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
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
peopleFilm star says he is 'not interested in making money anymore'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
Sport
footballAccording to revelations from Sergio Aguero's new biography
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Life and Style
Meow! ... Again, Kim Kardashian goes for a sexy Halloween costume, wrapping her body with a latex catsuit and high heeled knee boots
fashionFrom Heidi Klum to Kim Kardashian
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Extras
indybest
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksChristmas comes early for wizard fans
Arts and Entertainment
filmsOculus Rift offers breathtakingly realistic simulation of zero gravity
Life and Style
tech

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

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker