Presbyterian minister will be ‘much missed’ by Whitehead community
A Presbyterian Church minister has been thanked for the contribution he has made to the wider Whitehead community.
The Rev. Ian Carton recently accepted a painting on behalf of his wife, June, and himself, in recognition of their contribution to the seaside town.
Earlier this year, Rev Carton said he was to step down from his role as minister of Whitehead Presbyterian Church over the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s policy to deny full membership to anyone in a same-sex relationship.
The painting of the Whitehead seafront by local artist Ken Stewart, was presented to Rev Carton by Martin Clarke, acting chairman of Whitehead Community Association, supported by representatives of the Association, the Blackhead Path Preservation Group and other community groups.
A spokesperson for Whitehead Community Association said: “Ian and June will shortly be moving on to pastures new and they will be very much missed by our little community.
“Both Ian and June were great supporters of most community initiatives, however, their legacy will be the setting up Whitehead’s Storehouse project which provides emergency needs of food and other necessities to vulnerable individuals and families in the Whitehead, Islandmagee and Ballycarry area.
“Ian has been the main driver of cross-religious events in Whitehead, a stalwart in terms of his support for our Victorian Street Fair and an all-round wonderful Christian and human being.”
Addressing the congregation of Whitehead Presbyterian Church on May 30, Rev Carton said he and his wife, June, had been “far from comfortable” with the direction of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland for some time.
“It seems to be, in our view, excluding people that we would like to welcome,” he said.
The decision to step down has been a “difficult” one, he added, as someone who had been born into and grown up with the church.
He added: These years that we have spent here in Whitehead really have been some of the best years of our lives.”
He said that while he would remain in the role until the end of September, the couple had no idea what their next steps were going to be.
Many in the local community took to social media to express their support for the local minister’s decision, with one commenting: “What loss to the church and a loss to Whitehead.”
At the time, a spokesperson for the Presbyterian Church in Ireland said it was aware that Rev Carton had indicated he would be seeking the leave of his Presbytery to be released from his charge as minister of Whitehead Presbyterian.
The spokesperson continued: “When that point comes, we would want to wish Ian well for the future and thank him for the service that he has given, particularly to our congregation in Whitehead, over these past years.”
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