Meet the team

Every member of the church family is part of the team

Although we have a white sign at the front of the church building that says 'Minister: Rev Mark Johnston', the reality is that every member of the church family of St Andrew's is a 'minister' - called to love and serve Jesus in our everyday lives, and called to love and serve one another, in Christ's name and for His glory.  

Every member of the church family has been blessed with a wide variety of gifts and talents, that the Lord intends for us to use for the purposes of advancing His Kingdom across Clandeboye, Bangor and the wider world.  Every member has a distinctive contribution to make to the life of the Church, just like our bodies are made up of so many different parts, each with a vitally important role to play in the healthy functioning of that body.

In St Andrew's, we engage in a shared ministry, where all our members are encouraged to use their gifts in the service of Jesus, both within the church and in the wider world.  Every member of the church family therefore, is part of the team!

Meet the minister of St Andrew's - Mark Johnston - and his family: Gillian, Daniel, Peter and Sophie

Mark, Gillian, Daniel and Peter just before they arrived in St Andrew's back in June 2016.

Hi there! I'm Mark Johnston and I've been the minister of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Bangor, since June 2016. Growing up in a Christian family outside Templepatrick, Co Antrim, and being nurtured and supported by the family of Muckamore Presbyterian Church, I gave my life to Jesus in my early teenage years. Each day I’m learning more about the joys and challenges of living as one of Jesus' disciples, and resting in His love, grace and mercy. During my twenties I pursued a career in business, gaining experience in the corporate world of BP, running my own company, and being involved in a number of Christian charitable organisations. As a result, I have a heart for encouraging and equipping people to live for Christ on their frontlines where God has called them, from the school gate or the office, to the family home or supermarket.

I met Gillian on a blind date in October 2007, and haven’t looked back since. We were married in July 2009. For a number of years Gillian taught young people in Slemish College, Ballymena. She was the head of the Geography Department there, until we moved to Bangor over the summer of 2016. Gillian grew up in a farming family just outside Glarryford, came to faith in her teenager years, and was actively involved in the life and witness of Killymurris Presbyterian Church. Gillian experienced a major trauma in her life just after our eldest son Daniel was born back in 2012. Her mummy, Irene, died suddenly at the age of 60, caused by a massive brain tumour that we had been unaware of. We’re thankful that Irene was a follower of Christ, and so we’ll see her again some day in Paradise; but from a human point of view, we continue to grieve and adjust to a very different world without her. In the midst of some quite considerable storms in the last couple of years, we praise God that He has sustained us, that He has taught us more about Himself, His love and peace-giving presence, and our need to trust and follow Him, as our Great Shepherd, in everything. Like Job, and with the Lord’s strength, we are able to proclaim,

“The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Job 1:21)

We are learning too that in the same way that God has comforted and sustained us through the storms, He is providing us with many opportunities to walk alongside people who are going through similar trials. We are able to weep with those who grieve, to listen, talk and pray with those who are experiencing difficult times, and to minister His love and grace to people in ways that perhaps weren’t possible, prior to Irene’s passing.

Daniel, Sophie and Peter, getting ready for a family walk in February 2020.

We have three precious children who keep us on our toes and who bring much joy (and some sleep-less nights) to our lives. Daniel is our eldest son and is full of life. He has a love for the outdoors, for farming, for digging for rocks and fossils, and depending on what day you ask him, he wants to be a spaceman on the international space station or a paleontologist. Peter is our youngest son and is a real live-wire. He is great pals with Daniel and they both get up to plenty of mischief together! Sophie is our little daughter and continues to bring much fun to our lives.  Her big brothers are very protective of her.  We are learning what it means to love and teach our children about the joy of following Jesus, and to raise our family in the knowledge of the Lord. We have an increasing awareness of the challenges that parents face in raising their children in today’s fastpaced, pressurised world. We have a heart to do all we can to minister to children, young people and young adults, whilst supporting and encourage parents and grandparents in the vital role they play in passing on their faith to the next generation.

Before coming to St Andrew's, we spent 3.5 years, serving as an Assistant Minister in Abbots Cross Presbyterian Church, which was a particularly special time.  We moved to Bangor at the end of June 2016 and began to serve as the Minister of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church on 17th June 2016.  It continues to be an incredible privilege to love, serve and journey with people under our care here in St Andrew's, to encourage people of all ages to look to Jesus above all else, and to see God work in their hearts and lives as they live for Him.

In everything, we keep coming back to two specific passages of Scripture that help to keep us focussed in all that we’re doing:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth:

“And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

As an individual, there's not a day that goes by where I'm not aware of my own sinfulness, weaknesses and insecurities.  I have a PHD in making mistakes - just ask Gillian if you don't believe me.  Every day I rely on the love, grace and strength that comes from following Jesus Christ.  I trust in Him above all else, to guide my every footstep, even though this can lead me in directions that are way outside of my comfort zone.  It's my continued pray that as the Lord uses me to proclaim the transforming message of Jesus Christ, His life, death and resurrection, that people from all walks of life, will come not to me, but to Jesus, and give their lives to Him.  The adventure continues! 

The Kirk Session

The church family of St Andrew's is organised in such a way so as 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 Ruling Elders and the Minister (Teaching Elder) of the church.  They are the group that carry the main responsibility for the life and work of the church family.  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 David Hooks and Alan Briggs.

The Elders of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church are:

  • Robert Beers
  • Alan Briggs (Joint Clerk of Session)
  • Daphne Campbell
  • Stephen Carroll
  • Les Dick
  • Andrew Frazer
  • David Hooks (Joint Clerk of Session)
  • Keith Hooks
  • Mark Johnston (Teaching Elder)
  • John Little
  • Mildred Wylie

The Congregational Committee

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 St Andrew's 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 St Andrew's the Committee is divided into three Sub-Committees, responsible for Property, Finance and Administration.

The 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 John McBride.

The Committee members for St Andrew's Presbyterian Church are:

  • Wynne Cargin
  • Jim Hill
  • William Lynn
  • John McBride (Secretary)
  • Jackie Meneely
  • David Michael
  • Leigh Nelson
  • John Stevenson
  • Sandie Thompson (Treasurer)
  • John Wylie

Please pray for the Elders and the Committee Members as they faithfully serve the Lord and His Church in these days.