For the first time in its 203-year history, Mullavilly Parish Church will tomorrow night institute a woman rector.
Rev Elizabeth Cairns, who was formerly a Church Army evangelist for five years in Donaghcloney Parish, moves from St Columba’s Portadown, where she has served as vicar, to the rural parish that is growing significantly with so many recent housing developments.
But she is used to the rural life of County Armagh.
“I’m a Birches girl born-and-bred, having been educated at the Birches Primary School, Killicomaine and Portadown Tech,” she said.
Her first job was in the offices of Hyster at Carn (now NACCO) where she worked for three years before joining the Church Army and training at Blackheath in England.
Before her St Columba’s days, she was stationed at Ballyclare/Ballynure in County Antrim, then at Seapatrick, Waringstown/Donagcloney and was then placed in charge at Ardmore.
Rev Cairns was ordained in 2009 as Vicar of St Columba’s and is “so looking forward to the challenge at Mullavilly”, where she succeeds Rev Brian Harper, who has moved to Ballinamallard in County Fermanagh.
Tomorrow night’s service, which stars at 7.30, will be conducted by Rev Neville Hughes, Rector of Mullabrack and Kilcluney. The institution will be by the Rt Rev Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.
Rev Cairns is married to Eddie and they have two sons and a daughter – Andrew (21), Christopher (20) and Rebecca (18).