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Hi I'm Tom McElhinney

From Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland I am a stroke survivor and a Mormon.

About Me

Originally from Donegal, I lived most of my early life in Derry where I met and married my teenage sweetheart. We have 2 daughters, 1 in Canada and a son at home with Autism. I spent 30 years as senior manager in financial services in Belfast and Edinburgh as a qualified Chartered Insurer and as an examiner for the Chartered Insurance Institute ( CII ) for over 25 years. I have an MBA, an honours degree in Economics and a Diploma in Financial Planning. I am a Member of the Society of Fellows of the CII and the Institute of Fundraising. In 2004 I was awarded a Fellowship by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to conduct research in USA and Europe into potential post statutory education opportunities for those with autism and in 2015 was invited to Buckingham Palace to participate in the Trust's 50 anniversary celebrations. In 2006, I suffered a right hemisphere stroke in Miami while on holiday with my family which left me with temporary left side paralysis accompanied by impaired speech and sight. Thankfully I made a remarkable, even miraculous recovery and paradoxically now work as Area Manager for a health charity specializing in post statutory cardiac, respiratory, stroke education and rehabilitation. I am a founder member of the Foyle Family History Society and currently serve as Bishop of the Foyle Ward of the Church in Derry-Londonderry.

Why I am a Mormon

I joined the Church with my wife, typically cynical, skeptical and wary of what I then perceived to be an American Church. I was Church of Ireland, sung in the choir, taught Sunday School and a Scout Leader. I played rugby, had a great social life and no desire to change. Laid up recovering from a serious rugby knee injury I came into contact with the Church through my younger brother. I started to read the Book of Mormon as a "blood sport" to find faults with which to challenge the young missionaries who so brashly bore testimony of its divinity and who responded with dignity to an ever growing list of my questions challenging both their faith, scriptural and doctrinal knowledge, After several weeks I decided to apply myself to real prayer to find out if the Book of Mormon was true. I had no idea how this would work or what if anything would happen but if God was real, then anything was possible. Unknown to me my wife ( much more religious than me ) also prayed for me to find out the whole thing was a fraud and to throw the missionaries out of the house. However, some several weeks later, I was impressed to accept the offer of baptism, but without the real converting power, knowledge and strength that was promised and that I knew I needed. Nevertheless, with the loving support of my wife, I proceeded with faith into the waters of baptism and in preparation for the "laying on of hands" begged God for a manifestation of the Holy Ghost " Please God, if there is such a thing as the Holy Ghost, I need to know about it and I need to know about it NOW !!" A few minutes later both myself and my wife ( hitherto absolutely opposed to the whole thing ) were each individually and separately treated to a personal witness of the power of the Holy Spirit testifying of Jesus Christ and the divinity of the Book of Mormon with such power and strength, that we could not deny what had happened. Six days later, she was baptized and our lives have been richly blessed ever since.

How I live my faith

Having had to move home for work, I have been a member of the Church in Omagh, Foyle, Newtownabbey areas in Northern Ireland and in Dalkieth near Edinburgh in Scotland. I have had the great privilege to be asked to serve 2 terms each as leader ( Bishop ) of local congregations in Newtownabbey and Foyle areas and to participate in the ruling local ( High ) councils in both Belfast and Edinburgh. In recent years I have enjoyed working with schools, church groups and others to develop areas of common interest and understanding for the benefit of the community as a whole. It has been particularly pleasing that our cross community efforts have resulted in over 3,500 visitors annually, many of whom have come to research their genealogy in our Family History Centre.

Why don’t Mormons have paid clergy?

Tom McElhinney
I currently serve as Bishop of Derry/ Londonderry Ward. I serve as a willing volunteer at the prayerful invitation of Church leaders for around 5 years and carry out my pastoral ministry in addition to my full time management day job. With no paid ministry, I am assisted by 2 advisers (counsellors) and a Ward Council made up of men and women who are likewise prayerfully invited to serve in unpaid leadership positions for around 2-3 years. Typically I devote around 3 nights each week to the ministry in addition to my Sunday commitments, visiting members, giving prayerful counsel and advice, presiding at meetings, organising services and administering the day to day affairs of the Church. My calling is to help member and non member alike to "Come unto Christ", and to look after their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Unlike other clergy, I have had no specific training for this other than my individual "Road to Damascus" conversion, my personal witness of Jesus Christ and my subsequent personal faith promoting experiences through which I have been humbled to feel the power of the "still small voice" of the Holy Ghost manifest in my life. Show more Show less