There was great delight at Shankill Parish, Lurgan when the news was announced that Reverend Canon Mark Harvey, Incumbent of the Parish of Ballybeen, had been appointed as Incumbent of the Parish of Shankill, Lurgan.
After the Reverend Geoff Wilson moved to take up his new role at the Cathedral Parish of Dromore in November 2016, the parish have been eagerly awaiting their new Rector.
No stranger to the area, Reverend Harvey is a former pupil of Lurgan College, attending from 1979 to 1983 and he is relishing the new challenges moving to Shankill Parish will bring.
“My late father was a Church of Ireland minister, he was Rector at Ardmore Parish in the late 70s early 80s and so I do know the area fairly well,” said Rev Harvey. “Also when I was ordained first in 1993 I was a curate for three years in Portadown.”
Having served in St Mary’s, Ballybeen in Dondonald for 12 years, Rev Harvey now faces new challenges as he moves to the ‘Big Church’ in Lurgan town centre.
“When you’ve been in a parish for that length of time you build strong relationships and your life becomes inter-twinned with lots of people’s lives through happy, sad and challenging occasions.
“For me this is a new challenge. The parish I’ve been in was in a very large working class housing estate in the city which brings its own particular challenges and now I’m moving to Shankill where you have a ministry to the whole town and community. I’m aware that Shankill is the town church and it facilitates a lot of community events which is great and part of the challenge that excites me.
“I think the parish has a very strong vision for the future and I look forward to help lead them into that. I know on a Sunday that Shankill has services in the parish church and services in the Jethro Centre so there is a real mix of styles of worship and that’s something I’m really looking forward to. It’s going to be a very different dynamic for me but that’s all good.”
Rev Harvey will make the move to Lurgan with his wife Joanne and daughter Lydia and they are hoping to be in situ for mid June.
“Joanne and I have been married for 23 years and Lydia is 13 years old. When we were married Joanne worked for four years in Ceara School in Lurgan so she isn’t a total stranger to the area which is good.
“We are hoping to be moved around the middle of June and that gives us time to settle in and to be ready to hit the ground running in September. We don’t have a date for my institution as it has yet to be finalised but that is expected to be in the second half of June. I’m looking forward to meeting my new parishioners and the challenges that lie ahead.”