New minister for rebooted Edinburgh church

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The Rev Irvin, his wife Lynne and their two young sons.

A congregation that has re-vitalised itself after members left over the ordination of same-sex clergy has appointed a new minister who has vowed to help it continue to grow and flourish.

The Rev Stuart Irvin was inducted into the role at St Catherine's Argyle Church in Edinburgh last night in front of 224 people including family and friends.

The 31-year-old said he was delighted to be joining an inspirational and energetic group of people who are deeply committed to their faith.

Mr Irvin, who is married to Lynne with whom he has two young children, was previously associate minister at St Andrew's Parish Church in Arbroath – a position he held for three years.

He is a graduate of divinity from the University of Aberdeen.

Exciting and encouraging

Asked why he was attracted to St Catherine's Argyle, which lost over 200 members in 2014, Mr Irvin said: "I got a real sense of God's presence and peace when I preached there as sole nominee.

"I was encouraged by how welcoming the congregation were to me and my family.

"I was excited to see what they are doing and really encouraged by what they are about.

"The commitment they have is really clear."

Mr Irvin, who grew up in Edinburgh and attended St Columba's Church in Blackhall which also has a new minister, army chaplain the Rev Benjamin Abeledo, said he was "excited to be getting on with the task of ministering".

The former groundsman, who enrolled at the University of Aberdeen at the age of 22, said he was delighted that so many people attended his induction service including the Rev Martin Fair of St Andrew's Parish Church and key figures from his life such as the leader of a Scripture Union camp where he became a Christian.

Mr Irvin, a keen climber and hill walker, said: "It was a very uplifting service and I felt very well supported by the congregation and all those who journeyed with me through my ministry formation."

Commitment and enthusiasm

Angus Grant, session clerk at St Catherine's Argyle which is in the Grange area of Edinburgh, said he was delighted to welcome Mr Irvin.

He said there were 110 members of the church roll and around 50 people attended each Sunday.

Mr Grant said: "The people who are here are really committed - everyone takes part and works together.

"We may be a relatively small church in numbers but what we lack in size we more than make up for in commitment and enthusiasm.

"This is an exciting time for us and we are looking forward to watching the church build and grow."

With the number of new recruits accepted for Church of Scotland ministry training at a nine-year high, other churches are also welcoming new ministers.

A total of seven Church of Scotland ministers have been newly ordained and inducted so far this year across including the Rev Dan Robertson at Davidson's Mains Parish Church in Edinburgh.

A total of 31 people were welcomed by the Kirk in 2015, the largest intake since 2007.

The Rev Neil Glover, Convener of the Church of Scotland's Ministries Council, said he was "thrilled" by the level of interest in becoming a leader of the next generation of churches.

The Kirk launched its'Tomorrow's Calling'minister recruitment campaign at last May's General Assembly.