New minister hopes to be ‘a light on the hill’

Attending the Ordination and Installation of Mr Benjamin Samuel Preston (3rd left) as Minister of Craigyhill Presbyterian Church are (L to R) Rev Gary Glasgow, Moderator, Rev Emerson McDowell, Clerk, Rev Dr Colin McClure, Dr Philip Shepherd and Mr Norman Carmichael. INLT 36-022-PSB
Attending the Ordination and Installation of Mr Benjamin Samuel Preston (3rd left) as Minister of Craigyhill Presbyterian Church are (L to R) Rev Gary Glasgow, Moderator, Rev Emerson McDowell, Clerk, Rev Dr Colin McClure, Dr Philip Shepherd and Mr Norman Carmichael. INLT 36-022-PSB

The new minister at Craig Hill Presbyterian Church said he has been “overwhelmed” by the generosity and friendliness of local people.

Rev Ben Preston was officially welcomed into his new position at an installation service on Sunday, September 6, which was attended by representatives from representatives from Carrickfergus Presbytery.

The 32-year-old Belfast-born man takes over the reins from Rev John Gilkinson, who departed as minister last year.

Craigy Hill Presbyterian is Rev Preston’s first charge, having previously served as assistant minister at Richhill Presbyterian in Armagh for the past three years.

A Christian from a young age, Rev Preston is the son of a missionary and as a result he spent much of his youth travelling throughout the Republic.

Having moved back to Belfast at the age of 18, he undertook a degree in computer science at Queen’s University.

After graduating, he was elected as president of the Students’ Union, where he spent two years before moving on to work in the banking industry for a short time.

Following a spell working for a youth organisation, Rev Preston felt called by God to enter the ministry.

He told the Times: “After I finished my degree, I wanted to spend some time out in the world, trying my hand at a range of different things.

“But in the back of my mind I always felt the call to ministry, so in 2009 I undertook a Master of Divinity at the Theological College in Belfast.”

Speaking of his decision to take up the appointment at Craigy Hill Presbyterian Church, Rev Preston said: “I felt I was a match for what Craigy Hill was looking for in a minister, and I felt God calling me here.

“My wife Jennifer and I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and friendliness of those we have met in the town so far, and we look forward to getting to know a lot more people in the years ahead.

“My primary focus as minister at Craigy Hill Presbyterian Church will be a commitment to proclaim God’s word through preaching.

“It is my hope and prayer that the church will be a light on the hill for the local community.”