Scotland

Kirk welcomes largest number of trainee ministers in five years

Louise Purden Image copyright Andrew O'Brien
Image caption Louise Purden has been accepted as a trainee minister

The Church of Scotland is welcoming its largest number of trainee ministers in five years, with 27 new candidates accepted for training so far this year.

With further applicants due for assessment next month, it could be the largest intake for 10 years.

The Kirk expects hundreds of ministers to retire in the next 10 years.

"We're no different to other professions facing up to retirement challenges, like GPs and teachers" said Rev Neil Glover.

Rev Glover, the convener of the Church's Ministries Council, said that although the Church had been "slow to get to grips with the scale of the problem", it was now a "top priority".

Like father, like daughter

"We currently have just over 800 ministers, and more than 400 of them are aged 55 or over," he said.

"Ministers tend to work a bit beyond the normal pension age, but we now need to recruit 30 new trainees every year.

"With around 10 ministers usually returning to parish ministry or joining us each year we will be able to continue serving our parishes."

Louise Purden and her father Rev John McPake are at the opposite ends of ministry.

Image copyright Andrew O'Brien
Image caption Louise Purden will follow in the footsteps of her father, Rev John McPake

Louise, 39, has just been accepted as a trainee while her 67-year-old father has come out of retirement to work part-time as an associate minister at Edinburgh's Gorgie Dalry Parish Church.

Ms Purden said she had never come under any pressure from her father to follow in his footsteps but she recently started feeling "butterflies in her tummy" the more she thought about becoming a minister.

"I have worked for the Church for many years doing various things - youth and children's work - and people have often said to me in the past "have you ever thought about being a minister?", to which I very quickly replied "no, it is not for me".

Her father entered the ministry at Edinburgh's Liberton Northfield in his mid-40s , and said he is "very encouraged and pleased" with his daughter's decision.

"In a way I am not surprised but I never asked her if she was interested in becoming a minister - I just felt that if it was right, God would lead her forward in that direction."

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