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New Richhill minister pays special mention to his late predecessor

Thursday, 22 June 2017

New Richhill minister pays special mention to his late predecessor thumbnail Rev Gary McMurray (pictured centre) at his institution service at St Matthew's Parish Church, Richhill. With him is (from left) Johnathan Howe and Mary Caldwell, Parish Readers, David Attwell and Rev Trevor Johnston

A NEW Richhill minister has paid tribute to his predecessor, the late Rev David Somerville, whom he described as a "mentor and friend".

Rev Gary McMurray - who fills the vacancy left following the sudden death of the popular Richhill rector in February, last year - was instituted during a special service at St Matthew's Parish Church, on June 8.

Rev McMurray had in his final year at Theological College completed his placement with Rev Somerville, who at the time had been rector of Rathfriland and Ballyward Parishes.

Prior to his arrival in Richhill, he had for the past six years been rector of Aghavea Parish Church in Brookeborough.

Speaking at a reception after the institution service, Rev McMurray thanked Archbishop Richard Clarke, as well as brothers and sisters for the warm welcome he had received in Richhill.

"When the announcement of my appointment was made back in February, it seemed as if June was a long way away. But it came round very quickly, and here we are," Rev McMurray said.

"The first time I was in St Matthew's Church was the day of David Somerville's funeral.

"I know that the parishioners here loved him very much and miss him dearly, because I too experienced David as a rector, mentor and friend.

"In my final year at Theological College, I did a placement with David. Every Friday and Sunday, I was over in Rathfriland and Ballyward, helping David - and indeed my preaching scarf was a gift from David and the two parishes.

"Little did I imagine that just over a year after my first visit, I would be instituted as the next rector.

Yet we are certain that the Lord has called us here.

"Thank you to the nominators for the trust they have put in me. We are excited to be here; and we're looking forward to getting to know you all, and learning all your names.

"We 're also looking forward to seeing what God will do in us and through us here in Richhill, as we work together for the Lord.

"The Lord is calling us as a church family to continue the work that David was doing - to be a Gospel-centred church reaching out to our community and our world with the love of Christ." Rev McMurray went on to thank all the parishioners of Richhill for all they have done to prepare for the arrival of himself and his wife Lynsey.

"The Select Vestry, under the leadership of Canon Bill Adair, have been working very hard to make the rectory ready.

"Thank you to those who have travelled to be with us this evening - Trevor for his sermon; friends and colleagues from all arts and parts; friends from Dromore, Dundonald and Aghavea.

"We loved our time in Fermanagh, and so it wasn't easy to leave, but perhaps the thing that I won't miss is the weather.

"Archbishop, I don't know how you fixed it, but you managed to arrange some good Fermanagh weather this evening.

"When we moved into the rectory in Brookeborough, it rained every day for the first three months. So, I'm sorry if that pattern repeats itself here in Richhill - you might need to buy a good umbrella." Born in 1981, Rev McMurray spent his childhood years in Dromore, County Down, where from an early age, he was involved in the life of his home parish, Dromore Cathedral.

He made a decision to follow Christ when he was 11 years of age and has never looked back.

After studying Politics at Queen's University, Belfast, he worked with a victims support group, based in Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone.

During this time, he answered the call to ordained ministry and spent three years studying at the Church of Ireland Theological College.

In 2008, he was ordained as Curate of St Elizabeth's, Dundonald and just a few weeks later married Lynsey.

Lynsey, who currently works as a GP, is also from Dromore and studied Medicine in Dundee.

In his spare tiime, Rev McMurray enjoys reading and photography and can frequently be seen 'standing up for the Ulster Men' at Ravenhill.

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