The funeral took place today of the former Presbyterian Church Moderator, Very Rev Dr David McGaughey in Mourne Presbyterian Church, Kilkeel.

Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, the current Moderator, Rt Rev Dr David Bruce was unable to attend his predecessor's Funeral but a statement was read at the service on his behalf.

Rev Dr Bruce said “I sincerely regret that due to the current restrictions, I am unable to attend this service in person. I learned of the death of Dr David McGaughey on Tuesday with real personal sadness. He was much loved by the people he served as minister in Castledawson and Curran, and latterly for 30 years, in Mourne. His giftedness as a pastor and preacher were widely known and respected across the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and far beyond. I wish to convey the sympathy of the General Assembly to his widow, Anne, and their children Lynn, David, Hilary, and Jane, and to the wider family circle. David’s colleagues, including the former Moderators of the General Assembly, join me in offering their condolences and the assurance of our prayers. “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Ver Rev. Dr. David Joseph McGaughey
Ver Rev. Dr. David Joseph McGaughey

Tribute from Rev Nigel Reid, minister of Tullyallen & Mountnorris Presbyterian Church.

In a heart-felt tribute Rev Reid from Tullyallen and Mountnorris spoke of his life and fondly remembered his midweek prayers at the church.

 Can I begin by thanking the McGaughey Family and Mr Bingham for inviting me to pay a short tribute to one the most sincere, godly man I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

I would like to extend the sympathy of the Congregations of Tullyallen & Mountnorris to you Mrs McGaughey, to Lynn, David, Hilary and Jane, Maureen, Nancy. Dr & Mrs McGaughey came to our Church family in 2003 and I can assure you that from that time you are deeply loved and cherished by our congregations. 

Mrs McGaughey, I also offer the Sympathy of Donna, Calvin, Sarah and myself to you today. When we came to our first charge in 2007 and took up residence in the Manse you and Dr McGaughey have been a source of vital support, encouragement and help in good times and bad. Donna and I have benefited greatly from the extremely confidential and honest words that you and Dr McGaughey have imparted to us over the years. 

Can I say that my feeble words will never adequately pay a fitting tribute to such a faithful servant of our great God. No amount of time could create the possibly of speaking suitably to the Character and life that Dr McGaughey lived. 

As I reflected on what I might share with you by of tribute to the Very Reverend Dr David McGaughey, I was reminded of the words of 1st Peter chapter 3 and part of verse 15 “Be Ready to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” 

I believe there are at least four reasons for the hope that was found in his life.

Firstly Dr David McGaughey found hope in the life that he lived. 

David Joseph Mc Gaughey was born on the 26th September 1938 one of four children born into the family of David and Elizabeth McGaughey. Early life was spent at 41 Londsale Street in Armagh. 

Attending The Mall Presbyterian congregation with his family and his early education was at the Armstrong Primary school and Royal School Armagh. 

From listening to Dr McGaughey over the years it is fair to say that he had a very happy childhood. In Tullyallen and Mountnorris we loved to hear Dr McGaughey’s children’s addresses when he would often use illustrations from his childhood to bring a message from God’s word. He would warmly speak of childhood life in Armagh and Summer holidays with family at Tullyallen. 

But when speaking of his childhood Dr McGaughey reserved his greatest joy and warmth for when he spoke with tears of his mother’s conversion at a mission in Armagh, and how the Lord used his mum’s conversion to bring his sisters, Nelly, Nancy, Maureen and his father, to saving and personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

But in that happy childhood, Dr McGaughey was to experience as a young boy overwhelming grief when on the 22 February 1947, His sister Nelly was to pass away. Nelly had a strong and vibrant faith in the Lord. 

From the witness of other members of the family Dr McGaughey new he needed to know the Saviour personally and as a young boy of 10, with his Mothers help, he accepted Christ as his own and personal Saviour. The joy of Dr McGaughey’s conversion never left him. 

In every aspect of life Dr McGaughey, he lived for His Saviour. In his dealings with others, in his conduct and in ministry, he lived from Christ. 

Dr McGaughey felt led to Sandhurst Military Academy to become an officer in the Army. But the Lord had other plans. Though the advice of his minister, Rev. JCM Anderson, Dr McGaughey prayerfully sought to the Lord’s will for his life in the ordained ministry of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. 

On route to ministry Dr McGaughey responded to his country’s call in a time of great need, enlisteding in the Ulster Special Constabulary. Through a near death experience the Lord confirmed His call to Dr McGaughey to become a student for the ordained ministry of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Dr McGaughey went to Magee College in Londonderry. It was as a second year of study that Dr McGaughey was to receive a great gift from the Lord. 

That gift was to be his wife Anne. They were married in Rasharkin Presbyterian Church on the 4 August 1965. I can tell you that a marriage that lasted more than 50 years has been an amazing example to us all. They were so at one with each other. The depth of love that Dr and Mrs McGaughey had for each other is a testimony that many of us will never forget. 

Dr McGaughey as assigned to the congregation of Railway Street in Lisburn under the Rev Howard Cromie. Dr McGaughey himself states that it was under Mr Cromie that he saw a man who never entered the pulpit without being prepared, whose evangelical zeal came out in his preaching and that was something Dr McGaughey took to heart, for I have never known a man so prepared to preach the word of God than Dr McGaughey. The passion that he had for those who did not know the Saviour was something to behold. 

In 1968 Dr McGaughey was called to the Congregations of Castledawson and Curran. The Lord was to bless David and Anne with 4 Children Lynn, David, Hilary and Jane, Richard, Gavin and Glenn, and 10 grandchildren. Family was very special to Dr McGaughey.

Dr and Mrs McGaughey were very happy in Castledawson and Curran.  And testimony of their hard work is still evidence there today through the formation of the Girls’ Brigade and Boys’ Brigade and youth fellowship.

In 1972 Dr McGaughey was approached by a number of congregations, but it was to the congregation of Mourne, early in 1973, that the Lord was to bring him.  Dr McGaughey was installed on the 6 September 1973. 

But many throughout province today will remember Dr McGaughey has the mighty preacher of the gospel that he was. And the Lord used him to save many souls and build up many believers through his preaching. 

Dr McGaughey’s faithfulness and ministry was acknowledged by our denomination when he was elected and installed as Moderator of our General Assembly in1994. He took the opportunities from this high office not to promote himself, or his ability, but to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to a lost world. 

Surely we find a real source of hope and strength in the life that he lived. Dr David McGaughey lived a life of unselfish service to his God, his family, his friends and the Lord’s Church. 

He lived a life in the reality that is found in Second Timothy, chapter 1 and verse 7 “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love”. The Lord granted to Dr McGaughey power in the life he lived. His life was marked with dignity, respect. We can find hope in the life Dr McGaughey lived. 

This brings us to my second point. Dr David McGaughey could find hope in the love he shared.

I found it humbling to see the love that was so evident between Dr and Mrs McGaughey and his family. He had a deep love and care for his family, and freely shared his love with others. 

He longed to see others come to experience the forgiveness and love of the saviour. When he preached he followed the example of the Saviour in Matthew 9 verse 36 “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd”. And none of us will forget the tears that flowed from Dr McGaughey when preaching the gospel.

He loved to see believers develop and grow in their faith. 

I am reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus Christ himself found in Matthew chapter 25 verses 35-40 “I was an hungered and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; naked and you clothed; I was sick and ye visited me: I was in prison and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him saying, Lord when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we a stranger and took thee in? Or naked and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison and came unto thee? And the king shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”. 

For me, these verses could easily be applied to Dr David McGaughey. 

The love for people became very evident to me when he came to the home of a recent bereavement or tragedy. I will never forget him coming into to homes and him throwing his arms around those who were bereaved not saying a word but shedding many tears. As I observed Dr McGaughey provide pastoral care to the grieving I was often reminded of Romans 12 verse. 15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep”.

When Dr McGaughey preached he did so as taught in First Corinthians chapter. 2 verses. 1-5 “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.  For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.  And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.  And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God”.

Thirdly, Dr David McGaughey could find hope in the loyalties he had. 

Dr David McGaughey had strong loyalties to his family, friends and church but he was also loyal to her Lord and saviour. 

When you had a friend in Dr McGaughey, you had a faithful friend who would advise you - not on what you wanted to hear - but what you needed to hear.  He would never be found wanting in his friendship. 

He was extremely loyal to his Lord and Saviour. 

He was a man of prayer and in Tullyallen & Mountnorris we were blessed on Thursday evening at our Midweek to listen to Dr McGaughey’s opening prayer.

When Dr McGaughey stepped out into eternity he was met by the words of the Lord Jesus Christ himself as found in Matthew’s gospel chapter 25 verse 21 “Well done thou good and faithful servant: enter thou into the joy of the Lord”.

First today there is hope in the Lord that Dr MCGaughey trusted. 

A great source of strength for this sad hour is found in the Lord that Dr McGaughey trusted. He trusted in Christ as his personal Saviour, and that makes all the difference in this world and in the world to come.

Like the apostle Paul in his second Epistle to Timothy chapter 1 and verse 12, Dr McGaughey could say with assurance “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day”. I think it is important to point out that the apostle said, “I know in whom I have believed” not I know what I have believed. You see, it is not a system of theology, or a church that saves, it is a person and his name is the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Dr McGaughey trusted the Saviour as a young boy of 10 years of age and on that occasion he accepted Christ’s offer of salvation and Dr McGaughey forever placed his trust in Christ, through the prayer of repentance. In Matthew’s gospel chapter 10 and verse 32 the Lord Jesus Christ said “whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my father which is in heaven”.  Dr McGaughey trusted the Lord for his strength, there is no other explanation for the manner in which he so courageously bore his illness. And in those last days of Dr McGaughey’s earthly life he knew he was on his way to heaven where there will be no sickness and pain. 

I have no doubt that Dr McGaughey has left a powerful and humbling legacy. 

The challenge for us all is to follow his example and to give our lives over in repentance and faith to the Lord Dr McGaughey trusted, to live the life that he lived and share our love and have strong loyalties to our families and especially to our Lord.

We all have been reminded of the suddenness of life, when Dr McGaughey’s illness was to change his life and he has now passed away into eternity and it is my duty to appeal to each one, as Dr McGaughey would have done, to make that preparation for eternity and give our lives over to Christ.

Life can change so quickly and it is important to be ready to meet the saviour knowing that our sins our forgiven.. 

Because Dr McGaughey trusted in Christ for salvation he was able to face death in a way unlike the way of the world. He found hope and strength in the Lord he trusted, in the life he lived, the love he shared and in the loyalties he had. I hope and pray that today each one of us will know the strength that is found in salvation from Christ alone - may we find hope and comfort in him. And it is to Christ we give all the glory the honour and the praise. Amen.

Tribute from Rev William Bingham, minister of Mourne Presbyterian Church

Giving tribute, Rev William Bingham, minister of Mourne Presbyterian Church spoke of Rev. Dr McGaughey's immense contribution to Mourne Presbyterian Church.

In September 1973 Dr and Mrs McGaughey arrived at Mourne Manse, along with their 4 children Lynn, David, Hilary and Jane. For the next thirty years the Manse was to be their home, the congregation of Mourne their extended family and the community of The Kingdom of Mourne their mission field.

"Dr McGaughey wasn’t made in Mourne but by God’s grace he has contributed immensely in making Mourne the church and community that it is today.

"At his service of installation the Choir sang “Consecration” – “Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to thee” – No one could have imagined then just how appropriate those words were -  for his life and ministry in this place was one of deep consecration to the Lord, to the Gospel, to God’s people and to this community. Within the congregation, community and General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland  he has been a “giant” and his legacy for Christ and the Gospel is immense.

"When I met with David a few weeks ago he spoke to me about his funeral service and what he wanted. He asked – Could I have the service in Mourne and be buried in Mourne – I thought – what an honour for Mourne.

"And what an honour for me to be asked by him to preach at his funeral.

I have known Dr McGaughey and served with him for 34 years – not too much about me – preach Christ – and 20 minutes is plenty.

The Man and His Message

Man – Preacher, Pastor, Patriarch


When Dr McGaughey ascended the steps of this pulpit there was what I could only describe as a “Holy Hush” descended on the congregation – even the children were silent….he brought us into the presence of God. There were no gimmicks, no light hearted entertainment, no frivolity – he by God’s spirit was leading us to Christ…..and the Godly hush, the sense of God’s presence with us because of two things

  • Dr McGaughey was preaching Christ
  • Dr McGaughey was walking with Christ.

There was no divergence between what he preached and how he lived his life. He was a man of God – he never got into this pulpit unprepared – examined the scriptures and he examined his life.

Message was biblical, simple and clear – anyone from any background could have understood it – it was the language of the common man but it came from above because it came from the Bible. The authority of the scriptures was a non negotiable for Dr McGaughey – if the scriptures says it that settles it – end of story.

Preaching was passionate and earnest.

“Rescue the perishing, Care for the dying, Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; Weep o’er the erring one, Lift up the fallen, Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save. Rescue the perishing, Care for the dying; Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.” 

He wept with and over the people, he warned them of sin and righteousness and judgement to come, and he wooed them to the crucified but risen Saviour calling upon young and old to repentance and faith in Christ. 

Many souls were saved – many went on to serve Christ in the ministry, on the mission field, to the eldership or positions in church leadership and service.

It was a spiritual battle – it was warfare – and where was the battle won? In the pulpit – YES – but supremely in the place of prayer. Everything he did was saturated in prayer – sometimes on his knees in his study – sometimes in an empty church beside a pew, sometimes in the ministers room before the service started – sometimes even here in the pulpit in front of a full church.

God blessed his preaching here in a way that only eternity will reveal – but it just didn’t happen – it was the fruit of a consecrated life


One of things David felt was being neglected in church life perhaps even in the training of ministers was the whole area of pastoral care – a Shepherd must care for his flock. How does he expect them to listen to him if he doesn’t care for them.

Dr McGaughey was a Shepherd who sincerely and genuinely cared for his people. I know of no other minister in the General Assembly who cared his flock more, just ask the congregation. – and Mourne isn’t a congregation of a few hundred rather a few thousand…it was hard work. I could give you hundreds of examples.

1989 we were having a Mission conducted by Stephen Anderson from Scotland. Dr McGaughey decided that he and I should visit each home in the two weeks leading up to the Mission – roughly 1000 homes in 12 days – 500 each – just over 40 a day – beginning at 8.00am – I had never see so many people in their dressing gowns before.

Illness – if someone was very ill – it wasn’t a visit every other day, not once a day, but twice and even three times a day – middle of the night included. Any day, any time this Shepherd was with his sheep when they needed him most.

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