Rev Richard Murray, the minister of Drumreagh Presbyterian Church, has been elected as the next Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI).
At 58 years old, this new role will see him become the denomination's 179th Moderator since 1840.
Born and bred in Belfast, Rev Murray's election as Moderator-Designate was announced on Tuesday evening following the Church's annual election for its principal public representative.
He received the most votes from the Church’s 19 presbyteries.
Out of the five who were in the running to become the next Presbyterian Moderator, four are based in Northern Ireland, including a female cleric from County Down, with one candidate based in the Republic of Ireland.
Expressing humility and gratitude for the opportunity, he said: “I feel humbled to be called to this office, yet also privileged, and with God’s help, I will endeavour to represent the Church and the Lord to the best of my ability.
“My desire is to be committed to the Word of God in everything and my request is that people remember me in prayer throughout my year in office.”
Rev Murray's journey of faith has been marked by a profound sense of calling. Despite initially straying from his Christian upbringing during his teenage years, a transformative encounter with God in 1986, through the preaching of Derick Bingham at the Crescent Church in Belfast, set him on a path of ministry and service.
‘’The ‘tipping point’, if I can call it that, was one day when I heard the text, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch”. I did launch out, and here I am!”
Since then, he has faithfully served various congregations, including Connor Presbyterian Church near Ballymena and Drumreagh and Dromore Presbyterian Churches in rural Co Antrim.
Beyond his pastoral duties, Reverend Murray is actively involved in missionary work and has taught abroad in Kenya. He and his wife, Lynn, share a love for long walks by the seaside and enjoy spending time with their son, Andrew, and his family.
Looking ahead to his forthcoming responsibilities, Reverend Murray emphasised the importance of service grounded in the love and grace of Christ. He expressed a desire to encourage ministers and leaders in their endeavours, recognising the challenges facing the Church in reaching those indifferent to the gospel message.
Murray will be formally elected as Moderator by the Church’s General Assembly in June.
Until then he will be known as the Moderator-Designate and continue to serve his congregation in Drumreagh.