Former Craigy Hill Presbyterian assistant ordained as new Dervock minister

Former assistant minister of Craigy Hill Presbyterian Church, Rev Campbell Mulvenny, has been ordained as the new minister of Dervock Presbyterian.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 5:32 pm

With special permission of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI), due to coronavirus restrictions, the ordination took place in a live-streamed service from Assembly Buildings in Belfast.

More than 500 people watched the online service, which included a pre-recorded a video message from Rev Ben Preston of Craigy Hill Presbyterian.

Ordination and installation services would usually take place in the church where the minister will serve and normally attended by members from their new congregation, friends, family members, and guests who have played a significant part in the minister’s life and faith journey.

Pictured in the Assembly Hall of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s headquarters in Belfast, after his ordination are Rev Campbell Mulvenny and his wife Rachel

On this occasion, however, that was not possible. Members of Route Presbytery, the Church’s regional body that has responsibility for overseeing the congregation and others in its area, as well as the ordination of ministers, held the service.

Only four members of the Presbytery Commission participated, each maintaining appropriate social distancing in the large Assembly Hall.

There were two guests present, Mr Mulvenny’s wife, Rachel, and the Clerk of Session from their new congregation, Mr John Surgenor.

Rev Mulvenny will be pastoring a flock of some 150 families in his new church. The new minister, his wife - who he married in 2016 - along with their two children, Abigail (two-and-a-half) and Timothy, who is just seven months old, have already settled into the Dervock manse.

Rev Campbell Mulvenny kneels as he is installed by members of the Route Presbytery Commission (left to right) Rev Alan Buick, Moderator of Route Presbytery, Rev Noel McClean, Clerk of Presbytery and Rev Rodney Moody

Originally from Analong, 34-year-old Rev Mulvenny became a Christian aged 12 during a two-week mission in Kilkeel, where he was brought up.

While this is his first congregation as a minister in his own right, as part of his ongoing training, however, he spent the last two years supporting the minister of Craigy Hill Presbyterian as his assistant.

Speaking after his ordination, Rev Mulvenny, said, “This has been a very different, but a wonderful evening. Anyone who has started out on this journey, and has felt God’s call to ordained ministry, this is the place they want to be. I am so looking forward to getting to know the folk in Dervock and pastoring God’s people there.”

While he started his professional life working in the hospitality industry as a chef (he has NVQ 2 and 3 in catering and hospitality) he put is culinary skills to good use in 2009 when he embarked on a two year overseas mission on the Operation Mobilisation (OM) ship, MV Logus Hope. During that time he also led and trained teams in evangelism, preached and worked with young people in various countries. The ship visited 30 nations in the Mediterranean, north and west Africa, Caribbean, Middle East and Arabian peninsula, India and Sri Lanka. During that time he also worked with young people in a prison in Barbados, people living with HIV and Aids in Liberia.

Returning to Northern Ireland he graduated with a BA in Theology from Belfast Bible College and began his training for the ordained ministry at PCI’s Union Theological College in Belfast, where he gained a Batchelor’s degree in Divinity and a Diploma in Ministry. “My plan had been to go to Bible College and then work in overseas mission, but God had something else to say about that.

“During my two placements at the College, in West Kirk Presbyterian on Belfast’s Shankill Road, and another in Mullingar Presbyterian, in County West Meat, I really felt God’s call for me to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ at home. And here I am,” Mr Mulvenny said.

The new minister added: “Like everyone, we are so looking forward to Easter when we can gather together as a church family to worship again in church, especially after such a long absence of being unable to do so.

“While I have preached before from the church to a camera for my livestreams, I am looking forward to worshiping and declaring that ‘He is Risen’ on Easter Sunday from the pulpit. I am also looking forward to preaching the Word of God week-by-week, and seeking to be a missional church to the people of the village and surrounding area,” he said.

“My journey began in Kilkeel and took me around the world and has brought me here. OM was the start, and I hope to spend many a year here seeing people come to faith, walking with them and alongside those who are mature in their faith. It is a hopeful and very exciting time.”

The hour-long service began with a welcome and call to worship by the Moderator of Route Presbytery, Rev Alan Buick, minister of Dunluce Presbyterian. During the service, which included four pre-recorded items of worship, Derek Brogan, a representative elder to the Presbytery, read from Second Timothy, chapter 4 verses 1 to 5.

Having consented to the Statement of the Standards of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, which were read out by Presbytery Clerk, Rev Noel McClean, minister of First Kilraughts, Mr Mulvenny answered the required questions regarding them, which were put by the Moderator. He then subscribed to the Church’s Subordinate Standards, the historic Westminster Confession of Faith. Having done so, members of the Presbytery Commission, including Rev Rodney Moody, minister of Garryduff and Dunloy, who looked after Dervock while it had no minister, prayed for Mr Mulvenny, ordaining and installing him as minster of Dervock Presbyterian Church. The sermon, based on the reading from Second Timothy was given by Mr Moody.

During the act of installation, the Moderator prayed, “May he be faithful in preaching your word, administering the sacraments and sharing in the government of the Church as he fulfils the ministry which you have called him to undertake. We pray through Christ who lived and died for us, who rose again, and who reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.”

Before Mr Mulvenny preached for the first time as Dervock’s minister, preaching from John chapter one, verses one to eighteen, those present - and those watching online - also heard short pre-recorded video messages. One was from Rev William Bingham, minister of Mourne Presbyterian, where Mr Mulvenny grew up, the other was from Rev Ben Preston of Craigy Hill Presbyterian where he had served as his assistant. A message of welcome from his new congregation was delivered in person to those watching online from Mr John Sergenor, Clerk of Session of Dervock Presbyterian, the second of only two guests at the ordination.

Also speaking after the ordination, the Moderator of Route Presbytery, Rev Alan Buick thanked the Church for enabling the ordination and installation to take place, “Sadly, the restrictions in place caused by Covid-19 prevented the ordination from taking place in Dervock. As a presbytery we are very thankful that the service could take place and that that those who would normally have attended could watch and take part via the livestream,” Mr Buick said.

“This has been a different, but special evening. While it was frustrating for all concerned that Campbell’s ordination and installation could not take place in his new congregation, due to the restrictions in place, we were delighted and relieved when the offer came from the PCI’s General Secretary, inviting us to use Assembly Buildings. Every minister remembers their ordination, for it is a very special time.

Mr Buick concluded by saying, “As Campbell commences his ministry for which he has trained for, and has been called to, we wish him, his wife Rachel, and their children, God’s richest blessing as this exciting new chapter opens for them in Dervock.”