Last November William Craig led the opposition in the Irish Presbyterian Church to the church’s continued membership in the World Council of Churches (WCC). Long-standing objections to WCC membership had been further aggravated by grants to the Patriotic Front guerillas in Rhodesia and by the murder there of Ulster missionaries. The Portadown minister’s motion to suspend membership in the WCC carried by a large majority at a specially convened assembly. That decision will be reviewed at the annual meeting of the General Assembly in June, but by then Craig will be appearing in a different role: last month he was elected moderator for the coming year.

Many were surprised by Craig’s election, especially the moderator-elect himself. “It was quite a shock to me,” he said. For many evangelicals, however, both inside and outside the ranks of Irish Presbyterianism, the shock was a pleasant one. Craig, who has been thirty years in his present pastorate, is well known for his parish ministry, but also for an evangelistic concern that has involved him in a wider outreach.

Stirring up evangelism in the churches will clearly be a primary aim during his year of office. But Craig will also face the more thorny issue of inter-church talks. On this matter he has made his position clear: “My principle is that I will not be taking part in anything that would obscure or militate against the gospel of grace.”

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