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Rev Professor Laurence S Kirkpatrick


Professor of Church History

Rev Professor Laurence S Kirkpatrick



Laurence Kirkpatrick studied Ancient History, Semitic Studies and Theology at Queen’s University (QUB) and Early Church History at the University of Glasgow. He was minister of Muckamore Presbyterian Church for twelve years before his appointment as Professor of Church History in Union Theological College (UTC) in 1996. He has wide administrative experience of academic advisement and course development, serving as UTC Secretary of Faculty (1998–2007) and QUB Advisor of Studies in Theology (2000–07). He was Chair of the Systematic Theology, Practical Theology, and Church History Subject Board of the Queen’s University Institute of Theology (2007–17).

He has delivered numerous public lectures, most recently the Robert Allen Lecture on Theological Education, the Carey Lectures on Irish Presbyterian Mission to Manchuria and several community events marking the 400th Anniversary of the publication of the Authorised King James Bible. He co–organised the Calvin Anniversary Conference in Union College in September 2009. He delivered the Comber Titanic Centenary Lecture in April 2012 and also presented a paper in Belfast City Hall at the 1912 Ulster Covenant and Citizenship Conference in April 2012. He presented a paper at The Open University Religious Difference and Conflict Conference in Belfast in September 2012 on the Irish Mission of the Presbyterian Church. Since 2000 he has organised and lectured at the Institute of Theology Annual RE Sixth Form Forum which is attended by over 500 sixth formers.

In 2013 he was historical consultant on the acclaimed ‘An Independent People’ BBC TV trilogy on Irish Presbyterianism. In June 2013 he was the speaker at the unveiling of an Ulster Circle blue plaque to Francis Makemie in Ramelton, Donegal – see He was a keynote speaker at the International World War I Conference in University College Vives in Kortrijk, Belgium in November 2013 and delivered public lectures in October and November 2013 on the impact of the 19th century Presbyterian Mission in Connaught. In September 2014 he presented a paper on The Voyage of the Eaglewing: People, Places and Problems – Early Presbyterian migration to Massachusetts at the ‘Presbyterians in the trans–Atlantic world, 1550–1700’ Conference in Queen’s University, Belfast.

In January 2015 he presented a paper on Irish Presbyterians and Politics at a Conference in the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy in Queen’s University, Belfast. In the same month he was guest speaker at the Irish Inter–Colleges Conference for theological students in Dublin on the topic of Who owns Luther? He organised the Luther 500 Conference in Queen’s University, Belfast in February 2017, marking the 500th anniversary of the European Reformation. He edited the conference papers which were published in 2017.

Rev Professor Kirkpatricks video commentary of his modules

Research Interests

His research covers several areas of Church History, ranging from the Patristic Era to the present century. He has conducted field research in China (2007) and India (2009) related to Irish Presbyterian Mission in Manchuria and Gujarat. He conducts regular field research on the First World War battlefields and organises tours of the battlefields. He is a frequent speaker with the local council and cross–community events with historical content. He has explored 19th century Presbyterian activity in Connaught and is currently researching Irish Church influence upon education.

Current writing projects

‘The Irish Mayflower: people, places and problems’ in Presbyterians in the trans–Atlantic World, 1550–1700, (article) 

‘The contribution of the main churches in Irish Education’, (article)

History of the Qua Iboe Mission (Mission Africa) 1950–2010 (book)

‘Irish Presbyterians in Gujarat’, (book)

Select Publications

Martin Luther 500: papers marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, (Contributor and Editor), Belfast 2017

‘Irish Presbyterians and Marriage’ in Marriage and the Irish: a Miscellany, Wordwell Books 2017

‘William Dool Killen: a Presbyterian perspective on Irish ecclesiastical history’ in Representing Irish Religious Histories: Historiography, Ideology and Practice, Palgrave 2017

‘Irish Presbyterians and Death’ in Death and the Irish: a Miscellany, Wordwell Books 2016

Review of Preaching in Belfast, 1747–7 by Raymond Gillespie & Roibeard Ó Gallachóir in Irish Theological Quarterly 2016

‘Mission Statement of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland 1992’ in Reformiertes Bekennen Heute ed. Marco Hofheinz 2015

‘Peace Vocation of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland 1992’ in Reformiertes Bekennen Heute ed. Marco Hofheinz 2015

‘Francis Mackemie: father of American Presbyterianism’ in Treasures of Irish Christianity Volume III: To the Ends of the Earthy, Veritas 2015

James Glasgow: pioneer missionary in Treasures of Irish Christianity Volume III: To the Ends of the Earth, Veritas 2015

‘Poor Dark Connaught – an Irish Presbyterian case study Bulletin of the Presbyterian Historical Society Volume 39 2015

‘Irish Presbyterians and the Ulster Covenant’ in The Home Rule Crisis 1912–14, Mercier Press, Cork 2014

‘The Irish Progressive Presbyterian Tradition’ in Dissenting Voices, Ulster Historical Foundation, Belfast 2013

John Calvin: Reflections on a Reformer (Contributor and Co–editor) Union Publications Belfast 2009

Made in China – but not as you know it: Irish Presbyterian links with the Chinese Church Manleys Ltd., Ireland 2008

The Ideal and Implementation of Theological Education Bulletin of the Presbyterian Historical Society 2007 Presbyterians in Ireland Booklink, Belfast 2006

Fasti of Seceder Ministers Ordained or Installed in Ireland 1746–1948, Presbyterian Historical Society 2005

‘The remains of James Seaton Reid’ in Ebb and Flow : festschrift for Finlay Holmes Presbyterian Historical Society 2002


The Blame Game BBC Radio 2017 (contributor)

Sunday Sequence BBC Radio 2015 (contributor)

The Blame Game BBC Radio 2015 (contributor)

Then Sings My Soul BBC television series on worship patterns 2015 (contributor)

A Kist o Wurds: Ulster–Scots radio programme on Presbyterian worship 2014 (contributor)

Isabel Tod: Forgotten Belfast Feminist: television documentary on Isabel Tod 2013 (contributor)

A Kist o Wurds: Ulster–Scots radio programme on Francis Makemie 2013 (contributor)

An Independent People: television series on Irish Presbyterians 2013 (historical consultant and contributor)

The Ingenious Mr Hutcheson: television documentary on Francis Hutcheson 2012 (contributor)

Plandáil: television series on the Ulster Plantation 2011 (contributor)

Various TV and Radio interviews/discussions


Professor Laurence Kirkpatrick teaches on the following Queens’ University programmes/modules:

THE1031 Early Church History

THE2090 Boyne Valley Fieldtrip and Project

THE2097 Christianity in Ireland since the Reformation

THE3091 Christianity in the 16th Century

THE3031 Patristic Literature

THE3071 Single Dissertation

THE3073 Double Dissertation

THE3074 Belgium Fieldtrip to World War 1 battlefields

THE7030 Church History: Texts

THE7031 Church History: Events

THE7032 Church History: People

THE7033 Church History: Controversies

THE7034 Church History: Themes

THE7090 Dissertation

Undergraduate Research Projects:

Student group, ‘Augustine’s theory of the Just war in relation to World war I’ 

Student group, ‘An examination of the message of the war poets’ 

Student group, ‘Irish connections to World War I and remembrance of it’  

Student group, ‘An assessment of the churches response to the First World War’

Undergraduate single dissertations:


Runaghan, ‘The Penal Laws’


Moorcroft, ‘The role of Henry VIII in the English Reformation’


 Lowe, ‘The Life and Writings of John Livingston’

Johnston, ‘John Chrysostom: preacher, patriarch and politician’

Carr, ‘How did the discovery of the New World affect Christianity’?


Monan, ‘The Life and Writings of Ignatius of Antioch’

Wilson, ‘Aspects of Irish Identity and the Commemoration of World War One’


Donnelly, ‘Irish Churches and the Great Famine’

Kelly, ‘1916 for Irish Catholics and Protestants’

Undergraduate double dissertations:


Brown, ‘Early Church Persecution: reasons, actions, responses

Gibson, ‘Aspects of the life of the Emperor Constantine relating to the Early Church Study of Church’

Irvine, ‘An investigation into the authenticity of Constantine’s conversion to Christianity’

McSorley, ‘The role and impact of the Church in Northern Ireland throughout the period known as ‘The Troubles’.’

Norwood, ‘Examine aspects of the Reformation in Ireland which made it so unsuccessful’


Downey, ‘A Study of Church Discipline in Calvin’s Geneva’

Irvine, ‘The Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the gender issue’

McCormick, ‘The role and influence of Irish Presbyterians in the growth and spread of the Christian Church in Manchuria’

Wright,: ‘Miracles in the English Reformation’


Johnston, ‘An examination of the expansion of the Early Church’

Martin, ‘Aspects of Irish Presbyterianism in Belfast in 20th century’

Lee, ‘An examination of Catholic acquisition, maintenance and eventual loss of political, moral and religious control in Ireland’

Pritchard: ‘A History of Christian Socialism’ 


Ferris, ‘Connections between the Orange Order and the Presbyterian Church’

Goddard, ‘Tertullian and the Early Church’

Grant–Jones, ‘The Early Church and the Polytheistic World’

Hobson, ‘Constantine: The Christian Opportunist’

Kennedy, ‘Aspects of the Seventeenth–century Ulster Plantation’


Barrett–White, ‘Did Patrick bring Christianity to Ireland?’

Brogan, ‘Irish Catholic–Protestant Conflicts in the 20th Century’

McNabb, ‘Did the Montanists get a fair deal?’

Topley, ‘James Ussher: the Man and his Legacy’

Welsh, ‘An examination of the last journey of Ignatius’

Masters dissertations:


Elliott, ‘A study of causes, events and legacies of the Crusades’


Anderson, ‘An examination of the principle causes and effects of the 1641 Irish uprising’


Barrett–White, ‘A study of events in Ireland in 1916, and an exploration of their commemorations in 2016’

Hobson, ‘The origins of conflict, the politics of divided memory and the reconciliation of opinion in Ireland from the 12th century until present day’


Boal, ‘An examination of Christian practices of social welfare and charity throughout Europe, during the Reformation Era.’

Kewley, ‘Aspects of Early Church persecution and contemporary experience’

McNabb, ‘The history, definition and importance of ‘revival’ in the Christian tradition, with particular reference to the Ulster Revival of 1859’

Clinton, ‘The influence of alchemy, theosophy and cabala on Pietism in the 16th and 17th centuries

Ballard, ‘A Fourth Dimension? Maintaining and retaining a core identity in a liberal and non–creedal denomination, with specific reference to the Non–subscribing Presbyterianism Church of Ireland’  

Kee, ‘Aspects of the 19th century subscription controversy with particular reference to the Orthodox Presbyterian periodical volumes 1–3’

McClure, ‘The influence of Princeton (USA) on theological education in Ireland’


Best, ‘Origen: Saint or Sinner?’

Current PhD supervision: 

Ballard, The establishment and early history of Irish Non–subscription’

Sullivan, ‘The catacombs of St. Callistus: what they reveal about early Christian beliefs on life, death and the afterlife’

McGurk, ‘An examination of the sermons and actions of French Protestant pastors in the rescue of refugees by Protestants in France during World War II’

Wilson, ‘Irish Presbyterianism and the Ulster Unionist Party’

McAleese, ‘Aspects of Early Christian Baptism’

Recent Successful PhD completion:


Houston, ‘Ancient Israelites in Barbarian Kingdoms – the influence of the Old Testament in the Early Middle Ages’

Muchina, ‘Globalisation and its effects in developing countries: the voice of the church with special reference to Kenya’


Graham, ‘Methods of Mission in the Early Church’ • Ekanem, ‘A Critical Evaluation of the Effects of War and Changes in Governance in Nigeria on Qua Iboe Mission (Mission Africa) and its work in Nigeria (1939– 1987)’

Wallace, ‘Augustine’s theories on human sexuality: context and legacy’