Ordination and installations would usually take place in the church where the minister will serve. Given the restrictions in place, with special permission of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) centrally, the special event took place in PCI’s Assembly Hall in the all-Ireland denomination’s Belfast city centre HQ.
Mr Johnston’s ordination was livestreamed and watched online by over 400 people.
Second Donegore’s roots go back to 1788, with the current church building dating from 1908.
Rev Ben Johnston, who hails from Co Londonderry, will be pastoring a flock of some 160 families. While Second Donegore is his first congregation as a minister in his own right, as part of his ongoing training, however, he spent the last three years supporting the minister of Hamilton Road Presbyterian in Bangor as an assistant.
After his ordination, Mr Johnston, said: “The ordination of any minister is a very special moment and tonight that has been the case for me, even in these unusual circumstances.
“Having understood that God was calling me to ordained ministry a number of years ago, it is quite something to now be where I am today, and I give thanks to God for his faithfulness, his continued mercy to me in Christ, and his direction in my life.
“I am also so excited to be able to get going and delighted to be Dunamuggy’s new minister.
“The call to a congregation, and to serve God’s people as their pastor, is a very special call.”