Presbyterians vote for Moderator to chair Londonderry Assembly
Two ministers with strong north-west credentials are the only two names for consideration when Presbyterians around Ireland vote next Tuesday evening, 5 February, to decide who will be the next Presbyterian Moderator and chair the General Assembly when it meets this June in Londonderry.
Rev Rob Craig and Rev John Dickinson will be voted for in each of the nineteen presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church when they hold their individual meetings at different venues all around Ireland with the minister who tops the poll in the majority of presbyteries becoming the Moderator.
Dr Craig has been the minister of the Kilfennan congregation on Londonderry's Waterside since 1994 while Mr Dickinson, currently the minister of the Carnmoney congregation was born and brought up in the city, a son of the Ebrington manse.
Rev Rob Craig
Rev John Dickinson
The February vote is the culmination of a process that begins during the autumn when presbyteries confidentially submit names to the Clerk of the General Assembly of ministers that presbytery members think should be considered for the office of Moderator.
Having ascertained from the individuals concerned if they are prepared to allow their names to go forward, the Clerk's office then prepare a list of names which is sent to all presbyteries from which they vote to elect the Moderator.
The names of both men on this year's list have been involved in the Moderatorial election before and last year Mr Dickinson received four presbytery nominations and Dr Craig two.
It is fitting and probably not without coincidence that both men have Derry connections since whoever is elected will succeed the present Moderator Rt Rev Dr Roy Patton at the opening of the 2013 General Assembly on Monday 3 June at the Millennium Forum in Londonderry.
Two years ago the General Assembly took the decision to meet there to mark Londonderry's year as UK City of Culture. It is the first time in 22 years that the Assembly has met out of Belfast and it was 1933 when it last met in Derry.
No detailed plans have been announced yet for the Assembly other than the opening and business sessions will be held in the Millennium Forum from Monday 3 June until Thursday 6 June and the Assembly Communion Service will take place in First Derry Presbyterian Church on Tuesday 4 June.
Meanwhile the identity of the Moderator who will chair the Assembly is expected to be announced by 10.00pm on Tuesday 5 February.