pray,” he said.
One of the largest churches in Ireland and the largest Protestant, or Reformed, denomination in Northern Ireland, along with its primary focus on mission and ministry, the General Assembly is a time where the pressing social, moral, denominational and public issues of the day are also discussed.
Mr Gribben, who was minister in Whiteabbey 1996-2008, said while many of the issues are important, some can be mundane, but necessary, and sometimes they can be controversial.
“Sadly it’s often only the last of these that ‘make the headlines’, but on the ground and in different ways, our Church continues to make a unique contribution in communities across the country. Our annual meeting next month is the coming together of ministers and elders from every congregation across this island, meeting in General Assembly, to take decisions for the Church and often giving voice to the concerns of many people within and outside PCI,” he explained.
“This year, much of the work reported on has stemmed from decisions taken at the last, or previous, Assemblies. For instance, Task Groups have been looking at a number of areas, including dissent and guidance for congregations around membership. Valuable work that we will be able to discuss next month.”
Mr Gribben continued, “With the vast majority of our business conducted in an open, transparent and public way, democracy is also one of the strengths and hallmarks of our Presbyterianism. As we discuss and debate together with grace and respect, I would also encourage everyone who is eligible to attend and take part.”
The General Assembly will take place in Belfast from Monday, June 3 to Friday, June 7. All are welcome. For full details www.presbyterianireland.org