ABOUT US: Meet the team

Rev. Ivan Neish, Minister


Ivan and his wife, Valerie


Hi!  My name is Ivan Neish, and I'm the minister of Abbots Cross Presbyterian Church, where I have been since 1994.  I am married to Valerie, who is a nurse, and we have five adult children.


I was raised in a military environment as my father was in the RAF for over thirty years, so I was born in England, started school in Germany and lived in Malta, to name just a few of my experiences.  We settled in Antrim when I was about fourteen.


I was taken to church down through the years, but by the time I went to University in Belfast I had decided that both God and church were irrelevant to me, and I lived far from God, until I was twenty four.  That was when God became real to me and changed my life completely.  I returned to church and found that it was totally different, but in reality it was my heart that was different, not the church.  I became increasingly involved in the life of First Antrim Presbyterian Church over the next five years.


During this time I was teaching but felt increasingly drawn to serving the Lord in the Church full time.  I was accepted for the ministry and studied for three years, after which I was the assistant in Rathcoole, and then the minister of Cloughey and Portavogie for nine years.


I enjoy most sports, particularly football and still play five-a-side once a week.  I support Manchester United, but please don't hold that against me!  I also have a great interest in aviation and take to the skies when possible.


Being a minister is a role that involves great variety including study, visitation, leadership and involvement in meetings of various kinds.  I count it a privilege to be part of the church at Abbots Cross, and I am greatly blessed to serve the Lord here among his people.


Stuart Hawthorne, Assistant Minister

Stuart, his wife Caroline, with their family - Caleb, Joel, Eli and Mollie


Hi!  My name is Stuart Hawthorne, Assistant Minister at Abbots Cross.  I am husband to Caroline and dad to Caleb (8), Joel (7), Eli (4) and Mollie (2). We are a lively family and energy is definitely needed if you are going to spend time with us!  Caroline previosuly worked as General Secretary of Presbyterian Woman but now runs her own business - Caroline Jayne Makeup Artistry.  When not in school or nursery school, the boys love to kick a football about the back garden and are already keen Liverpool and Carrick Rangers fans. However, I am hopeful that one day they will pick up a rugby ball.  Wee Mollie just loves a cuddle and a good giggle - when her three brothers are not smothering her with love that is. Needless to say, her mummy is enjoying dressing her in pink!


I come from Woodlands Presbyterian Church in Carricfergus. We hold many great memories from our time in Woodlands, especially times when we experienced God moving in incredible ways. In 2008 I took up a role as Youth Pastor in Woodlands, where I served for the next 5 and a half years. Prior to that I was a secondary school teacher - for a similar length of time - at Ulidia Integrated College in Carrickfergus. I loved both roles, learning much along the way, having been blessed to work with many amazing young people and others. After a period wrestling with and discerning God's call on my life, I began full-time study for ministry at Union Theological College in September 2013.


What else am I interested in? I am obsessed with all things rugby. With injury causing early retirement from the playing field I took up coaching for several reasons at Carrickfergus RFC. I go to watch Ulster whenever possible. I also love to watch MMA (mised martial arts) and recently took up Judo - alongside Caleb and Joel. So far I have achieved my red and yellow belts (in the adult class of course, not kids!) and after a break from the sport hope to one day return and progress further up the gradings. I enjoy getting to the gym when possible - it definitely keeps me sane! Other than all this, I am convinced that I am now well and truly addicted to coffee (but certainly not the instant variety).


As a family, we are really excited about being part of the family here at Abbots Cross. We have quickly dicovered that this is a special church family. We are looking forward to getting to know you all more over the next couple of years, journeying life with you and serving you as best we can.


I feel like I am more passionate than ever about the Good News that is the gospel of grace, and the mission of God's church excites me. At a point in history when many people growing up in Northern Ireland have little knowledge of Christ or His church, I am eager to see this emerging generation step into God's great story and into the life that He has for them. My desire is to witness people in Abbots Cross and in this community come to know Jesus and experience the fullness of life that He alone can give.


I believe this is an exciting time for Abbots Cross. We are excited to be joining the adventure.

Irene Dunlop, Office Secretary


My name is Irene Dunlop. I'm married to George and have two children, Karen and Gary, and a lovely granddaughter, Chloe. I have been the office secretary here at Abbots Cross for over 20 years. The office is open from 9am to 11am Monday to Friday, so feel free to pop in any time you're passing. 


Please also feel free to ring about any information you want to know about the Sunday services, meetings, organisations that are connected with the church, or any other information you might wish to convey to the minister.  The office telephone number is 028 9058 2120.  Alternatively, feel free to fill out a Contact Form on the website, or email info@acpc.co.uk  


Kirk Session


The church at Abbots Cross is organised in such a way to help ensure that things run smoothly, and that as many people as possible can get involved in leading and participating in various aspects of church family life.


The Kirk Session is made up of Elders and the Minister of the church.  They are the group that carry the main responsibility for the life and work of each Congregation.  An Elder is elected to the post by the Congregation and remains an Elder for life.  Some of the main responsibilities of the Kirk Session include:


  • The oversight and government of the congregation.
  • Encouraging and building up God’s people in spiritual maturity and holiness.
  • Ensuring the Word of God is taught in accordance with the Scriptures.
  • Overseeing the various teams and Committees that are formed from time to time to carry out God’s will for that Congregation.


The Leader of the Kirk Session is known as the ‘Clerk of Session’ and in our Church this role is currently performed by Gary O'Rourke.


The Elders of Abbots Cross Presbyterian Church are:


Gary Anderson

Maurice McClay

Tommy McWatters

Dr Gerald Nevin

Gary O’Rourke

Gavin Weatherall

Ronnie Wilson




The Committee is responsible for the safe and efficient operation of the Church as a legal entity.  It is composed of members of the church family at Abbots Cross who have been elected by the Congregation to serve on the Committee for a period of three years.  The members of the Kirk Session also sit on the Committee.


In Abbots Cross, the Committee is divided into three Sub-Committees, responsible for Property, Finance and Communications.


The Church Secretary of the Committee is responsible for keeping a record of the monthly Committee meetings, and for putting together any correspondence with external organisations and groups, on behalf of the Committee.  This role is currently performed by Lynn Strahan.


The Committee members for Abbots Cross Presbyterian Church are:


George Arthur

Professor David Bell

Mary Carse

Trevor Crawford

Tom Cunningham

Steven Gaston

Neil Glass

Dean Gordon

Joan McWilliams

Bertie Moore

Willie Nutt

Lynn Strahan

Tom Walker

Russell White

David Young (Treasurer)



Sunday services

Morning - 11am

Evening - 6.30pm


Abbots Cross Presbyterian Church

91 Doagh Road


Northern Ireland

BT37 9QN


Tel: 028 9085 2120

Email:  info@acpc.co.uk

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