- As recently as June 2023, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland voted to approve that Bill Shaw is retained as a minister of the denomination.
- He’s a ‘minister without charge’, so isn’t working in a congregation or other denominational role.
- However, it’s accurate to say that he’s not currently employed by the denomination.
On Monday 30 October 2023, a social media account called Unionist Truth Forum suggested that Rev Bill Shaw is not a Presbyterian minister.
The reply was in response to discussion around a newspaper article about a recent rally in Belfast which described Rev Bill Shaw, one of the platform speakers, as a Presbyterian Minister.
The Unionist Truth Forum Twitter account (which has since been deleted) posted:
“Bill Shaw is not a Presbyterian Minister. He is not a Minister in any Presbyterian Church and is not employed by the Presbyterian Church.”
Bill Shaw is not currently a minister of any congregation of the Presbyterian Church.
He’s not employed by the denomination.
However, he is recognised by the denomination as a Presbyterian minister.
The headline claim is inaccurate while the two subclaims are accurate with consideration and accurate.
- Is Bill Shaw a Presbyterian Minister?
Not every Presbyterian Minister works in a congregation. Not every Presbyterian Minister is paid by the denomination. Some are recognised as ‘ministers without charge’ who must report regularly to their local Presbytery (regional meetings of ministers and elders) and are able to conduct worship, administer the sacraments, conduct marriages, and seek a call to a congregation or other form of denominational ministry.
The annual report of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (which met in June this year) lists the ministers without charge and licentiates (students who have completed their training but have not been called to a congregation) under the report from its Advisory Committee. An annual resolution is put to the members of the General Assembly to approve the ministers.
Page 195 of the 2023 annual report
specifies “Rev W.A. Shaw to be retained as a minister without charge”.
The resolution to approve the list was agreed by the members.
- Is Bill Shaw a minister in any Presbyterian Church?
Taking ‘Church’ in this instance to mean ‘congregation’, the answer is no. He is not the parish minister of any church congregation. He is ‘under the care’ of the North Belfast Presbytery.
The subclaim that is not a minister “of any Presbyterian [congregation]” is accurate. But it’s not the whole story.
He is still approved as a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland denomination even though he is not ministering in any specific Presbyterian congregation.
Based on this, we would rate the claim that he is not a minister in “any Presbyterian Church” as accurate with consideration.
- Is Bill Shaw employed by the Presbyterian Church?
No, not currently – that part of the claim is accurate.
During his time in parish ministry, Bill Shaw worked in a congregation on the Shankill Road, Belfast and in congregations in Portadown.
He then moved to work for The 174 Trust, a north Belfast charity which (according to the latest report lodged with The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland) is “an interdenominational Christian Community Development organisation” focused on North Belfast which provides “an inclusive, non-threatening and shared space environment for individuals and groups to access programmes and to be involved in a wide range of activities covering every age group from parent & toddlers to Senior Citizens”.
According to this latest trustee report, Bill Shaw is CEO of The 174 Trust.