Ministry Update: Edinburgh Theological Seminary, Bracadale Free Church, and Rural Bi-vocational Ministry…

This is just a brief blog post to give folks a ministry update.

In Nov 2014 I met with the Free Church Board of Ministry and was accepted as a ministry candidate. As an outcome of that interview the BoM requested that I undertake studies at Edinburgh Theological Seminary (ETS) – this specifically meant year 2 and 3 of the Bth.

Having spent the last year exploring the best way to meet this requirement, with the challenges of, severe family sickness,  a mortgage on Skye, one child just settling into school and the second child just starting school this year; the geographical challenge – which posed a challenge both in terms of complete relocation or commuting; and ultimately the financial challenge – it became clear, just a few weeks ago, that the logistics of attending ETS as a full-time student, at this stage, would not be possible.

It was with a degree of sadness that I had to notify the BoM that I would not be able to progress with the required course of study. In many ways I was looking forward to studying theology in an institution that has such a rich heritage and a present day commitment to both the reformed faith and contemporary mission. Since I am unable to attend ETS at this time, the application is now closed, and the BoM have welcomed a fresh application if the circumstances change in the future.

On the other hand, whilst it was with sadness that I had to withdraw from the scheduled entry to ETS, there was also a degree of relief. After applying to the Free Church to be considered a ministry candidate, in the summer of 2014, an opportunity to serve the church part-time in Bracadale and Portree arose. And, for the last nine months, instead of covering various pulpits in various denominations, I have been serving Bracadale and Portree free church.

This post is part of a new partnership between Portree and Bracadale. Bracadale includes two small congregations who are unable to financially support a full-time minister. They are however, with the help of Portree, able to support a part-time ministry.

There are many churches like Bracadale all over Scotland, especially in the rural areas. And whilst I sense a call to gospel ministry, there was always a part of me that struggled with the idea of stopping the local ministry (that can only be sustained bi-vocationally) in order to go and become licenced for the national church. (This is why I say there is also a degree of relief.) So, it seems at this point that the Lord is making it clear, providentially, that local ministry in the highlands is what he would have me doing at this point. Although, I trust that the path to ordination may open in the future.

As it stands just now, I’m contracted to help Bracadale until Oct 2015. The churches and presbytery will decide whether or not to continue the partnership and post beyond Oct 2015. Consequently, come Oct 2015  — God willing – I imagine  I will either be continuing to support Bracadale bi-vocationally, or if that does not extend beyond Oct, I’ll continue to support various vacant churches with pulpit supply.

My family and I appreciate your prayers for us and the churches on Skye. May the Lord be pleased to pour out His blessing in great measure, for His glory.

 

Yours in Christ,

 

John