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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 January 2008, 17:58 GMT
Church elects Paisley successor
Ian Paisley announced his intention to step down last September
Ian Paisley announced his intention to step down last September
The Free Presbyterian Church has met in Dungannon to elect a successor to Ian Paisley, its moderator for almost 57 years.

The new moderator is Rev Ron Johnstone, who had been deputy moderator.

It was announced last September that Mr Paisley would not be seeking re-election to the post.

At the time, the DUP leader said he had agreed to stand down as the church was facing a "very real crisis". He said he would continue his work as a clergyman.

Concerns had been expressed about Mr Paisley's dual role as first minister and moderator after the DUP and Sinn Fein agreed to share power last May.

When asked if it had been painful to relinquish his post as moderator, Mr Paisley replied: "Do I look like I'm in pain?"

Rev Ron Johnstone
Rev Ron Johnstone is the new moderator

A number of other church offices were also filled on Friday night.

Mr Paisley had been elected moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church every year, except one, since he founded the church in 1951.

Rev Johnstone said there had been no challenge to his election.

"It was a united meeting, decisions were unanimous," he said.

See a report on the election

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