Bishop David McClay

The Rt Revd David Alexander McClay

Bishop David
Bishop David

“My whole ordained ministry has been in the Diocese of Down and Dromore and it is both humbling and an immense privilege to be your Bishop.

“I am here to be a servant leader. Please pray that I will be a godly leader, a courageous leader and that together we will lead the church into mission, evangelism, pastoral care and growth, to the glory of God.”+David


David was born in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, on 5th June 1959. He is the son of Roland and Kathleen McClay, the eldest of four children, and grew up on the home farm.

From childhood, David was a regular worshipper in the parish church in the village of Ballintra. He attended the local Church of Ireland Robertson National School, then went on to the Royal & Prior in Raphoe, before embracing a career in industry with Magee & Co in Donegal town.

Ordained ministry

It was in his late teens that David came to a personal living faith in Jesus Christ. He was ordained deacon in the Church of Ireland in 1987 and priest/ presbyter in 1988. He served a curacy in Magheralin and in 1990 was appointed rector of Kilkeel. In 2001 he became rector of the inner–city Belfast parish of Willowfield where he remained for 19 years. His passion is to see local churches so proclaim Christ that lives and communities are transformed by the good news of the gospel.

David became a canon of St Anne’s Cathedral in 2004 and Archdeacon of Down in 2013. He was elected Bishop of Down and Dromore in November 2019 and consecrated in St Anne’s Cathedral on 25 January 2020. 

At central church level, Bishop David is chair of both ‘The Commission on Ministry’ and the ‘Pioneer Oversight Committee’.

He is a Director/Trustee of New Wine Ireland, having handed over the leadership in 2021. New Wine Ireland is a movement of churches working together to see mission and growth in churches throughout the island of Ireland.


David married Irene Coulter in 1986 and was widowed in 1993 when his daughter Cherith was four years old. He met and married Hilary Saunders in 1996 and they have three children; Cherith married to Ciaran, Ruth married to Matthew, their son Jordan and three grandchildren – Annie, Maisie and Katie.

David loves to spend time with friends and family. He enjoys cooking, entertaining, walking, gardening, travel, family holidays and the countryside.


My priorities for every church in Down and Dromore include ensuring that the Scriptures are taught and proclaimed in ways that make God’s word relevant to a post–modern world.

I will work tirelessly, both personally and in enabling others, to do the work of evangelism in the power of the Holy Spirit so that the church effectively reaches people beyond our walls to become disciples of Jesus Christ. All of our churches should be genuinely welcoming communities open to all.

In the months and years ahead, we will together develop prayer at parish and diocesan level that is both liturgical and informal.

With God’s help I will care for those entrusted to me as bishop.

I believe that a priority for any leader, especially a bishop, should include one’s own self–development and the development of other leaders and strong leadership teams made up of lay and ordained, young and old, male and female.

A bishop is entrusted with the task of guarding the faith so please pray that I will lead with gentleness, humility, courage and strength.

Psalm 111 verse 10 is inscribed inside my episcopal ring. May these words shape and be our hearts’ desire in the years ahead as together we follow Jesus Christ.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.


In my first Diocesan Synod as bishop I expressed my hopes, dreams and prayers for the diocese. I have distilled this into a 10 year vision with clear goals towards which we can work together.

The main points are summarised on this page of the website.