Northern Ireland

New Presbyterian moderator backs Church's gay marriage opposition

Reverend William Henry Image copyright Presbyterian Church of Ireland
Image caption The Reverend William Henry said he was "deeply honoured" to be chosen

The next moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) said he supports the Church's opposition to gay marriage.

But, he added the Church "abhors" homophobia and is "open and welcome to anyone".

The PCI has chosen the Reverend William Henry to become its next moderator.

Mr Henry, the minister of Maze Presbyterian Church in County Antrim for the past two decades, was selected following a vote on Tuesday.

The father-of-three will be officially installed at the start of the Church's general assembly on 3 June.

At 50 years of age, he is the youngest moderator in living memory.

He will replace the Reverend Charles McMullen as moderator.

Votes cast

A total of 19 presbyteries across the island of Ireland met independently on Tuesday to cast votes for the next moderator.

Mr Henry received 11 votes, more than three other nominees - the Reverend David Bruce, secretary to PCI's Council for Mission in Ireland; the Reverend Albin Rankin, of Stormont Presbyterian and the Reverend Mairisíne Stanfield of First Presbyterian Church, Bangor.

Mr Henry was born in Belfast and grew up in Mallusk, County Antrim.

He opted to enter training as a minister at the age of 22 after graduating from Queen's University, Belfast with a degree in chemistry.

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