Rev Ken Elliott: Huge turnout for funeral of cleric ‘blessed of God’

Rev Ken Elliott (right) with his successor Rev Darryl Abernethy
Rev Ken Elliott (right) with his successor Rev Darryl Abernethy

Over 1,000 people paid their respects yesterday at the funeral of Portadown Free Presbyterian minister Ken Elliott.

Fellow Free Presbyterian minister Rev David McIlveen had previously described him as second only to the Rev Ian Paisley as an evangelist.

It is understood Rev Elliott, 75, died after taking ill at home in Portadown on Saturday. He had served at Bethany Free Presbyterian Church in Portadown for 43 years.

He is survived by his wife Jean, to whom he had been married for 53 years, his children Allison, Shirley and John, as well as nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Clerk of Session Ronald Whiteside said he had not seen such a large funeral in his 35 years at the church, with friends also following it online from the US and Canada.

Rev Elliott’s successor, Rev Darryl Abernethy, said Rev Elliot had initially been a worker with Belfast City Mission before coming to work with Rev Paisley. He then trained in Omagh before coming to Portadown in 1973.

“The church began in Corcraine Orange hall and under his ministry the congregation began to grow and enjoyed the evident blessing of God,” he said.

The 1970s and 1980s were marked by his “great soul winning missions” around Portadown which brought many members into the church who still remain today, he said.

“His congregation had unanimously voted him minister emeritus as a mark of great respect after his retirement, but he was still pastoring a church in Lurgan which was without a minister.”

Rev Elliott also took a keen interest in football and loved to travel to Israel and to visit fellow preachers in Canada and the US.

“First and foremost he was a gentleman and always very dignified. He just lived for the ministry and for his family.”