Presbyterians may return - 80 years on

Presbyterians from across Ireland will next week vote on whether to bring their General Assembly to Derry for the first time in almost 80 years, writes David Wilson.

Delegates at this year’s General Assembly - which gets underway next week in the church’s administrative capital of Belfast - will vote on Tuesday morning on a proposal to hold the 2013 General Assembly in Derry.

Reverend Rob Craig of Kilfennan Presbyterian Church says bringing the Assembly - and more than 1000 delegates - to the city in 2013 would be an appropriate move by the Church considering Derry’s city of culture status.

“It would be very encouraging for Presbyterians in the city, a great vote of confidence.” he says.

“The city of culture year represents an opportunity to bring the Assembly here, a move that would also recognise the role Presbyterians have played, and continue to play, in the life of this city.”

Should the proposal garner enough support, it will be the first time since 1933 that Derry has hosted the church’s Assembly.

It would also mark the first time since 1991, when it was held in Dublin, that the Church has held its Assembly outside of Belfast.

The General Assembly is held during the first week of June each year and is regarded as the church’s governing body.

560 congregations

The minister and at least one elder from each of Ireland’s 560 congregations attend the annual meeting.

More than 1200 delegates will attend next week’s General Assembly in Belfast, where the church will install its new moderator Reverend Ivan Patterson.

A vote for Derry would be another boost for 2013.