members and friends of Larne Congregational Church have given a warm welcome to their new pastor and his family.
There was a large turnout for the induction service of Rev Chris McKinven, who said he was “delighted” to become part of the church family in Larne.
Originally from Newtownabbey, Rev McKinven - a past pupil of Belfast High School - was brought up attending Abbots Cross Congregational Church, becoming a Christian at the age of 15.
Together with his wife, Stacey - whom he met at the same church - he spent a good number of years involved in youth work in his home congregation. The couple were married in 2005.
Educated and working as a structural engineer, Rev McKinven felt led to become involved in more Christian outreach work and went to England where a friend needed help with a small church.
He trained as a pastor there and got involved in the church in East Dagenham in London, which to begin was made up of just four people.
“We stayed there for four-and-a-half years and we thought we would be there for a lot longer. They were great years - I went to Bible College part-time and the whole experience really changed our lives,” he said.
An invitation to speak at a service in Larne Congregational Church, however, was to bring another big change in the lives of the McKinvens.
During the time of the church’s five-year ministerial vacancy, Rev McKinven was asked as a visiting speaker to talk about the work in Dagenham.
“The congregation became aware of us and asked us to come over again. It all fell into place after that and we feel that this is what the Lord would have us do. We also have three young children, Noah, Gracey and Nathanial and we find it very useful to have the backup of grannies and the rest of the family here.
“It is a new chapter for us and for the church. Our mission is to tell people about Jesus and what He can do in their lives,” he said.
“We have been given a very warm welcome and are looking forward to getting to know people in the church and the wider community.”