The Rev Trevor Gribben is proof that you may take the man out of Tandragee, but you can’t take Tandragee out of the man – even after he has been elevated to the top administrative post within the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI).
Mr Gribben (53) was confirmed as the Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (to give it the full title), the de facto chief executive, on Tuesday night. It was the same night that Newry minister Dr Michael Barry was installed as Moderator.
His Christian grounding was in Tandragee, where his greatest influences were Rev Douglas Hamilton, minister during Trevor’s formative years, and BB Captain Brian Crozier, “one of the most caring, decent men I’ve ever met.”
Trevor was one of Brian’s Lieutenants in 1st Tandragee, and went on to serve as the training officer in the Portadown Battalion, of which Tandragee is part, and to rub shoulders with local BB legends like Kenneth Twyble and Jim McKittrick.
He started his education at Tandragee Primary and Junior High – and then moved to Queen’s University via Portadown College, emerging with a BSc in applied maths and computer science “not subjects you’d connect with the Presbyterian minister”.
He entered industry for a year with the now-defunct Mayfair Manufacturing Company at Garvaghy Road as computer programmer, but then felt “the call” and entered the Union Theological College, connected with Queen’s and where PCI ministers are trained.
His first appointment was as assistant minister at Duncairn in Belfast, under Rev Patton Taylor (four years), followed by seven years as minister of Leckpatrick Presbyterian Church in Strabane.
His biggest congregation was Whiteabbey (550 families) for 12 years and then he entered church administration as assistant clerk, and finally as Clerk of the General Assembly.
He has been education secretary for the PCI, has worked with the Union Commission and been on the PCI board of Christian Training – “all valuable experience”.
Rev Gribben has a well-known brother living in Portadown, rugby boffin Andy Gribben, sister-in-law Helen and sister Gwyneth, ex-banker living in Belfast.
He points out that the PCI is an island-wide church and that two new congregations have been “planted”, to use the church expression, in the Republic and one in North Belfast.
“There are opportunities which the church must grab and develop,” he said.