Thanksgiving service for former Presbyterian moderator Rev Dr Howard Cromie

Rev Dr Howard Cromie was elected Presbyterian moderator in 1984
Rev Dr Howard Cromie was elected Presbyterian moderator in 1984

Tributes were paid at a service of thanksgiving in Lisburn on Monday for former Presbyterian moderator the Rev Dr Howard Cromie.

Railway Street Presbyterian Church was packed to capacity at the service for the 89-year-old senior cleric who died at a Saintfield nursing home after a lengthy illness.

Leading the tributes was present Moderator the Rev Dr Noble McNeely, who was joined by other senior Presbyterian clerics and former colleagues of Dr Cromie.

Dr Cromie, a Co Down man, was minister of Railway Street Church for 31 years from 1962 to 1993. He was licensed as a Presbyterian minister at Scarva Street Church, Banbridge in 1952 and was minister of Scots Presbyterian Church, Enniskillen for eight years before moving to Lisburn.

Theologically, Dr Cromie was a conservative evangelical who was a highly popular preacher and pastor within his own congregation, and at presbytery, synod and general assembly levels.

He was elected moderator for the one-year term in 1984, after being nominated with five other ministers. In the first presbytery election, he tied with nearest contender – Rev Richard Dickson – and, in a subsequent vote, was returned overwhelmingly by 16 votes to six.

In other influential church roles, Dr Cromie was convenor of the board of the Irish Mission for eight years, and he was also a member of the Church Extension Committee.

He was a prolific writer keenly interested in Irish Presbyterian and Ulster-Scots history and, in 1976, he authored a book ‘Ulster Settlers in America’, tracing 18th century Presbyterian migration.

In the book, he wrote: “It is sometimes claimed Presbyterianism in the American colonies sprang mainly from Scottish Presbyterianism. This is a generalisation which is certainly not accurate unless the term Scottish is specially defined.”

Dr Cromie is survived by his wife Kathleen, two sons Alan and David and two daughters Gillian and Fiona.