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Ron Johnstone
Rev ron johnstone.png
Born 1949
East Belfast
Religious beliefs Free Presbyterian
Nationality Northern Irish
Education Whitefield College of the Bible
Church(es) Newtownards Free Presbyterian Church (2008-present), Armagh Free Presbyterian Church (1996-2008)
Years active c.1970, 2008, in Newtownards
Titles Rev. Ron Johnstone, Minister of Newtownards Free Presbyterian Church, Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster
Offices held Deputy Moderator, Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster
Spouse Raema Johnstone

Ron Johnstone (born 1949) is the Minister of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster in Newtownards and the Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster. He was elected to his post on 18 January 2008, succeeding Rev. Ian Paisley, who had held the post for more than 50 years. Johnstone accepted the call to be the minister of Newtownards Free Presbyterian Church, and was installed on Thursday 29 May 2008.[1]


Personal life and ministry

Johnstone comes from a religious background. Johnstone's father, Cecil Johnstone was a Baptist Minister and his sister has been a missionary in Colombia for over 40 years. In the 1970s, Johnstone and his wife, Raema were missionaries with New Tribes Mission in Papua New Guinea for four and a half years, which give Johnstone the basis for his ministry. When he returned to Northern Ireland, Johnstone studied Hebrew, Greek and Theology at the Whitefield College of the Bible, which is run by the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster. Johnstone began ministry in a parish at Carrickfergus, then moving on to Clogher Valley and Moneyslane Churches. Johnstone became minister of Armagh Free Presbyterian Church in 1996.

Ron Johnstone is married to Raema, with whom he was a missionary in the 1970s.

Johnstone claims no political ties, and was quoted as saying "I am not a member nor involved in the DUP [ Democratic Unionist Party ]; my work is in the church and in the spiritual aspect of life, in relation to my congregation in Armagh and wider society."[2]. In another interview, following protests at his church (see Controversies), he stated "It cannot be political as I'm a non-political person. I am not a member of any political party and my sojourn within the church is purely to evangelise."

Johnstone accepted a call to be the minister of the Free Presbyterian Church in Newtownards, leaving Armagh after 12 years in the post. He was ordained on Thursday 28 May 2008.

Moderator election

In September 2007, the Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church met for the annual elections for a moderator, in which Ian Paisley had won every year since the church's founding, bar one. After a stormy meeting, Paisley decided to step down in January 2008. Paisley said that the church was 'facing a real crisis', due to his role as First Minister in a power-sharing executive with the republican Sinn Fein party, which prompted his decision to step down. On 18 January 2008, at Dungannon Free Presbyterian Church, Johnstone was unanimously elected as the new moderator, thus ending Paisley's reign. The former moderator was in good spirits, as he introduced his successor to the press. As Johnstone left the press hastily, he said, when questioned by a reporter, "It was a united meeting, decisions were unanimous". Johnstone paid tribute to Paisley and reiterated the church's stance against Ecumenism, the Roman Catholic Church and the Charismatic Movement.


Ron Johnstone's moderatorship began on a negative, when his church was targeted by "cranks"[3], only a few hours after election. Slogans were screwed to the wall and included 'Ron Johnstone the Protestant Pope' and others quoting Scripture. The attack seemed to have been carried out by adults, as they were large wooden signs, which were screwed high up the wall.[3]


  1. ^ Grace Church Tidings: REV RON JOHNSON HEADING OUR WAY
  2. ^ Church moderator 'humbled' by role
  3. ^ a b Moderator victim of 'cranks' hours after election win, The Belfast Telegraph. 25 January 2008 [1]

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