The Rev Jim MacCormack

Methodist minister and missionary

Jim MacCormack ministered in Northern Ireland during the worst years of the Troubles.

James Tresham MacCormack, minister of the church and missionary: born Dublin 11 March 1926; ordained a minister of the Methodist Church 1954; married 1952 Joan Shier (one son, two daughters); died Belfast 6 December 2004.

Jim MacCormack ministered in Northern Ireland during the worst years of the Troubles.

He angered loyalists when in the early 1970s he stopped the UDA from firing a volley of shots over the grave of a comrade at whose funeral he was officiating. This was in accordance with the wishes of the dead man's parents. He was subsequently warned not to attend his church alone, threats were made against his family and police patrols near his home were stepped up.

Thereafter, his strong pastoral role in opposition to sectarianism led to his being taunted as "Father MacCormack" by loyalist elements. Warned off various housing estates, he nevertheless continued to visit them, travelling incognito by bicycle, as his car registration number was widely known.

He was born James Tresham MacCormack, in 1926, the son of Charles E. MacCormack and his wife, Harriet (née Fox), of Dublin. Following the death of his mother, he and his brother Charles were sent as boarders to Wesley College in the city. There he excelled academically and was made head boy. A member of the senior rugby team for three years, he captained the side in 1943.

On winning a maths Sizarship to Trinity College Dublin, he studied Mental and Moral Science for his BA and also took a Bachelor of Divinity degree. Having undergone an evangelical conversion in his teens, he became a local preacher at the age of 20 and candidated for the Methodist ministry from the Rathgar Methodist Church in 1947. He then served for two years at Dolphin's Barn in the Dublin Central Mission circuit, and in 1949 entered Edgehill College, Belfast, where he studied for three years.

In 1952 he was appointed by the Methodist Missionary Society to work in Zambia (then known as Northern Rhodesia) and he served at Masuku for 11 years; he was ordained there in 1954. In 1952 also he married Joan Shier, a nurse, and the three children of their marriage were all born in Zambia.

He was an expert bible translator and while in Zambia worked on a revision of the Tongan Bible, and he continued translation work when he returned to circuit work in Ireland. His Tongan nickname meant "The Man Who Never Sits", to distinguish him from a predecessor known as "The Man Who Sits in the Office and Complains".

Returning to Ireland in 1963, he was stationed in Churchill, Co Fermanagh. "He was somewhat out of the ordinary as Protestant clergy went in those days," his half-brother, Hugh Maxton, recalled. "One legend has it that, on arrival in County Fermanagh, he received through the post - automatically as it were - notification of his Orange Order membership, promptly declined."

In 1966 he resumed his ministry in Zambia, first in Nambala and then in Kafue. At the Nambala Mission he worked among the BaTonga people. He was known for his energy, enthusiasm and compassionate nature. In later years he often spoke of his desire to return to Zambia, such was his commitment to the welfare of the deprived and underprivileged.

On return to Ireland in 1971 he was appointed to the Seymour Hill Church in the Finaghy circuit, where he served for six years. Seven years followed at Whitehead in the Carrickfergus circuit, until in 1984 he was appointed as Senior Tutor at Edgehill College. In 1991 he went to Glastry as superintendent of the Glastry and Portaferry circuit in the Ards Peninsula, and after three years there he retired and linked up with the Finaghy circuit, where he readily helped as needed with preaching and pastoral and chaplaincy work until his final illness.

He served as junior and then senior secretary of the Board of Examiners, and for many years was Irish secretary of the Fellowship of the Kingdom. In his marking of papers he was reputed to be more concerned with assisting than assessing.

Returning to academic scholarship, he studied for a MTh awarded by Queen's University Belfast in 1991. His thesis was published in 2002 as Thoughts from a Warmed Heart: a commentary on John Wesley's notes on the New Testament. He completed his final article, "Meditations on the Letter to the Ephesians", shortly before his death.

P. J. Gillan



Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Ashdown Group: Automated Tester / Test Analyst - .Net / SQL - Cheshire

£32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot