Moderator Presbyterian Church in Ireland
July 30, 2009
Dr. Carson was nominated by 10 out of the 21 Presbyteries who met throughout Ireland to vote for a new Moderator and took office on 1st June in succession to Dr. Donald Patton.
Rev. Derek McKelvey of Fisherwick, in Belfast, received 6 nominations and Rev Norman Hamilton, minister of the Ballysillan congregation, also in Belfast, received 5 nominations.
Commenting on his election Dr. Carson who has been minister of First Portadown for the last four years said, "I am very surprised but greatly honoured by the way in which the Church has chosen me for this important task."
He describes himself as "theologically conservative" and sees one of the major challenges of ministry today as introducing change within the Church to help it connect with people in relevant and meaningful ways.
"Outreach and mission has to be one of our main priorities. In First Portadown we are trying to develop that aspect through various initiatives. We are involving ourselves more in the daily life of the local community so that the practical side of our Christian faith is clearly seen while on Sundays the introduction of a contemporary style makes our worship more meaningful to people new to the congregation."
Born in Larne on 29 May 1951, John Stafford Carson attended Moyle Primary School and Larne Grammar School. In 1973 he graduated with a BSc from University of Ulster in Coleraine and three years later was awarded an MA from the same university.
Brought up in the Elim Church, Dr. Carson was also strongly influenced through the ministry of Christian Endeavour and Youth for Christ and after his marriage joined his wife's congregation of First Portglenone Presbyterian.
While studying for his MA, Dr. Carson taught Biology in Ballymena Technical College before his theological studies took him to the USA and Westminster Theological Seminary where he graduated with a Masters in Arts and Ministry in 1980 before completing his ministerial training at Union Theological College in Belfast.
In 1983 he was ordained as assistant minister in the High Street Antrim congregation before being installed in the joint charge of Kells and Eskylane a year later. In 1991 Dr. Carson was called to be minister of Carnmoney where he stayed until taking up the post of Academic Dean at Westminster Theological Seminary in 2000. In 2005 he returned to Northern Ireland and became minister of the First Portadown congregation.
He has convened various committees of the General Assembly, particularly those related to theological education of ministers and the provision of resources to help local churches be more effective in their mission outreach.
An Ulster Rugby season ticket holder Mr Carson is married to Patricia and has two daughters and a son.