Conference speaker has strong local roots

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Christian Endeavourers from East Antrim are looking forward to joining others from across Ireland for the 101st Irish National Christian Endeavour convention on September 19, at Carrickfergus Methodist Church.

Juniors will be treated to a special fun day in First Carrickfergus Presbyterian Church Hall while the young people’s/young adults’ section will be based in St. Nicholas’ Parish Hall.

The theme will be, “One More Step”. The speaker will be Rev. Mark Russell who, along with his wife and daughters, lived in the town prior to entering the ministry.

His parents, Rev. Derek and Mavis Russell continue to reside there and are very well-known throughout the area, especially in Carrickfergus and Ballyclare.

Mark was born in Belfast in 1966. His father was soon to be ordained as a minister of the Methodist Church in Ireland and numerous house moves would soon follow both into the Republic of Ireland as well as in Northern Ireland.

Educated at Methodist College Belfast, Mark was employed with the Northern Ireland Civil Service working in a number of different organisations but most of his time was spent within the Rate Collection Agency fulfilling a number of different roles.

Love drew him from the Methodist Church when he met Libby, his wife-to-be at the Elim Pentecostal Church, where they worshipped for 15 years. in north Belfast every week.

Sensing God was calling them to a more local congregation, they moved to First Carrickfergus Presbyterian Church as their daughters Gemma and Amy had enrolled in the Girls’ Brigade and the Junior Christian Endeavour.

It was through Christian Endeavour that Mark and Libby say that they knew “God’s affirmation that they were in the right place through the prayerful working of June Ross and Anne Baskin”.

Mark said that he had felt a call to ministry when he was 18-years-old, but knowing what that would involve, “kept his head down” so to speak.

But following a period of intensive conviction, Mark applied for the candidacy for the ordained ministry in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

He was accepted and went up to Union Theological College in September 2005 and was ordained and inducted as the associate minister in Carnmoney Church in 2009, having also served his assistantship there.

Subsequently, he was called to Leckpatrick Presbyterian Church in the Presbytery of Derry and Donegal in September 2010 where he has remained as their minister.

He tries to take time out, with some success and when he does enjoys cooking, baking, and walking with the occasional journey to Belfast to the Kingspan stadium to watch the Ulster team.